Sample Essay Paper on Mahatma Gandhi vs. Martin Luther King jr

Mahatma Gandhi vs. Martin Luther King jr

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was one of the foremost anti-war activists of the 20th Century. He was born in 1869, in India. He first studied law and became a barrister by profession. Accordingly, Mahatma advocated for the rights of oppressed Indians. Besides his profession as a barrister, Gandhi also doubled as the head of India’s Independence Movement. In his capacity as the leader of this organization, Mahatma was instrumental in organizing civil disobedience boycotts that were directed at British Institutions. Mahatma later moved to South Africa where he fought for the rights of Indians for nearly two decades. He is widely recognized for having started the philosophy of non-violent resistance. Gandhi was also a political and spiritual leader. Between 1919 and 1924, he was in jail for leading various civil disobedience campaigns and on grounds of conspiracy.

Gandhi also led 320 km march to collect sea salt. This peaceful protest was meant to act as a form of silent defiance of the government’s monopoly. He was subsequently jailed and upon his release in 1931, Gandhi Round Table Conference held in London to fast track India’s constitutional reforms. He also engaged the Cabinet Mission in negotiations aimed at facilitating a new constitutional structure. After India gained her independence in1947, Mahatma Gandhi endeavoured to put to an end the Muslim-Hindu conflict taking place in Bengal. This intervention would however cost his life. He was killed by a Hindu fanatic in 30th January 1948.

In life as in death, Gandhi remained committed to non-violence. He was also an astute believer in simple living, including what he ate and how he dressed. He also constantly fasted as a form of self-purification. His legacy of non-violent protest, self-purification and simplicity have been of immense motivation to millions of marginalised individuals across the globe.

A number of controversial claims have been levelled against Mahatma Gandhi. For example, questions have been raised regarding his sexual orientation, with a number of sources claiming that he was sexually involved with a body builder in South Africa. There are also claims of a controversial letter that Mahatma Gandhi sent Hitler in which he is seen to have commended his devotion for his country. He, nonetheless, does not appear to condemn Hitler’s henious crime of killing the Jews.

Regardless of these controversies, there is a lot that we can learn from Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy.  To start with, he teaches us that we do not have to resort to violence in order to win freedom. He played a key role in helping India attain her independence, and yet he never resorted to violence. Mahatma Gandhi has also taught on the importance of humility. He lived a simple but productive life. Mahatma Gandhi was also in a position to enjoy all forms of luxuries in life but instead, he chose to sacrifice these luxuries in favour of a simple life.  We can also learn how to be selfless from Mahatma Gandhi’s life. He gave up his successful career as a renowned barrister so that he could dedicate more time to assisting the many Indians being oppressed both in his native India and in South Africa.  Gandhi has also taught us that it means to lead by example. Before he went about changing the world, he first started by changing himself in order to accommodate the world.

Martin-Luther King jr 

Martin Luther King jr was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929. He was both a civil rights movement leader and a Baptist minister. He joined public school at the age of 5 years and was baptised in 1936, aged 7. Martin Luther king attended Booker T. High School. In 1944, he enrolled at Morehouse College in Atlanta and later graduated with a degree in sociology.  Though King came from a deeply religious family, he constantly questioned religion and the very act of religious worship. King later joined Crozer Theological Seminary and Boston University where he earned his  doctorate in 1955.

Dr. King was elected to lead the Montgomery bus boycott on account of his professional standing and solid family connections. He was also well-trained and young. The bus boycott culminated in 382 days of violence, intimidation, and harassment for the African American community. As part of the boycott, the African-Americans chose to walk to work during these 382 days. Ultimately, the city of Montgomery yielded to the pressure and was complied to scrap the segregation law. Following the success of the Montgomery bus boycott, King and 60 other civil rights activists and ministers founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The organisation was aimed at organizing and harnessing the moral authority of the power possessed by black churches.

King was deeply inspired by Gandhi’s non-violent activism. He would later on implement this non-violent activism in Greensboro, North Carolina where groups of African-American students had organized what was known as “sit-in” movements. In 1960, Dr. King went back to Atlanta where he joined his father as co-pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. However, he did not abandon his civil rights efforts. In 1963, King was jailed after he had helped organize a demonstration in Alabama. Later that year, at the Lincoln Memorial, he delivered the “ I Have a Dream” speech. Over 200,000  people witnessed Dr. King deliver the historic speech. Between 1965 and 1967, the Civil Rights Movement expanded to various large cities in America, such as Los Angeles and Chicago. Dr. King was killed by a snipper bullet on April 4, 1968. His life left an indelible in-print on race relations not just in the United States, but across the globe. He is undoubtedly the most popular African-American leader in living memory.

However, his life was not without controversy. FBI files released in the 1970s under the Freedom of Information Act showed that Dr. King was under the surveillance of the government for possible communist influences and involvement in various adulterous relationships. Various studies conducted over the years have also portrayed Dr. King as a flawed, fallible and complex individual, as well as visionary who was highly committed to non-violent means of attaining social justice.

There are numerous lessons that we can draw from the life of Martin Luther King. First, is the importance of being of service to others, as opposed to waiting for them to serve us. Dr. King was always committed to doing something for the community in order to uplift their well-being, especially the oppressed. Secondly, Dr. King has taught us the need to undertake whatever we set our minds on doing with a lot of passion, and that we do not have to resort to violence in order to put across our grievances. In his later years, Martin Luther King practised non-violent protests, a philosophy that he borrowed from Mahatma Gandhi.