Connecting MLK to Gandhi

The Washington Post has a great feature called “Day in Photos.”  It’s a collection of compelling pictures from around the world.  Here’s a link to the photos from Jan 31, 2013 (sorry, you have to watch a short ad before you get to the photos).

One picture yesterday was of a group of Indian schoolchildren in Chennai, India — all dressed as Mahatma Gandhi, to celebrate the date of Gandhi’s assassination on Jan 30, 1948.  In India, that date is known as “Martyr’s Day”.

Here’s a link to the picture that caught my eye yesterday from Chennai

And here’s a follow-up picture from New Delhi, showing flower petals decorating the last steps Gandhi ever took.

(I know that as diligent students, you are already looking up Chennai on Google Earth and making place marks there, and in the location of Gandhi’s last steps)

These are quite powerful pictures, but sadly I’m not including those pictures here, because I don’t have the rights to do so, and I am trying to model good digital citizenship.  But the pictures are good enough to endure viewing an online ad.  Go ahead and click on them.

Inspired by the second picture, I looked up the location of Gandhi’s assassination, and I found this picture on Wikipedia that has a Creative Commons license, so I can share that one:

This photo, “Gandhi Smriti (then Birla House) where Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in Delhi” is copyright (c) 2009 by Wilson Loo and is made available via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons license.

In another blog post, I’ll explore in more depth the idea of sharing poignant online images that students (and teachers) find online — but for now let’s focus on Gandhi.

Here’s a result from a Google Image search of Gandhi:


I think I can zoom in on a few pictures without violating copyright law, because these are just thumbnails — if you want the full high-res picture, you have to contact the rights holder…


Anyway, Gandhi is clearly a big deal in India — especially on Jan 30, the anniversary of his assassination.

As a middle school student in the US who may not yet have learned about Gandhi in a serious way, this would be a great opportunity to learn about Gandhi.  This blog is an attempt to pique student interest.  Prospective TLC students should email me questions you have about Gandhi or post questions below this blog entry.

The basic outline of Gandhi’s life is easy to find online — here’s a good short piece from the BBC.  Feel free to look for more information online.

Let’s analyze that first paragraph:

Known as ‘Mahatma’ (great soul), Gandhi was the leader of the Indian nationalist movement against British rule, and is widely considered the father of his country. His doctrine of non-violent protest to achieve political and social progress has been hugely influential.

Okay, so we looked a little at Dr. King’s non-violent protests against segregation in the US.  But what is an “Indian nationalist movement against British rule”?

Well, the British were ruling India for hundreds of years, and the Indian people wanted to kick Great Britain out and start their own nation.  That movement — seeking to start your own nation — is known as nationalism.

Here’s a short video that brings this whole blog post to life a bit:

(note that the map of the British Empire is available via Wikimedia under a Creative Commons license)

Dr. King (who we learned a bit about on our day of service for MLK Day) was inspired by Gandhi’s work.  Dr. King and his wife actually visited India for five weeks in February of 1959.  According to a page from a website about Dr. King at Stanford, “King told a group of reporters gathered at the airport, ‘To other countries I may go as a tourist, but to India I come as a pilgrim.’ ”

Dr. King had a picture of Gandhi in his office, and took inspiration from Gandhi’s work in India.

So we should learn more about Gandhi.  But let’s do so in a way that responds to student interest — so start by reading this basic outline of Gandhi’s life from the BBC and post your questions below (if the comments is hard to work with, just email me your questions).  I’ll do a follow-up blog soon, based on the questions you ask.

About Steve Goldberg

I teach students at Research Triangle High School (RTHS) about US History. RTHS is a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning. The blog posts here reflect my own personal views and not those of my employer.
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One Response to Connecting MLK to Gandhi

  1. Tina Bessias says:

    Hi Steve. It’s great to see this post. I visited that Ghandi memorial last summer when I was in India. It’s a beautiful, quiet island in a hectic city. One of the things I learned from a speaker in Bangalore is that Gandhi’s incredible influence on the independence process did not extend to the drafting of the Indian constitution. There are images of Gandhi all over India, especially on the money (such irony!), but one is hard pressed to find his philosophy in operation.

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