Gandhi-King Global Network Statement on Black Lives Matter

From Chris Norwood- Milpitas, California:

As a Governance Board of Trustee Leader of the Milpitas Unified School District, a K-12 public education school district in Silicon Valley, it is imperative we strive to exemplify in our educational practices and “Culture of We” a global understanding of humanitarian opportunities and global citizenry based on unreputable fact in pursuit of liberty and prosperity.

From David Gengan – Pietermaritzburg, South Africa:

It is extremely saddening and disappointing that centuries after the abolition of slavery in the western world and apartheid in the southern tip of Africa racism still rears its ugly head. The recent deaths in the US of Black men and women as a result of police brutality has focused the attention of the world on racism that exists at all levels of our society. We cannot remain silent whilst these acts against simple humanity and justice are continually being perpetrated. The events in the US reveal how ingrained racism has become, and apart from the violent deaths, there is still discrimination and a lack of opportunity for Black people to take their rightful place in society through what some are calling systemic racism in education, the economy, and the like.
In showing support for the protests for justice, and an end to racial discrimination, we urge protesters and demonstrators to utilize non-violent means, a legacy of Gandhi, Mandela and King. One of the tools used by these great activists was satyagraha, which is truth-force. We must endeavor to change the mindsets of the oppressors through active love not hate. This is not a call to be passive. Rather, it is through demonstrations and protest that we must appeal to the conscience of the oppressors, to educate them and in so doing bring about the transformation that everyone wants, where no one’s breath is stifled, where life matters.

From Rajmohan Gandhi – Illinois, United States:

Drawing inspiration from young Americans of all races who in a time of unemployment and a pandemic have captured the world’s attention through their demonstrations for justice, equality, and dignity, we urge all societies and nations to repudiate doctrines justifying the domination of some over others, and to recognize the equal humanity of every person; and we ask all nation-states to ensure that their institutions of justice and law enforcement protect vulnerable minorities.

Dr. Clayborne Carson- Stanford, California, United States:

I will be eternally grateful to young activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. They have reminded us that human rights is an ideal that must be pursued by grassroots activism rather than always unreliable nations and other powerful institutions that prioritize their own interests. To protect and expand our human rights, we need a global network of individuals and groups willing to use the nonviolent strategies and tactics that we have inherited from previous movements to end slavery, colonialism, and other forms of systemic domination. The Gandhi-King Global Network is another step in the long struggle to liberate humanity from the injustices of the past and build a just and peaceful future.

We reach out to grassroots organizations throughout the world dedicated to practicing disciplined nonviolence and satyagraha (truth-force) to fight injustice in all forms — including racism, poverty and inequality, militarism, sexism, climate chaos and environmental harm — and to build the Beloved Community Dr. King envisioned: please join us in dialogue, collaboration, mutual empowerment, and joint action.

Douglas T. McGetchin- Jupiter, Florida, United States:

The murders of George Floyd, Georgia jogger Ahmaud Arbery, and sleeping first responder Breonna Taylor are the latest in a long line of victims to the violence of racism, segregation, Jim Crow discrimination, slavery, colonialism, and empire. Income inequality and structural violence of poverty are part of a half millennia of oppression. Amy Cooper recently using her whiteness to threaten African-American Christian Cooper when he asked her to put her dog on a leash, evokes the weaponizing of whiteness by the lying Carolyn Bryant in the torture and lynching of Emmett Till in 1955. The subsequent minimizing, gaslighting, deflecting, and denying by whites are part of the structure of repression that needs to be completely torn down. We need a revolution in humanist values for an environmentally sound future where racial and economic justice flourishes. We need sustained, economic commitment to building this new world.

Michael Collopy, USA:

All lives can’t matter until black lives matter!
Racism is an out of control pandemic that has infected our world community and continues to eradicate scores of people. As a result, we have lost our humanity and the recognition of what it is like to truly be human.

How can we deny our brother, our sister?
Racism, ignorance, and hatred have cut off the very airway and artery of freedom and democracy and most importantly our fellow men and women have been denied their human dignity.

Corrosive bigotry and discrimination has seeped into all corners of our society, including the ranks of some of our elected leaders who, along with their destructive and lethal policies have redirected the blame from themselves, back onto those who are the most oppressed and marginalized in our community.
Coretta Scott King told me: “Both Gandhi and my husband understood that the great advantage of non-violence is that its success does not depend on the integrity of political leaders. It depends on the courage and commitment of people of goodwill.”

We can strive to eradicate racism through a thorough and ongoing examination of self. Through an accountability of self awareness and relationship building, in addition to listening and being educated, we can aspire to live in kinship and harmony.

It is perhaps, through gentleness and kindness, tolerance and forgiveness, equipped with mindfulness and compassion that we can put back into practice love in action.

After all, the longest road anyone of us will take is from our head to our heart.

Let us strive to meet each other with dialogue and openness, creating a culture of encounter. Welcoming everyone in solidarity. This is what makes our society truly human. Uniting us not dividing us, and extinguishing all hatred and division and opening up the paths of peace.

We are all on this road together which is filled with both happiness and hardship, all intertwined at various times in our life; but that is what truly binds us together.

It is in recognizing each other’s human failings and brokenness that we realize our own brokenness.
This can actually bring us together in kinship.

We need to reach out and help each other by truly being present to each other. After all, it is not us who change those who are oppressed but those who are marginalized and suffering enacting a change in us.

We need to restore hope.

We need to reclaim our human dignity in this cruel and merciless society.
I believe in the Gandhi-King network.

I believe in a better self and a better world.
There is no time to waste.

I am reminded of the voice of Mother Teresa saying: “Yesterday is gone, tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

Michael Onyebuchi Eze – Amsterdam, The Netherlands:

The murdering of George Floyd like those of Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and so many others is a tale too familiar on cultural normalization of mutilation of black bodies and dispossession of black humanity. We denounce this violation of black subjectivity through institutionalized structures of oppression and unjust judicial systems. We revolt against the sociocultural and capitalist construction of blackness and pornography of violence associated with it. We condemn the amoral indictment of blackbodies that imposes a timeless burden of suspicion, criminalizes black subjectivity, and freezes black mobility in terms of job opportunities and spatial boundaries.

The African philosophy of ubuntu which comes from the Xhosa/Zulu saying umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (a person is a person through other people), teaches that humanity is not a quality wholly embedded only on one particular group or single individual. Humanity is a gift we all possess as human beings in relation to others. It says that “I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am.” As Desmond Tutu puts it, “differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realize our need for one another.” A thought shared by Sheikh Saadi that “all human beings are in truth akin, all in creation share one origin; when fate allots a member pangs and pain, no ease for other members then remains.” We seek for engagement and dialogue through which the black humanity is unconditionally re-presented as part of humanity. We seek for human compassion which according to Nelson Mandela is what binds us to one another, “not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”

Cheryl Jordan – Superintendent, Milpitas, CA:

George Floyd’s death, and all of the others that have occurred before his, hurts. We know there are many other stories not identifiable by race that exist. How do we respond with compassion and understanding? How do we learn and come to better understand more about the impact of history in what we see today in society? How do we build connection and deeper appreciation for our diversity and strengths? As a learning community we know that conversation without judgment enables us to realize more of what it means to be a “Culture of We.”

In the days ahead, let us be committed to listening deeply to one another. Together we can assure that our communities are places where our humanity upholds the dignity of all, and especially those of our Black brothers and sisters.

Ela Gandhi and Shanta Maharaj-Singh- Durban, South Africa:

Black lives matter.
Over the centuries white skin colour has been defined as an indicator of superiority. That perceived superiority has been linked with man’s exploitative practice. So history books are filled with stories of exploitation, cruelty, and oppression of black and brown people at the hands of white people. In many instances these were even translated into laws that stripped black people of human rights and cleared the way for uninhibited exploitation and cruelty against black people. Instances of stark inhumanity and cruelty have been recorded, revealing the brute nature of some of these perpetrators. That history still lives with us as we have seen in the cruel killing of George Floyd and others before him.

Social control and religious convictions are the only two factors that can help to curb the brute nature in these human beings imbued with the power of their perceived superiority, and believing that their self respect grows with such brutal behaviour against a “lesser” being. Gandhiji wrote in an article in the Harijan newspaper, “man’s habit of killing man on the slightest pretext has darkened his reason and he gives himself liberties with other life which he would shudder to take if he really believed that God was a God of love and mercy.”

It is when society itself becomes so depraved that it accepts such brutal behaviour as normal that we witness the kind of acts perpetrated against George Floyd and others. The fact that these human beings who are in our midst and are often carrying important, responsible positions in society, can behave with such brutality and with sheer impunity, is an indication of lack of social control. We need to name and shame people like Derek Chauvin.

Clearly we live in a sick society which has to change. The Black Lives Matter movement has given rise to the sense of indignation that people must justly feel when acts like these are committed and allowed to be committed by those who stood by and watched. Clearly there is a need to change societal thinking. We the people must begin the process of removing the prejudices the discrimination the violence and the unbridled anger from our midst and grow a compassionate peaceful society through nonviolent, merciful acts which are what renders us superior to the brute. This movement can help to change the world if it works with dignity and promotes a superior force, the force of truth and humanity-ubuntu. Gandhi Development Trust and Phoenix Settlement Trust supports nonviolent actions against the brutality we have witnessed and a programme of action to change public consciousness.
It is most disturbing that in the 21st century, such hatred still exists on grounds of colour. Melanin!!!
George Floyd’s death has ignited a need to fight for this to come to an end. Of concern to me is that presently we have the baby boomers who are in all probability the parents of millenials who are parents themselves of generation X. Racism is taught, it is not a natural inherited trait, and it comes from how a child is nurtured. Somewhere along the line, of the three generations mentioned, this lesson to hate is being passed down, and unless this is addressed across all age groups, we are not going to find any proper solution. There is much more strength in working together than in working in groups of racial isolation or any form of isolation for that matter, be it race or gender identity. There is a need for courageous conversations to take place. Conversations where people agree to disagree, and to understand that each person has the right to live in dignity, with respect and that all deserve to be treated equally in a just society.

Michael Honey Tacoma, Washington USA:

Gandhi and King recognized the struggle as intersecting all people demanding human rights. In that struggle, we resist hate with love. We seek to replace life’s cruelty systems with the beloved community. We organize through nonviolent forms of change that can bring about new structures of peace and hope without adding more violence to the world, in global efforts to end racism, sexism, poverty, and war.

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Marc Handley Andrus, San Francisco, California USA:

I’m embedding a series of statements I’ve made since the protests have begun.

The first is after President Trump made his speech in the Rose Garden, had protesters removed from Lafayette Park, and then created his photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Next, I endorsed a statement from the Northern California chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians:

And, on Juneteenth the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, of which I’m a working member, issued a global statement in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, calling attention to the global reality of eco-racism aimed at indigenous people. I helped write the statement, which has been signed on to by over 80 archbishops and bishops across the Anglican Communion, including England, Pacific Island nations, Africa, Canada, the United States and Central America.

P. P Balan, Kerala, India:

Everybody should condemn the brutality. Protests should be carried out in a peaceful manner as preached by Gandhiji. The basis of such protest might be built upon creating a general awareness of equality, fraternity and freedom. The modern world should see unity prevail against all such discrimination. It gains ground during the pandemic with the slogan, ‘we the one, we are the one’

A Message from President Kevin O’Brien and Associate Provost Margaret M. Russell Santa Clara University, USA:

In a spring already marked by the pandemic and anti-Asian violence, the recent killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky have underscored once again the tragic consequences of systemic racism and oppression faced by African-Americans and other persons of color in our country. The recordings of their deaths, as well as this week’s Central Park video, affect us in so many ways: body, mind and spirit.

As a university committed to educating for solidarity and cultivating a faith that does justice, we want to offer spaces to mourn, to express our feelings, to support each other, and to work toward a better future. Our mission in teaching, research, and learning here is so vital as we address systemic injustice, become advocates for change, and speak on behalf of those without a voice. This work continues with even more urgency in the wake of these deaths and in the midst of a pandemic that has again exposed health-care disparities in marginalized communities.

Mandar Apte, Washington DC, USA:

Racism or any social injustice will always exist until we “see the other.” Raising our human consciousness to deepen our connection with ourselves, with each other, and with the planet, and enabling people to go beyond the boundaries of caste, culture, religion, sexual preference is the only sustainable way forward for us to survive as a human species. As MLK has said, ‘Today we don’t have a choice, it is either nonviolence or nonexistence.” Those words matter, even more so today.

Gandhi Now: Blessed are the Peacemakers and Sustainers of Life, which we discussed on Friday October 23, 2020 with co-editors Alain Tschudin and Susan Russell.

Gandhi, King, and the Global Struggle for Freedom and Justice

Below is a collection of material that pertains to Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, the philosophy of nonviolence, and the global struggle for freedom and justice. 

  • “Observing Human Rights Day” (Liberation Curriculum Lesson Plan focusing on the significance of Human Rights and the actions Americans took to end apartheid in South Africa.)

Primary Sources: Historical Material and Documents

The 2019 Gandhi-King Global Initiative Conference:

The Uplift of All: Gandhi, King, and the Global Struggle for Freedom and Justice

Lectures and Discussions from the 2019 GKGI Conference:

Gandhi-King Global Network Speaker Series Zoom Recordings: