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King's Birth Anniversary Celebrated in Saint Louis

The Gandhi Foundation of USA, a non profit organization championing the cause non-violence headquartered in Atlanta, was invited to present a keynote address at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Celebration in the St. Louis Museum Auditorium organized by Saint Louis Art Museum, Saturday, January 14, 2006 at 7pm. Representing Gandhi Foundation at the celebrations was Subash Razdan, Acting Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation. 

The program started promptly at 7pm with a welcome by Ms. Renee Franklin, Head of Community & School Programs for the Saint Louis Art Museum followed by a Tribute in photography "Peaceful-Not Passive-Resistance" which showcased both Gandhi and King in documentary and in photographs. The next item included three divine dances " Liturgical Leaders In Motion Sacred Dance Ministry" presented by St. Alphonsus Rock Church.

In his Keynote Address, Subash Razdan, a 2003 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient, described the extent of influence of Mahatma Gandhi on Dr. King and the consequent good to the world, especially to African Americans and other ethnic communities of USA. Razdan explained how the message of non violence of Gandhi was received in 1934 by Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, Principal of Morehouse College (Atlanta), during Mays trip to India. The torch of Gandhi's message was then passed from Dr. Mays to, then a 15 year old student of Morehouse, Martin Luther King Jr. So great was the influence of Gandhi that in 1959, Dr. King and his wife Coretta Scott King spent a month in India studying Gandhi's techniques of non-violence as guests of then Prime Minister Nehru. Dr. King came back to USA and started giving frequent sermons on the life of Gandhi.

Razdan then went on to explain the myriad of similarities between Gandhi and King, "Both loved and were loved by the masses, both identified with the poor and the exploited and both sacrificed their lives for removing injustice". Razdan concluded saying, "Gandhi's torch was kept burning in the USA by Dr. King's Civil Rights Movement, and, today, it is we who must carry on the torch and keep it ever lifted up, that it may be passed on to future generations".

The celebrations included Indian folk and classical dances choreographed by Asha Prem. The grand finale was the scintillating performances by the Mass Choir of the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church, bringing the packed auditorium on toes at the singing of the Civil Rights anthem, "We Shall Overcome" in the electrified atmosphere of the scenic surrounding of the Saint Louis Art Museum in Saint Louis, Missouri.

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