Ghandi is an international symbol of peace. His greatest influence was in Indian in the 1930s and 40s. Many Indian consider Ghandi the father of their nation, and changes he helped bring about give credence to that moniker. The two biggest changes Ghandi helped bring about were the end of British Rule in India and keeping the peace between India and Pakistan.
Ghandi’s activism and influence led to the end of British Rule of India. Ghandi fought for Indian independence from Britain for nearly 20 years. His influence is felt early on when, after he leads the Dhandi Salt March to protest the British salt tax, he is allowed to attend a conference in London on the future of India (Ghandi: Reckless Teenager to Father of India, n.d.). Ghandi continued to fight for Indian independence as was even jailed for encouraged Indians not to fight for the British in World War II (Bringing Down an Empire: Gandhi and Civil Disobedience, n.d.). In 1947 Britain could no longer fight off Ghandi’s influence and granted India its independence.
After India was granted independence that immediate issue was how the several religious groups in Indian would harmonize without British control. A muslim-majority region of India broke away and declared itself the independent nation of Pakistan. All these religious tensions led to violence about the muslim-majority nation of Pakistan and the Hindu-majority nation of India. Ghandi, still advocating his non-violence theories saved many lives through his activism on this issue. In 1948, Ghandi, a hindi himself, declared he would fast until violence stops in the city of Calcutta and that muslims were treated humanely (Ghandi and Civil Disobedience, n.d.). Ghandi’s fast was successful. Hindi and Muslim leaders even came to a peaceful resolution. Unfortunately Ghandi was assassinated shortly after and the peace did not last (Ghandi and Civil Disobedience, n.d.).
Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. is in many the closest thing Americans have to a figure such as Ghandi. Martin Luther King Jr. was hugely impactful in the United States, and is the only non-president with a memorial near the National Mall in Washington D.C. Martin Luther King’s biggest impacts were the passage of the Montgomery Boycotts and the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus. Martin Luther King Jr. seized the opportunity to organize a boycott of the city bus services that was immediately successful as African-American riders made up 75% of the city bus system’s ridership. (Montgomery Bus Boycott, n.d.). This was a huge blow to the funds of the bus system. Martin Luther King took the city to court and the segregation laws relating to buses were soon overturned as unconstitutional by the courts (Boycott, n.d.). This was the first big win for the Civil Rights Movement.
Following the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the African-American Civil Rights movements became a major issue in the United States with politicians more willing than ever to pass legislation to fix the inhumane treatment of many African-Americans. Martin Luther King Jr.’s activism kept pressure on politicians to pass some sort of comprehensive civil rights act. This activism culminated with the famed March on Washington, in which 200,000 people Marched to the Washington Monument in order to bring about change (March on Washington, n.d.). When the crowd reached the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream Speech” which is considered one of the greatest and most impactful speeches in American history. In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr.’s activism paid off, as Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“Bringing Down an Empire: Gandhi and Civil Disobedience.” (n.d.). Constitutional Rights Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.crf-usa.org/bill-of-rights-in-action/bria-16-3-b-bringing-down-an-empire-gandhi-and-civil-disobedience
Hardiman, David. “Ghandi: From Reckless Teenager to Father of India.” (n.d.). BBC. Retrieved from Hardiman, David. “Ghandi: From Reckless Teenager to Father of India.” (n.d.).
”March on Washington.” (n.d.). The History Channel. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/march-on-washington
“Montgomery Bus Boycott.” (n.d.). The History Channel. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/montgomery-bus-boycott