Today's Beautiful Gem: `Stride toward Freedom'
by Martin Luther King Jr.
"The Day of Days, December 5: My wife and I awoke earlier than usual
on Monday morning. We were up and fully dressed by five-thirty.
The day for the protest had arrived, and we were determined to see
the first act of unfolding drama. I was still saying that if we
could get 60% cooperation the venture would be a success.
"Fortunately, a bus stop was just five feet from our house. This
meant that we could observe the opening stages from our front window.
The first bus was to pass around six o'clock. And so we waited
through an interminable half hour. I was in the kitchen drinking
coffee when I heard Coretta cry, `Martin, Martin, come quickly!'
I put down my cup and ran toward the living room. As I approached
the front window Coretta pointed joyfully to a slowly moving bus:
`Darling, it's empty!' I could hardly believe what I saw. I knew
that the South Jackson line, which ran past our house, carried more
Negro passengers than any other line in Montgomery, and that this
first bus was usually filled with domestic workers going to their
jobs. Would all of the other buses follow the pattern that had been
set by the first? Eagerly we waited for the next bus. In fifteen
minutes it rolled down the street, and like the first, it was empty.
A third bus appeared, and it too was empty of all but two white
"I jumped in my car and for almost an hour I cruised down every major
street and examined every passing bus. During this hour, at the peak
of morning traffic, I saw no more than eight Negro passengers riding
the buses. By this time I was jubiliant. Instead of the 60%
cooperation we had hoped for, it was becoming apparent that we had
reached almost 100%. A miracle had taken place. The once dormant
and quiescent Negro community was now fully awake."
Note: Jan 15 is the birth anniversary of M.L. King Jr., this country's
well-known civil rights leader. The above passage is taken from his
book `Stride Toward Freedom'. When I was in Atlanta, I had the
privilege of visiting the memorial to the slain leader. In the main
hall, there is a mural of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Even though they never met in person, the spirit of the Mahatma
pervaded King's philosophy of nonviolence and passive resistance.
Later, when I was on a nearby street an Afro-American gentleman
stopped me and asked me whether I am from India and I nodded. He
told me: `We owe a lot to your country and Gandhi for his nonviolent
methods which Martin followed. We are what we are to-day because of
that. The blacks in America are very grateful for that.' After some
more talk, we parted. On that day, June 25 to be exact, I felt
really proud to be an Indian!
Om Saantih! Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao