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"Notes for Conversation between King and Nehru"

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Date: February 10, 1959?

Genre: Report

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. - Travels


King’s late arrival in New Delhi caused him to miss his meeting with Prime Minister Nehru on 9 February, but King soon learned that Nehru had agreed to reschedule for the following evening.1 Coretta King later recalled that her husband and the Indian leader discussed nonviolence and compared the struggles in India and the United States for four hours.2

While it is uncertain who prepared these notes, Reddick’s unpublished 1968 memoir of the India trip suggested that they reflect the points King had hoped to cover in his meeting with Nehru.3 A few weeks after the meeting, Nehru wrote to the secretary of the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi of his “great pleasure” in meeting King.4

  1. What is the present status of non-violent social change in the world today?
    1. for domestic problems
    2. for international relations
  2. How vital and socially useful is Gandhianism in India’s current struggle to improve the welfare of its people?
    1. what modifications are required?
    2. does it conflict with industrialization or national defense?
  3. Can a nation committed to democracy make progress toward ma good life for all of its people fast enough for them not to desert democracy for the more rapid progress of communism?
    1. China or India?
    2. Which way will Africa go?
  4. How can the bonds of friendship between the Negro people of America and the people of India be made stronger?
    1. exchange of students and professors and journalists
    2. visits to the South of Indian leaders and visits of Negro leaders to India.

1. Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi, and Lady Edwina Mountbatten, the last colonial vicereine in India, were also in attendance that evening at Teen Murti Bhavan, the prime minister’s home.

2. Coretta Scott King, My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969), pp. 174-175.

3. Reddick recalled: “In our little caucus before the dinner, the Kings and I had decided to talk about non-violence, of course, but in its application to international affairs; also, we would ask of the possibility of scholarships in Indian universities for black American students” (Reddick, “With King through India: A personal memoir,” 1968).

4. Nehru to G. Ramachandran, 5 March 1959.

Source: MLKP-MBU, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, Mass.

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