Martin Luther King III will lead a delegation including civil rights icons John Lewis and Andrew Young on a 13-day trip to India to mark the 50th anniversary of his parents' pilgrimage to the country to study nonviolence.
The Rev Martin Luther King Jr and his wife, Coretta Scott King, traveled to India in 1959, just four years after he successfully led the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, to end segregation on public transportation. After his trip, King was more determined to end racism through nonviolent means as a result of a deeper understanding of the principles he learned from Mahatma Gandhi, who used civil disobedience in the struggle for Indian independence in the early 20th century.
"Gandhi represents so much to me personally," King said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Thursday. "It's an incredible honor to be able to retrace those steps and meet with some of the people who were engaged with my parents." King said he also looks forward to making the trip with Lewis and Young, who worked alongside his father during the black civil rights movement.
"To have the opportunity to go with them is going to be a very special experience," he said.
The group leaves on Friday and returns Feb 26. King is founder of Realizing the Dream Inc., a nonprofit organization he started in 2006 to continue his parents' work championing peace, justice and equality.
He said the philosophy of nonviolence is needed now more than ever. Among the cities he plans to visit is Mumbai, site of the November terrorist attacks which killed 164 people. King said he expects the trip will be an inspirational one. "It's like we're recommitting ourselves to fulfill the unfinished work of my parents and Gandhi," he said. "Fifty years after my dad went, I'm able to go to India as an ambassador of my father's legacy."