Besides Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and Buddha Shakyamuni, these include:
M. K. Gandhi
Martin Luther King
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
from M.K. Gandhi
Gandhi, pronounced GAHN dee or GAN dee, , pronounced moh huhn DAHS kur uhm CHUHND (1869-1948), was one of the foremost spiritual and political leaders of the 1900's. He helped free India from British control by a unique method of nonviolent resistance and is honored by the people of India as the father of their nation. Gandhi was slight in build but had limitless physical and moral strength. He was assassinated by an Indian who resented his program of tolerance for all creeds and religions.
Gandhi's beliefs. The people called Gandhi the Mahatma (Great Soul). His life was guided by a search for truth. He believed truth could be known only through tolerance and concern for others and that finding a truthful way to solutions required constant testing. He called his autobiography My Experiments with Truth. Gandhi overcame fear and taught others to master fear. He believed in nonviolence and taught that to be truly nonviolent required courage. He lived a simple life and thought it was wrong to kill animals for food or for clothing.
Gandhi developed a method of direct social action, based upon principles of courage, nonviolence, and truth, which he called Satyagraha. In this method, the way people behave is more important than what they achieve. Satyagraha was used to fight for India's independence and to bring about social change.
early life. Gandhi was born on Oct. 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India. His
parents belonged to a Vaisya (merchant) caste of Hindus. Young Gandhi was a
shy, serious boy. When he was 13 years old, he married Kasturba, a girl the
same age. Their parents had arranged the marriage. The Gandhis had four children.
Gandhi studied law in London. He returned to India in 1891 to practice law, but he met with little success.
In 1893, Gandhi went to South Africa to do some legal work. South Africa was then under British control. Almost immediately, he was abused because he was an Indian who claimed his rights as a British subject. He saw that all Indians suffered from discrimination. His law assignment was for one year, but he stayed in South Africa for 21 years to work for Indian rights.
Gandhi led many campaigns for Indian rights in South Africa and edited a newspaper, Indian Opinion. As part of Satyagraha, he promoted civil disobedience campaigns and organized a strike among Indian miners. He was arrested many times by the British, but his efforts brought important reforms. Gandhi also worked for the British when he felt justice was on their side. He was decorated by them for paramedic work in the Boer War (1899-1902) and the Zulu Rebellion (1906).
Gandhi's independence campaigns. In 1914, Gandhi returned to India. Within five years, he became the leader of the Indian nationalist movement.
In 1919, the British imperial government introduced the Rowlatt bills to make it unlawful to organize opposition to the government. Gandhi led a Satyagraha campaign that succeeded in preventing passage of one of these bills. The other was never enforced. Gandhi called off the campaign when riots broke out. He then fasted to impress the people with the need to be nonviolent. His belief in the cruelty of imperial rule was demonstrated by the Amritsar Massacre of April 13, 1919. A British general ordered his men to fire on an unarmed crowd, and almost 400 Indians were killed. This made Gandhi even more determined to develop Satyagraha and to win independence through nonviolent resistance.
Gandhi began a program of hand spinning and weaving about 1920. He believed the program (1) aided economic freedom by making India self-sufficient in cloth; (2) promoted social freedom through the dignity of labor; and (3) advanced political freedom by challenging the British textile industry and by preparing Indians for self-government.
In 1930, Gandhi led hundreds of followers on a 240-mile (386-kilometer) march to the sea, where they made salt from seawater. This was a protest against the Salt Acts, which made it a crime to possess salt not bought from the government. During World War II (1939-1945), Gandhi continued his struggle for India's freedom through nonviolent disobedience to British rule. He was jailed for the last time in 1942. Altogether, he spent seven years in prison for political activity. He believed that it is honorable to go to jail for a good cause.
Freedom and death. India was granted freedom in 1947. But the partition of India into India and Pakistan grieved Gandhi. He was saddened also by the rioting between Hindus and Muslims that followed. Gandhi had worked for a united country, and he had urged Hindus and Muslims to live together in peace.
On Jan. 13, 1948, at the age of 78, Gandhi began his last fast. His purpose was to end the bloodshed among Hindu, Muslim, and other groups. On January 18, their leaders pledged to stop fighting and Gandhi broke his fast. Twelve days later, in New Delhi, while on his way to a prayer meeting, Gandhi was assassinated. Nathuram Godse, a Hindu fanatic who opposed Gandhi's program of tolerance for all creeds and religions, shot him three times.
A shocked India and a saddened world mourned Gandhi's death. The great scientist Albert Einstein said of Gandhi: "Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood."
Dr. Martin Luther King
Quotes from Martin Luther King
King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1929-1968), an African American Baptist minister, was the main leader of the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1950's and 1960's. He had a magnificent speaking ability, which enabled him to effectively express the demands of African Americans for social justice. King's eloquent pleas won the support of millions of people--blacks and whites--and made him internationally famous. He won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for leading nonviolent civil rights demonstrations.
In spite of King's stress on nonviolence, he often became the target of violence. White racists threw rocks at him in Chicago and bombed his home in Montgomery, Alabama. Finally, violence ended King's life at the age of 39, when an assassin shot and killed him.
view King's death as the end of the civil rights era that began in the mid-1950's.
Under his leadership, the civil rights movement won wide support among whites,
and laws that had barred integration in the Southern States were abolished.
King became only the second American whose birthday is observed as a national
holiday. The first was George Washington, the nation's first president.
King based his program of nonviolence on Christian teachings. He wrote five books: Stride Toward Freedom (1958), Strength to Love (1963), Why We Can't Wait (1964), Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967), and The Trumpet of Conscience (1968).
Early life. King was born on Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the second oldest child of Alberta Williams King and Martin Luther King. He had an older sister, Christine, and a younger brother, A. D. The young Martin was usually called M. L. His father was pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. One of Martin's grandfathers, A. D. Williams, also had been pastor there.
In high school, Martin did so well that he skipped both the 9th and 12th grades. At the age of 15, he entered Morehouse College in Atlanta. King became an admirer of Benjamin E. Mays, Morehouse's president and a well-known scholar of black religion. Under Mays's influence, King decided to become a minister.
King was ordained just before he graduated from Morehouse in 1948. He entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, to earn a divinity degree. King then went to graduate school at Boston University, where he got a Ph.D. degree in theology in 1955. In Boston, he met Coretta Scott of Marion, Alabama, a music student. They were married in 1953. The Kings had four children--Yolanda, Dexter, Martin, and Bernice. In 1954, King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
The early civil rights movement. King's civil rights activities began with a protest of Montgomery's segregated bus system in 1955. That year, a black passenger named Rosa Parks was arrested for disobeying a city law requiring that blacks give up their seats on buses when white people wanted to sit in their seats or in the same row. Black leaders in Montgomery urged blacks to boycott (refuse to use) the city's buses. The leaders formed an organization to run the boycott, and asked King to serve as president. In his first speech as leader of the boycott, King told his black colleagues: "First and foremost, we are American citizens. ... We are not here advocating violence. ... The only weapon that we have ... is the weapon of protest. ... The great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right."
Terrorists bombed King's home, but King continued to insist on nonviolent protests. Thousands of blacks boycotted the buses for over a year. In 1956, the United States Supreme Court ordered Montgomery to provide equal, integrated seating on public buses. The boycott's success won King national fame and identified him as a symbol of Southern blacks' new efforts to fight racial injustice.
With other black ministers, King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957 to expand the nonviolent struggle against racism and discrimination. At the time, widespread segregation existed throughout the South in public schools, and in transportation, recreation, and such public facilities as hotels and restaurants. Many states also used various methods to deprive blacks of their voting rights. In 1960, King moved from Montgomery to Atlanta to devote more effort to SCLC's work. He became co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father.
The growing movement. In 1960, black college students across the South began sitting at lunch counters and entering other facilities that refused to serve blacks. Civil rights protests expanded further, including major demonstrations in Albany, Ga. Also in the early 1960's, King became increasingly unhappy that President John F. Kennedy was doing little to advance civil rights. Early in 1963, King and his SCLC associates launched massive demonstrations to protest racial discrimination in Birmingham, Ala., one of the South's most segregated cities. Police used dogs and fire hoses to drive back peaceful protesters, including children. Heavy news coverage of the violence produced a national outcry against segregation. Soon afterward, Kennedy proposed a wide-ranging civil rights bill to Congress.
King and other civil rights leaders then organized a massive march in Washington, D.C. The event, called the March on Washington, was intended to highlight African-American unemployment and to urge Congress to pass Kennedy's bill. On Aug. 28, 1963, over 200,000 Americans, including many whites, gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in the capital. The high point of the rally, King's stirring "I Have a Dream" speech, eloquently defined the moral basis of the civil rights movement.
The movement won a major victory in 1964, when Congress passed the civil rights bill that Kennedy and his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson, had recommended. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited racial discrimination in public places and called for equal opportunity in employment and education. King later received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1965, King helped organize protests in Selma, Ala. The demonstrators protested against the efforts of white officials there to deny most black citizens the chance to register and vote. Several hundred protesters attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital, but police officers used tear gas and clubs to break up the group. The bloody attack, broadcast nationwide on television news shows, shocked the public. King immediately announced another attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery. Johnson went before Congress to request a bill that would eliminate all barriers to Southern blacks' right to vote. Within a few months, Congress approved the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Chicago campaign. By 1965, King had come to believe that civil rights leaders should pay more attention to the economic problems of blacks. In 1966, he helped begin a major civil rights campaign in Chicago, his first big effort outside the South. Leaders of the campaign tried to organize black inner-city residents who suffered from unemployment, bad housing, and poor schools. The leaders also protested against real estate practices that kept blacks from living in many neighborhoods and suburbs. King believed such practices played a major role in trapping poor blacks in urban ghettos.
King and the local leaders also organized marches through white neighborhoods. But angry white people in these segregated communities threw bottles and rocks at the demonstrators. Soon afterward, Chicago officials promised to encourage fair housing practices in the city if King would stop the protests. King accepted the offer, and the Chicago campaign ended.
Later years. Continued violence against civil rights workers in the South frustrated many blacks, including members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1966, SNCC leaders urged a more aggressive response to the violence and began to use the slogan "Black Power." That phrase troubled King and many white supporters of racial equality. Many people thought the religious, nonviolent emphasis of the civil rights movement was changing. King repeated his commitment to nonviolence, but disputes among civil rights groups over "Black Power" suggested that King no longer spoke for the whole movement.
In 1967, King became more critical of American society than ever before. He believed poverty was as great an evil as racism. He said that true social justice would require a redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. Thus, King began to plan a Poor People's Campaign that would unite poor people of all races in a struggle for economic opportunity. The campaign would demand a federal guaranteed annual income for poor people and other major antipoverty laws.
Also in 1967, King attacked U.S. support of South Vietnam in the Vietnam War (1957-1975). He regarded the South Vietnamese government as corrupt and undemocratic. Many supporters of the war denounced King's criticisms, but the growing antiwar movement welcomed his comments.
King's death. While organizing the Poor People's Campaign, King went to Memphis to support a strike of black garbage workers. There, on April 4, 1968, King was shot and killed. James Earl Ray, a white drifter and escaped convict, pleaded guilty to the crime in March 1969 and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Ray later tried to withdraw his plea, but his conviction was upheld.
the world mourned King's death. King was buried in South View Cemetery in Atlanta.
His body was later moved near Ebenezer Baptist Church. On King's tombstone are
the words: "Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I'm free at
King's assassination produced immediate shock, grief, and anger. Blacks rioted in more than 100 cities. A few months later, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prohibited racial discrimination in the sale and rental of most housing in the nation.
Years after King's death, some people still doubted that Ray had acted alone. In 1978, a special committee of the U.S. House of Representatives reported the "likelihood" that Ray was aided by others.
In 1980, an area including King's birthplace, church, and burial place became the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site. In 1983, Congress passed a federal holiday honoring King. The day is celebrated on the third Monday in January. In 1991, the National Civil Rights Museum opened at the site of King's assassination in Memphis. The museum's exhibits cover the history of the civil rights movement. King's son Martin Luther King III was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1997.
Contributor: David J. Garrow, Ph.D., Presidential Distinguished Professor, Emory University; author, Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; winner of Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography, 1987.
Malcolm X (1925-1965) was one of the most influential African American leaders of the 1950's and 1960's. He transformed himself from a petty criminal into an important defender of the rights of blacks.
Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska. His father was a follower of Marcus Garvey, a black leader who worked to establish close political and economic ties to Africa. In 1931, Malcolm's father was found dead after being run over by a streetcar. Malcolm believed white racists were responsible for his father's death. When Malcolm was 12 years old, his mother was committed to a mental hospital. Malcolm spent the rest of his childhood in foster homes. He also became discouraged by racial prejudice around him.
In 1941, Malcolm moved to Boston. The youth became involved in criminal activities. In 1946, he was arrested for burglary and sent to prison. In prison, he joined the Nation of Islam, commonly called the Black Muslims. The Nation of Islam taught that white people were devils. After Malcolm was released from prison in 1952, he adopted X as his last name. The letter stood for the unknown African name of Malcolm's slave ancestors.
Malcolm X quickly became the Nation of Islam's most effective minister. He was a fiery orator, urging blacks to live separately from whites and to win their freedom "by any means necessary." But he became dissatisfied with the Nation of Islam, in part because the group avoided political activity.
In 1964, Malcolm X broke with the Nation of Islam. Soon afterward, he traveled to the Muslim holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. He met Muslims of many ethnic backgrounds and rejected the view that all white people are devils. Malcolm X adopted the Muslim name El-Hajj Malik El-Shabbazz. After returning to the United States, he formed his own group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
Malcolm X rejected nonviolence as a principle, but he sought cooperation with Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights activists who favored militant (aggressive) nonviolent protests. But by this time, some Black Muslims had condemned Malcolm X as a hypocrite and traitor because of his criticisms of the group's leader, Elijah Muhammad. On Feb. 21, 1965, Malcolm X was fatally shot while giving a speech in New York City. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of the crime. Malcolm's views reached many people after his death through his Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965).
Chavez, pronounced SHAH vehz, Cesar Estrada (1927-1993), was a labor union organizer and spokesman for the poor--especially his fellow Mexican American farmworkers. He supported nonviolent action to achieve his aims.
Chavez was born on a farm near Yuma, Arizona. When he was 10 years old, his parents lost their farm and the family became migrant workers in California.
Chavez began to organize grape pickers in California in 1962, when he established the National Farm Workers Association with activist Dolores Huerta. In 1966, his union merged with another one into the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee (UFWOC). The two earlier unions had been on strike since 1965 against California grape growers. After the merger, California's wine grape growers agreed to accept the UFWOC as the collective bargaining agent for the grape pickers. But the table grape growers refused to do so. Chavez then organized a nationwide boycott of California table grapes. In 1970, most table grape growers agreed to accept the union, and the boycott ended. Later that year, Chavez called for a boycott of lettuce produced by growers without union contracts. In 1973, the union changed its name to the United Farm Workers of America (UFW). Many grape growers failed to renew their contracts in 1973, and Chavez led a new grape boycott. He ended the boycotts of lettuce and grapes in 1978.
Chavez remained personally committed to nonviolence despite occasional outbreaks of violence during UFW strikes. He declared that the "truest act of courage ... is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally nonviolent struggle for justice."
Source: The World Book
Combatants for Peace: The "Combatants for Peace" movement was started jointly by Palestinians and Israelis, who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence; Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians as part of the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom. After brandishing weapons for so many years, and having seen one another only through weapon sights, we have decided to put down our guns, and to fight for peace.