On my recent travels to the United States, myself and my wife were fortunate to visit a civil rights museum in Savannah, Georgia. We wanted to learn more about slavery and the struggle for equality for blacks in the South.
We listened to a tour guide describe the deplorable conditions people suffered, but we also heard inspiring stories about people who stood up against these injustices, both white and black, sometimes risking their lives. I have so much respect for the people who went against the mass opinion and followed their inner sense of duty. It is due to the inner calling and lion like hearts of these people that we progress at all.
We learnt that we were in a very special state, Savannah was one of the very first states to abolish slavery, largely due to its excellent organisation and non-violent civil resistance. Similar to the Khadi movement in India, Savannah’s ‘freedom fighters’ protested by not buying the clothes of those who did not respect their rights. This may seem very simple, but blacks make up 50% of Savannah’s population, rather than cause violence, they chose to hit them where it hurts the most, their wallets. A small but powerful method for effecting positive change.
Inspired by the methods of Mahatma Gandhi, and under the leadership of Dr.Martin Luther King, the civil rights movement, largely through non-violent methods forced their oppressors to change. Many in Savannah still feel there is a long way to go before true equality has been reached.
The trip forced me to reflect on some of the issues we currently face such as global poverty, inequality, environmental problems, womans rights, caring for the elderly, the animal rights movement, so many areas where champions give their time and energy to little by little improve the world. We should all look to the World and seek out the violent inflections which we can abolish. If Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King could open the path for the way of the heart, surely we can continue it.
I reflected on Maharaja Yudhisthira who always chose right action over pleasure. It is said that in the Kingdom of Yudhisthira, nobody goes hungry, nobody is left to suffer, that it is neither capitalism or communism but the politics of love that prevails. In contrast to that we see the conditions which the Afro-American population had to endure for over two-hundred years at the hands of their powerful white masters.
Here are some from the museum from the Ralph Mark Gilbert civil rights museum in Savannah, Georgia. I would definitely recommend a visit.