- January 17, 2022
Celebrating MLK Jr. Day 2022
As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today in 2022, we are excited to share a connection to MIT that illustrates the global nature of the institution throughout history. Through the MIT South Asian Oral History Project, we discovered two MIT alumni from India who took a momentous road trip in the early 1960’s during the height of the Civil Rights Movement with the purpose of seeing the United States and learning about the movement in the South. Jaswant Krishnayya and Ahmed Meer spent their summer touring through the Berkshires to the southern tail of the Appalachian Mountains, making notable stops in Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Tuskegee, Montgomery, Gulfport, and New Orleans. During their tour, they formed close relationships with student activists in the South who educated, guided, and supported them throughout their travels.
In Atlanta, Krishnayya and Meer attended and participated in the first Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) training course at Morehouse College. It was there where they met Dr. and Mrs. King, who addressed the group and took a photo with the two outside.
Krishnayya had previously heard Dr. King speak at Boston College and recalled the excitement about meeting him in person. The trainers for the SNCC course were Acharya Kripalani, who long ago had been a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, and Mrs. Sucheta Kripalani, the previous Chief Minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh. About Acharya Kripalani and Mrs. Sucheta Kripalani, Krishnayya said, “They were giving living evidence of what it meant to be a non-violent activist in a large movement.”
After the workshop, the two students met with the editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who presented an overview of the Civil Rights Movement from his viewpoint. Krishnayya and Meer returned to Boston grateful for their opportunity to speak with a variety of individuals who had differing opinions and with an understanding of the Civil Rights Movement from a non-U.S. perspective.