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Nonviolence

Nehru, Jawaharlal

The first prime minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and had advocated for India’s release from British rule. Nehru’s political and social work helped create an independent India in 1947, and inspired Martin Luther King in his own struggle for the freedom of African Americans in the United States. During King’s 1959 India trip, which he called “one of the most concentrated and eye-opening experiences” of his life, he met with Nehru (Papers 5:232).

James, C. L. R.

As an historian, cultural critic, and intellectual, Cyril Lionel Robert James internationalized Pan-Africanist ideas while making contributions to global Leftist political thought. After speaking to Martin Luther King in 1957, James wrote his colleagues that the Montgomery bus boycott was “one of the most astonishing events of endurance by a whole population that I have ever heard of” (James, 25 March 1957).

Lawson, James M.

As a minister who trained many activists in nonviolent resistance, James Lawson made a critical contribution to the civil rights movement. In his 1968 speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” Martin Luther King spoke of Lawson as one of the “noble men” who had influenced the black freedom struggle: “He’s been going to jail for struggling; he’s been kicked out of Vanderbilt University for this struggling; but he’s still going on, fighting for the rights of his people” (King, “I’ve Been,” 214).

Houser, George Mills

An original founder of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Houser expanded his activism for racial justice internationally in 1953, when he established the American Committee on Africa (ACOA). Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a member of ACOA’s national committee, regularly corresponded with Houser, writing that he felt an “abiding concern” for Houser and his work opposing colonialism and South African apartheid (King, 21 March 1963).

Gregg, Richard B.

Pacifist, writer, and activist Richard Gregg was the first American to publish a book on nonviolence. Gregg’s The Power of Nonviolence, published in 1934, explained Gandhi’s nonviolent principles and his methodology of social change. In the foreword to the book’s second edition (1959), Martin Luther King affirmed that “new ways of solving conflicts, without violence, must be discovered and put into operation” (Papers 5:99). In 1957, when King was asked by an official from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to name the books that most influenced him, he included Gregg’s book along with those of Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, and Walter Rauschenbusch.

Draft of Chapter XIV, "The Mastery of Fear or Antidotes for Fear"

King first developed a sermon on the subject of fear during the early years that King assisted his father at Ebenezer.1 In this sermon, developed from one that he preached at Dexter in 1957, he draws on the work of Riverside Church ministers Harry Emerson Fosdick and Robert McCracken, and theologians Paul Tillich and Joshua Liebman, to offer ways to conquer modern fears.2 King identifies fear as a major cause of war and prescribes love as

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