Mahatma Gandhi dedicated his life to fight British oppression over India through nonviolent protests in the first half of the twentieth century. Gandhi was deeply influenced by Henry Thoreau’s philosophies in his essay “Civil Disobedience”. Thoreau believed that if there exists a law that is unjust and evil, it is okay as well as necessary to disobey that very law. As a young man, Gandhi went to London where he attended law school. It was in London where he discovered the Sermon on the Mount. These Christian teachings profoundly shaped the strategy in which he would later execute his fight against the British. The Sermon on the Mount upheld the idea that if your enemy strikes you on your left cheek, offer that same enemy your right. It was here that Gandhi was convinced that the path of nonviolence was the way he would pursue his crusade. Gandhi would meet his untimely death when he was assassinated on January 30, 1948. Gandhi’s efforts profoundly changed India’s history. Gandhi’s work has since been renowned throughout the world, and was the basis for many future leaders in their crusade to uplift their people from those who oppressed them.
One of the many followers of Gandhi’s nonviolent philosophies was Martin Luther King, Jr. Reminiscent of Gandhi’s nonviolent efforts, King sought to fight racial segregation in the South through peaceful marches, boycotts, strikes, and protests. King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This was King’s firm belief that the way to put an end to hate and violence of racial segregation for good is to counter act it with love and peace. King would go on to seek equality for all African-American and put racial segregation to end, once and for all. King was an educated minister graduating with his Ph.D from Boston University. He was also an extraordinary orator. King ultimately became the vehicle that drove African-Americans to victory during the American Civil Rights Movement. Like Gandhi, King would also have a tragic end, he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. King’s work in the American Civil Rights Movement helped change the course of our nation’s history and his victories that were won over racial segregations will forever be remembered.