Martin Luther King, Jr. - Travels
I planned to use for the textual basis for our thinking together that passage from the prologue of the book of Job where Satan is pictured as asking God, "Does Job serve thee for nought?" And I’d like to ask you to allow me to hold that sermon ["Why Serve God?"] in abeyance and preach it the next time I am in the pulpit in order to share with you some other ideas.
Upon returning from Ghana, King used several occasions to share his experiences with friends and supporters in Montgomery.1 In his first sermon following his return, King draws upon Exodus to frame his impressions of Ghana's battle against colonialism. He elaborates on the spiritual and political significance of the new nation’s independence movement: “Ghana has something to say to us. It says to us first, that the oppressor never voluntarily gives freedom to the oppressed.
On 2 March the Kings left for the Gold Coast, stopping in New York City where they joined Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, and Ralph Bunche before continuing to Accra by way of Lisbon, Dakar, and Monrovia. At a 5 March reception in Accra, King and Vice President Nixon met for the first time.
On 10 July 1959, Christian Century editor Harold Fey asked King to write an article for “How My Mind Has Changed,” a series of “statements by significant thinkers” reflecting their intellectual and spiritual development over the previous ten years.
As King recounts his recent visit to the Middle East, he recalls falling to his knees and weeping during a visit to Calvary. He observes that Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was “something that nobody could demand him to do,” making him “a man who had the amazing capacity to be obedient to unenforceable obligations.” King tells his congregation that the cross is ultimately a symbol of hope: “We’ve been buried in numerous graves—the grave of economic insecurity, the grave of exploitation, the grave of oppression. We’ve watched justice trampled over and truth crucified.
Returning to his pulpit after an absence of nearly two months, King discusses the life of Gandhi, suggesting that “more than anybody else in the modern world” he had “caught the spirit of Jesus Christ, and lived it more completely in his life.” Referring to Gandhi as one of Jesus’s “other sheep," he observes that “it is one of the strange ironies of the modern world that the greatest Christian of the twentieth century was not a member of the Christian church.” King continues by comparing the lives of three martyred leaders, Jesus, Gandhi, and Abraham Lincoln, noting that
After six weeks abroad, King arrived in New York on the morning of 18 March and met with a small group of reporters at the Statler Hilton Hotel. Along with offering brief remarks to the press and answering their questions, King distributed copies of this statement in which he urges aid from the West to India to “help save one of the great nations of the World for democracy.” He also praises India for “integrating its untouchables faster than the United States is integrating its Negro minority.”1
In his account of his India tour published in Ebony magazine, King notes that Gandhi’s spirit is still alive, though “some of his disciples have misgivings about this when . . .
During his final evening in India, King recorded this statement for broadcast on All India Radio. This transcript is drawn from an audio recording.1
Leaders in and out of government, organizations—particularly the Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and the Quaker Centre—and many homes and families have done their utmost to make our short stay both pleasant and instructive.
On 3 February King departed for India from New York’s Idlewild Airport in the company of his wife, Coretta, and his biographer, Alabama State College history professor Lawrence D. Reddick.