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Gandhi Foundation notes debt of immigrants and minorities to Dr. King

By Mahadev Desai
March 2015
Gandhi Foundation notes debt of immigrants and minorities to Dr. King

Ramanuj Srinivasan delivers his remarks as his father, Consul R. Srinivasan looks on. (Photo: Ravi Ponangi)



The Gandhi Foundation of USA (GFUSA) celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 86th birth anniversary at the MLK Jr. National Historic Site on Monday, January 19, 2015. The well-attended event was graced by the presence of Hon. R. Srinivasan from the Consulate General of India in Atlanta and his family.

Executive Director - GFUSA, Antony Thaliath gave the welcoming address: “Dr. King fought for equality and justice for all. We, the new immigrants from all over the world, are indebted to Dr. King and all those who fought in the streets of Selma and Montgomery, all those who paved the way for a dignified life for not only the African Americans but also for all minorities in this country. … Our children will live in a global community. And I believe the unified dream of love and tolerance preached by these two great souls, Gandhi and King, can be the guiding light to move our global community forward, to build mutual understanding and respect for each other, to show how much more we can accomplish together than by tearing us apart.

“We are really fortunate to be living in this great city of Atlanta were Dr. King lived his life and led the civil rights movement. And we are proud to gather here today to honor Dr. King and celebrate his birthday, life and legacy. … And I would like to extend a special welcome to our media who have been dedicated and committed to spread the messages of Gandhi and King to the people.”




Mahadev Desai and Ravi Ponangi. 

Thaliath recognized Atlanta’s media representatives, freelance journalist Mahadev Desai, India Tribune’s Ravi Ponangi, Viren Mayani, and TV Asia’s Anjali Chhabria who were present, lauded their services to the community, and requested them to garland Gandhi ji’s statue.





Narender Reddy, past president of Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Sandhya Bhagat, founding director of theatre group ‘Dhoop Chaoon,’ and TV Asia's Anjali Chhabria garlanding the statue. (Photo: Mahadev Desai)

Urdu poet Sadaf and her husband Azhar Farooqui also garlanded the statue. (Photo: Ravi Ponangi)




(Left) Hon. Consul R. Srinivasan. (Photo: Mahadev Desai)

After garlanding Gandhi’s statue, Hon. Srinivasan spoke and then requested his son Ramanuj Srinivasan, a 10th-grader at Northview High School, to say a few words. Ramanuj was one of 12 students selected from various schools to speak at the King's Commemorative service at Ebenezer Baptist Church on January 19, 2015.

Ramanuj commented that “There are multiple events that transpired in the name of Mahatma Gandhi that have led to the present day. All these inspirational marches and speeches have helped students and adults to learn about the strong methods of nonviolence across the globe. In 1957 Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled to India to learn about all of Gandhi's teachings. He stated, ‘To India I come as visitor, from here I leave as a pilgrim.’ He … initiated the Civil Rights Act which can be considered one of the greatest events in American history. And today, we can thank heroes like Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and many more to have inspired the generation today.”

Narender Reddy appealed to the Indian community to attend and support Gandhi Foundations events. Viren Mayani noted the King National Historic Site’s celebrations 50th anniversaries [see Website Bonus Feature], and said, “As the King family suggests, it is a day ‘ON’ and not a day ‘OFF.’ Let us act on the peace and nonviolence initiatives that these two apostles of peace gave us in legacy and laid down their lives for. Let us remember that Freedom is not cheap and Freedom is certainly not FREE.”

Sharda Patel_0955_320.jpg



(Left) Sharda Patel. (Photo: Mahadev Desai)

Following the floral homage to Gandhiji at the statue, Shardaben Patel led the singing of Gandhi’s favorite bhajans “Raghupati Raghav” and “Vaishanava Janato.”



Raj Razdan offered the thanks, and the gathering “Walked in Peace” to the King crypts, where bouquets were placed as homage to the champions of Civil Rights Dr. King and his wife Coretta Scott King.

Gandhi_Viren crypts_9896_680.jpg

Floral tribute at the crypt by Viren Mayani. (Photo: Ravi Ponangi)

Website Bonus Feature

In his brief comments Mahadev Desai thanked GFUSA and said, “I indeed feel it an honor to be invited to garland Mahatma Gandhiji’s Statue with my media colleague Ravi Ponangi. I thank Gandhi Foundation for recognizing the media today. I have always cherished my association with the Foundation since the days the initial Task Force was formed by the current Gandhi Foundation Chairman Subash Razdan, and the late Giri Raj Rao, a few other members of the community; and with the inspiration and support of the King Center; the late Coretta Scott King and the former Mayor Andrew Young, the Gandhi Statue was installed in 1998. Since then, the iconic Statue has been a beacon of hope and inspiration to thousands of visitors every year. As a journalist I feel blessed for the opportunity to do media coverage of Dr. King’s Birth Anniversary, Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary; visits to the Gandhi Statue by the India Ambassadors, Consuls, and other visiting dignitaries from abroad to pay homage to world’s two great apostles of peace and nonviolence; and many memorable and outstanding events hosted by the Foundation. I thank the Gandhi Foundation for this honor which I accept on behalf of all my media colleagues, and look forward to my continued association with the Gandhi Foundation. I feel that I am standing here among family members.”

MLK Jr. “50 years” celebrations:

King Holiday Observance Celebration 2015

The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site commemorated the 30th observance of the Federal Holiday that honors the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with several special activities and events in collaboration with The King Center, Ebenezer Baptist Church and other community-based organizations.

On January 15, 2015, the National Park Service hosted a public event honoring the 86th birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On January 16, 2015, there was an artistic tribute to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 50th year legacy as a recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and his journey as a courageous leader of Civil Rights in America.

On January 16, 2015, the National Park Service's cooperating association, Eastern National, hosted a special Book Signing with members of the King Family and notable author, Dr. Lavarn Watson.

On January 16, 2015, there will be an artistic tribute to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 50th year legacy as a recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and his journey as a courageous leader of Civil Rightsin America. The tribute will highlight the musical talents of the Modern American Civil Rights Movement through song, poetry, spoken word, liturgical dance and other forms of artistic expression. This program will also celebrate the musical messages captured in the experience of the African American Church, an institution that Dr. King and others used as a pathway to galvanize support during the long- standing struggle for Civil Rights and Equality in America. This event will be held in the Heritage Sanctuary at Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church and begin at 7:00 PM. The address for this event is at 407 Auburn Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30312.

2015 is the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

Dec 2014 was the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

2013 was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “I have a dream” speech.

President Lyndon Johnson signs the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. Behind him stands the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. (Wikimedia Commons)

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