Convening 3: Kolkata, India – Final Day. We Came As Pilgrims, We Left Inspired.
“To other countries I may go as a tourist, but to India I come as a pilgrim.” -Martin Luther King, 1959.
Early in the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King Jr. referred to Gandhi as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.” After the boycott’s success, Martin Luther King Jr. travelled to India to deepen his understanding of Gandhian principles. Through King, Gandhi’s philosophy fundamentally shaped our struggle for social justice in the United States.
With this rich history in mind, we travelled to India as pilgrims, seeking to deepen our understanding of Gandhian principles, exchange ideas with our sisters and brothers involved in the global fight for justice and equality, and return renewed and inspired to work together to strengthen our movement(s) and create real social change.
Over meals, drinks, moments in the sun and long bus rides we tried to make sense of all of these incredible experiences and what it means for our work back home. We compared and contrasted India and the U.S. to understand the implications of what we were learning for work within the U.S. and our communities. We also reflected on the current state of U.S. social justice movements and how a gendered analysis is currently being employed – and how it is not.
We pushed ourselves to engage in essential dialogues to flesh out areas of alignment and lack of alignment – particularly on those issues that are causing tension in the movement at large. Building on the trust and respect we have developed with each other, we practiced going beyond just advocating for our points of view, to deepen our collective understanding and look together for a “third way” that would move us closer to our vision of a beloved community.
In the coming weeks, cohort members will be sharing a bit of their experience in India and some major take-aways with you over this blog. In the meantime, we thought we would share a snap shot of where we all were on the last day of this trip.
As we prepared to depart we gave everyone just five minutes to capture what was sticking with them at that moment in a seven line poem which began, “I have been to India and…”
Those poems will be shared here over the next several weeks. Enjoy!
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