“It was wonderful to be in Gandhi’s land,” wrote the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., a few months after returning from a monthlong visit to India in 1959. “I left India more convinced than ever before that nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.”
King says in his autobiography that “Gandhi was the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change” during the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott in 1956 that ended segregation on that city’s buses, and throughout the years King led the American civil rights movement.
King wanted to see for himself the results of Gandhi’s nonviolent campaign to end British colonial rule and improve the lives of India’s “untouchables” (members of the lowest social caste). Invited by Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, King, along with his wife, Coretta, and biographer Lawrence Reddick, arrived in Bombay (now Mumbai) on February 9, 1959, and traveled to New Delhi and several other cities over the next four weeks.