Editor’s note: The following two letters were written by students at Hopkins School as part of a class project.
Martin Luther King Jr. was inspired in many ways by Indian protester Mahatma Gandhi during the civil rights movement. To start, Martin Luther King said that Gandhi was a guiding light for him. King was taught by Gandhi to protest with nonviolence to solve problems instead of guns and fistfights. King continued to protest against segregation with his passion and teachings from Gandhi.
Sometimes being quiet and peaceful about a big situation can help solve the situation more than if you were to bring more violence into the whole thing. This is because then everybody wants revenge against everyone and it soon becomes war.
Secondly, Gandhi taught King to “love his enemies.” Even though they may hate you, that does not mean you have to hate them. King connected these words to the words of Jesus from the Bible. He used this quote of loving your enemies to use in the civil rights movement. He used this to peacefully protest against segregation in the South. Hating your enemies does not do any good to anyone, it does not fix anything, instead it just makes things worse than they already are.
Lastly, King admired the idea that people could use truth or love to fight back instead of using weapons and hate. King continued to use this saying throughout his life. He never fought back with fists or weapons. Instead, he used peaceful acts and fought back with silence. An example of this is when he and many other African-American citizens of Alabama teamed up together to boycott segregated buses. Instead of threatening to hurt people they worked together and chose not to ride segregated buses until people of color could sit wherever they would like on the bus no matter what.
In conclusion, Martin Luther King Jr. was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi because of all of his ideas of peaceful protests, nonviolence and using truth and love instead of hate. Can you imagine a world that didn’t have Martin Luther King Jr. help protest against segregation? Where would we be? What would we do?
— Kathryn Butkus, Grade 5, Hopkinton
Martin Luther King Jr. Day just passed, and as you may know, Dr. King was a peaceful civil rights leader from 1955 to 1968. He was known for his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Therefore we remember his noble deeds by celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national holiday in mid-January. But have you ever wondered what truly motivated him to be a true leader of people? It was Mahatma Gandhi in India who inspired Dr. King across the globe to fight for ordinary people and for their rights.
An article at Biography.com and adapted by Newsela (published Jan. 23, 2019) states, “Martin Luther King Jr.’s use of nonviolence was inspired by Gandhi.” It reports that “Dr. King drew heavily on the Gandhian idea of nonviolence in his own activism, and Martin Luther King Jr. wrote that Gandhi was a guiding light for him.” They both looked at the idea of nonviolence and love as a weapon — meaning that they didn’t need to use real weapons to attack their enemies but they peacefully protested and got their equality without hurting anyone.
It is in the text that quotes Reverend King saying, “Christ showed us the way, and Gandhi in India showed us it could work.” Even though they weren’t the same religion, Reverend King pieced together the words of Jesus and the deeds of Mahatma Gandhi to fight for what he believed.
The text tells us that “Dr. King saw nonviolence as an expression of love for all people.” It’s a way of reaching people and convincing them of the rightness of your cause. Dr. King knew that by not attacking people and being innocent but promoting nonviolence and peace would draw people into their side. It’s the same way Gandhi protested peacefully against the British wrongdoings with the famous Salt March.
In conclusion you can clearly tell that Dr. King was inspired by Gandhi and his human rights, love and principles of nonviolence. So when Martin Luther King Jr. Day comes around, please take a moment to think about all the sacrifices he did for our country. In the end, it was his continuous noble fight for civil rights that brought us together as a nation. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. will continue to inspire and motivate everyone in this world, and their good deeds and memories will never fade from people’s minds in generations to come.
— Roma Abraham, Grade 5, Hopkinton