For Gandhi’s 150th Birthday: Learning from Gandhi and MLK

The latest installment of Other Voices TV was taped just last night, making it just in time for the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth today (10/2/1869). The basic thrust of the program was to discuss the upcoming conference at Stanford University called The Gandhi-King Global Initiative, an effort to forge an international network of organizations and activists dedicated to nonviolent struggle for human rights. And we did talk about the conference, but we also reviewed the personal journeys of Gandhi and King as they developed their own ideas about nonviolent resistance. My guest was Clay Carson, the founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford.

I thought one observation that Clay made was quite interesting: that Gandhi and King made their significant impacts on their respective societies in remarkably different time scales. Gandhi came to activism relatively late in life, met with limited success early on, but kept at it over a long period of time. King, alternatively, started young and had a very short period of activism (12 years) before he was assassinated. Moral of the story: there is no how-to guide for activism.

I interviewed Clay once before, back in 2014 for a program marking the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer (1964). It remains one of my favorite OV programs. You can see it here. The Freedom Summer episode was taped before the studio went all HD and it’s a bit jarring to see it today in comparison with our current video quality. But still well worth your time (as is the current episode, of course).

 

Story time

The history of grassroots activism abounds with classic stories of struggle against all odds, and tales worthy of telling around a campfire. History is the important element.

My own campfire tales were told around a flickering TV monitor last night. Owing to my impending retirement, I felt free to invite myself to be the guest on the monthly TV program that I produce and host.

Elliot Margolies’ interview was a marvel.

My goal for this blog is to tell more of these stories. Old and new.