William Stuart Nelson, Mohandas K. Gandhi: The Nonviolent Answer

Article by African-American theologian William Stuart Nelson on Gandhiji in the Friends Journal: Quaker Thought and Life, October 1, 1969. Nelson was a satyagrahi who marched with Gandhi in Noakhali, Bengal in support of Hindu-Muslim Unity against Western imperialism. He was a very important mentor to Martin Luther King Jr. and played a decisive role in facilitating Dr. King’s visit to India in 1959. Continue reading William Stuart Nelson, Mohandas K. Gandhi: The Nonviolent Answer

The Heroism of Satyagraha

Our heroes must be spiritual. –Swami Vivekananda What does the method and philosophy of Satyagraha reveal? It exposes the heart of human nature, in all of its contradictions. The law of satyagraha compels us to act with soul force, which necessitates activation of our soul memory, our spirit consciousness. If it follows that we were still born though we do not remember our babyhood, then it is also true that our soul-force stores memories from many lifetimes through which we have traveled. Just because we do not remember our babyhood, for example, does not mean we did not exist. This … Continue reading The Heroism of Satyagraha

On the Philosophy and Methods of Non-Violence: Martin Luther King Jr. to William Nelson

NOTE In the following letter, Dr. King writes to Dr. William Nelson, dean of Howard University, a historically black university in Washington D.C., in order to ask whether he knew of any books or pamphlets on the caste system in India. Here, King comments upon the significance of his trip to India, which he deems “full of meaningful insights,” decisively re-anchoring his commitment to non-violence. He expresses his desire to dialogue on these matters to Nelson. The letter is yet another testimony to the unity of India and African-America in the great freedom struggle of the twentieth century, when the … Continue reading On the Philosophy and Methods of Non-Violence: Martin Luther King Jr. to William Nelson

The Moral Government of the World: On Faith, Reason, and Truth

I. THE SOUL-FORCE IN HISTORY In his spiritual message to the world, notable because it is one of the rare extant speeches Mohandas K. Gandhi gave in English, the satygrahi remarked that There is an indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything, I feel it though I do not see it. It is this unseen power which makes itself felt and yet defies all proof, because it is so unlike all that I perceive through my senses. It transcends the senses. God is indescribable and ominpresent for Gandhi, capable of being sensed without manifesting physically. Love is perhaps the most important … Continue reading The Moral Government of the World: On Faith, Reason, and Truth

The Indian Press Defended Paul Robeson in 1947

As revolutionary India entered the world stage as a free nation in 1947, The Hindu, a widely read Indian newspaper, condemned the banning of Paul Robeson’s public performance in Peoria, Illinois as a consequence for his agitation for world peace and the freedom of oppressed peoples everywhere. “If Paul Robeson is un-American, so much the worse for America,” declared the writer of the piece. The article was republished on the first page of The Baltimore Afro-American on May 24, 1947 In 1956, Robeson would be viciously targeted for his support of the erstwhile Soviet Union and his lifelong admiration for … Continue reading The Indian Press Defended Paul Robeson in 1947

The Garland March: From Selma to Montgomery, 1965

The flash and flutter of a lens can capture a moment in eternity. In the photograph below, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., second from left, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, second from right, wear garlands in the Hindu tradition. It is 1965 and they are marching from Selma to Montgomery. I am unsure which of three marches this photo is taken from. Protestors marched 87 kilometers to the state capital, where King delivered his speech “Our God is Matching On.” In the sermon, he reaffirms the people’s faith in God as love, truth, and peace, compelling them to test their … Continue reading The Garland March: From Selma to Montgomery, 1965