You’ve probably heard the saying “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Crazy-inspiring, right?!) Well, civil rights leader Mohandas Gandhi was the one to say these wise words.
Affectionately known as Mahatma, or “bapu,” (father) he was the leader of India's independence movement in the 1930s and 40s. Gandhi is famous for taking on the British colonialists with inspiring speeches and non-violent protest. He changed the world, and his influence continues today. Here are 6 facts about Gandhi.
- He spent 20 years in South Africa working to fight discrimination. It was there that he developed his concept of satyagraha. aka a non-violent way of protesting against injustices.
- In India, Gandhi led an initiative to clean up the area where he was from. He helped build new schools and hospitals. Eventually he was arrested by British-appointed landlords for causing unrest, but talked his way out of jail and negotiated better conditions for impoverished Indian farmers.
- Gandhi helped end British rule of India. Gandhi's non-cooperation movement, which began in the early 1920s, called for Indians to boycott British goods and traditions and become self-sufficient.
- In what would come to be seen as his most famous protest, in 1930 Gandhi led thousands of Indians on a 250-mile march to a coastal town to produce salt, on which the British had a monopoly.
- Gandhi helped bring about India’s independence. India finally gained full independence in 1947 when Gandhi was 78. Although some historians argue that independence was inevitable with Britain's economic downfall after World War II, most agree that it would not have happened without Gandhi.
- Gandhi inspired future civil rights leaders. Martin Luther King Jr. is said to be have been influenced by Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence, considering it to be the only reasonable approach to the problem of race relations in America.