Monday, March 16, 2009

Martin Luther King III visits Mani Bhavan

King III feels 'the spirit of the Mahatma'
20 Feb 2009, 0223 hrs IST, Mohammed Wajihuddin, TNN
Times of India
MUMBAI: Fifty years after American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr and his wife Coretta Scott visited Gandhi museum - Mani Bhavan on
leafy Laburnum Road, Martin Luther King III retraced his parents' steps on Thursday. Accompanied by wife Andrea and prominent American civil rights leaders, King III spent about two hours at the historic wooden building, chatting with staff and the media. He came out "feeling the spirit of the Mahatma''. After Mani Bhavan's president Shanti Patel received the delegation with the traditional garland of yarn spun on a charkha, King III was taken to the room where his parents had stayed for two days in 1959. "My father said people visited India as tourists but he came to India as a pilgrim. Today my wife and I are honoured to be here,'' he said. "Gandhi told us how to love and how to forgive. The tragedy of 26/11 showed we have not learnt enough from his message.'' He heads Realising the Dream, an NGO. In order to continue with the unfinished work of his parents, King III works for civil rights even today. "I remember passing by an amusement park called Fun Town as a child and I would ask my father why I couldn't enter. "We are working on that,'' he would say,'' recalls King III, the second child of his parents. Also present was Congressman John Lewis who was racially discriminated against and was once beaten up by a white American. He said both Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr helped change the history of the US. "Had it not been for Gandhi and King Jr, America would not have an African-American as its president. Remember, 40 years ago, blacks were not even allowed to register and vote,'' said Lewis, whom speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi once called "the conscience of the US Congress''. Usha Thakkar, Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya's honorary secretary, gifted copies of Gandhi's autobiography and Gandhian Usha Mehta's book `The Multi-Dimensional Thought of Mahatma Gandhi' to King III as well as other guests as mementos.