The Foundation for India Studies participated in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Grande Parade in Houston, Texas, for the fifth year in a row Jan. 18, a press release reported. As the winner of the prestigious 2015 Grand Marshal Award, FIS was offered a premier spot in the honors section of the parade.

FIS, represented at the parade by a dedicated group of Indian American adults and children, was committed to connecting Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy with King’s. Though the two had never met, King was inspired by Gandhi’s philosophy of peace and non-violence in his fight against racial discrimination in the U.S. Invited by the Gandhi Memorial Fund, King and his wife, Coretta Scott, visited India in 1959. King declared that he may go to other countries as a tourist, but to India he would go as a pilgrim. 

King spoke on an All India Radio broadcast when he said, “If this age is to survive, it must follow the way of love and nonviolence that Gandhi so nobly illustrated in his life.”

Upon King’s return, he wrote in Ebony magazine that his visit to India was a revelation as if “the spear of frustration had been transformed into a “shaft of light.”

In 2009, 50 years after his trip to India, Congress unanimously passed a resolution introduced by Rep. John Lewis recognizing Gandhi’s influence on King. 

Congressman Al Green declared in his speech at Hilcroft’s Mahatma Gandhi District inauguration that “there is no King without Gandhi.” The names of Gandhi and King are synonymous with peace and non-violence.

During the parade, the children thoroughly enjoyed the attention and fanfare they received from spectators. 

“It was super cool to know that everyone knew how Mahatma Gandhi and MLK Jr. were ‘related,’ said Sai Aakarsha Saridey, 12, in a press release. “I definitely want to come back next year!”

“I am thankful to be part of FIS and the MLK parade, because it taught me more about Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi,” Saureesh Aparasu, 12, stated in a press release.

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