‘I leave with renewed commitment to non-violence’

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PAYING HOMAGE: Martin Luther King III lights a candle on the tomb of Mother Teresa during his visit to the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata on Thursday.
PAYING HOMAGE: Martin Luther King III lights a candle on the tomb of Mother Teresa during his visit to the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata on Thursday.

Indrani Dutta

King pays homage to Mother Teresa before finishing his India visit

Kolkata: Caught in a vortex of emotions on the last evening of his trip in India, Martin Luther King III said the visit had been a life-changing experience for him. He said India’s greatest gift were its children.

Participating in a press meet organised by the American Centre here on Thursday, he said: “I have mixed emotions on the last evening in this trip to a beautiful country… and it is appropriate to end the visit with this city.”

“When we arrived we knew we were in for a spectacular experience. But we did not realise that it would be a life-changing experience for us… I leave with renewed commitment to non-violence,” the second oldest child of Martin Luther King Jr said.

“We drew tremendous inspiration from this trip and we will have to come back,” he said.

Stresses non-violence

The human rights advocate, who also visited West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi during the day, stressed the importance of teaching the principles and concept of non-violence to children. “There is a group of young people willing to embrace the philosophy of non-violence. It has to be taught that philosophy,” he said.

To continue the legacy and the unfinished work of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King III founded a non-profit international organisation called Realising the Dream which seeks to re-articulate for this century, the challenges and opportunities for championing peace, justice and equality.

He said its children were its greatest resource. “This is the greatest gift that this nation has in addition to its great progress since 50 years [his parents visited India in 1959],” he remarked, adding that the way a nation’s children are raised ultimately decides its future shape.

Tackling terror

On tackling terrorism, he said: “Ways have to be found to communicate with them. Engage in dialogues with people. We have to set examples instead of harbouring grudges. I am against carrying a burden of hatred and we have to learn how to settle grievances without destroying property.” Non-violence is a method which can be used effectively, he felt. The community activist also visited ‘Mother House’ and lit a candle at the tomb of Mother Teresa.

On U.S.’ foreign policy and the changes expected under Barack Obama, he said things had already begun to change. However the focus in U.S. now was how to repair the economy, he said.

Set an example

“President Obama has galvanised the imagination of the nation particularly the young people and his message is one of inclusiveness. Americans do not want to be polarised,” he said. “This leadership will produce a positive environment and set an example.”

U.S. Consul General Beth Payne said Dr. King’s trip to India 50 years ago stands as a landmark of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and a real testament to the bonds of affection and shared history between the two nations. She said Dr. King’s dream was as relevant today as it was on August 28, 1963 when he spoke of his desire for a future where blacks and whites, among others would co-exist harmoniously as equals.

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