'Without Gandhi, There would be no Obama as President'

Washington, Oct 8 (IANS) "I surely believe without (Mahatma) Gandhi - without Gandhi in India - there would be no Barack Obama as president" of the United States.

So said John Lewis, an American civil rights movement leader and a close friend of the late Dr Martin Luther King Jr, at a Capitol Hill event here Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr King and his wife Coretta Scott King's visit to India.

"There is a trend, there is a strain, there is what I call the spirit of history, and every now and then in the history of humankind, that spirit strikes down some embodiment of change - some force," said Lewis, a member of the US House of Representatives.

"I think it was Englishman Arnold Toynbee who had suggested that it may be in the end, the American Negro who would take the message of Gandhi to the Western world," said Lewis, who marched with Dr King in Selma, Alabama, in the 1960s.

"Martin Luther King, Jr, became the embodiment and we followed him," added Lewis, who was one of the awardees at Wednesday's event also celebrating the partnership between the Indian-American, Jewish-American and African-American communities.

The event was co-hosted by the American-Jewish Committee, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples, the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and the newly formed US-Asian Organisation.

Indian Ambassador to US Meera Shankar said the historic visit of the Kings to India 50 years ago and the 50th anniversary journey "that Congressman Lewis led in February this year remind us of the values and ideals that bond our two great democracies and also our struggles and our triumphs."

She lauded Lewis's proposal in the US Congress "to set up a Gandhi-King scholarly exchange initiative focusing on peace and non-violence and global conflict resolution."

The Gandhi-King Scholarly Exchange Initiative Act of 2009 introduced by Lewis on July 24 is now pending before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


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  • Wilfred J. Lewis, Matpady-Brahmavar/ manhattan-New York USA

    Thu, Oct 08 2009

    Elected to Congress in November 1986, Honorable John Lewis represents Georgia’s 5th Congressional District. In 1996, John Lewis was unopposed in his bid for a sixth term is currently serving his eighth term in office. In the current Congress, John Lewis is a member of the House Ways & Means Committee serves on the Subcommittee on Health & Subcommittee on Oversight. Also, Congressman John Lewis serves as a Chief Deputy Democratic Party Whip. Honorable John Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religion and Philosophy from Fisk University and he is a graduate of the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee. He has also been awarded numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities throughout the United States Congressman John Lewis is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-Violent Peace Prize. In the Library of Congress records John Lewis is described as “One of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced,” John Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting human rights. He was recognized as one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, along with Dr. M L King. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, from 1963 to 1966, John Lewis was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), despite more that 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, Honorable John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of philosophy & nonviolence.

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