Narrated by Sean Braswell
Explore history's interlocking lives and events. Turn back the clock, one story at a time. Discover how various strands are woven together to create a historic figure, a big idea or an unthinkable tragedy. From OZY Media. History. Unwound.SUBSCRIBE NOW
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated after leading the most influential protest movement in American history. King revolutionized the use of nonviolent resistance to combat racial injustice in the United States, but the Alabama preacher did not always believe in nonviolence. In fact, early on, King relied on armed guards for his protection until an older Quaker activist named Bayard Rustin walked into King's home and changed the direction of the civil rights movement.
The seasoned activist and Quaker Bayard Rustin was King's mentor in nonviolence and the organizing genius behind the March on Washington in 1963. Many felt that Rustin was on his way to becoming the "American Gandhi." There was just one problem: Rustin was gay, and as a result, would be forced to the sidelines of the civil rights struggle, and to the margins of American history.
The Indian lawyer and activist Mohandas Gandhi was the first leader to take up the age-old doctrines of love and nonviolence and transform them into tools of political and social resistance. In doing so, he would inspire Bayard Rustin and other activists across the world. Armed only with love, humility and disobedience, Gandhi brought the most powerful empire on earth to the bargaining table — and eventually to its knees.