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Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) was influenced by many different people, such as his father who instilled in him religious beliefs, and by the peaceful teachings of Gandhi. The following quotes describe people and experiences that affected MLK. As of now, they are all taken from The Believer in the Social Gospel and Nonviolence, an essay by Brother Anthony Dinh O.P. (Nov.3, 1994).

  • Gandhi
    "Since King believed that oppressed people have a moral obligation to resist any system that refuses to treat them as persons, he believed it necessary to expose and denounce any type of response by the oppressed that would ignore this duty to resist or even would resort to immoral forms of resistance. King chose, therefore, to pattern his crusades after Gandhi's."

    "Gandhi derived his doctrine of nonviolence from the ancient Hindu writings and found confirmation for this doctrine especially in Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim sources. In the Hindu Laws of Manu it commands, 'Let him patiently hear hard words. Let him not insult anybody. Against an angry man let him not in return show anger. Let him bless when he is cursed' ".

  • Youth experiences
    "At about age six, MLK had an experience that profoundly affected his attitudes toward white people. When a white playmate he had known for three years entered Atlanta's segregated school system, his friend's father told his son that he could no longer play with Martin, Jr. 'I never will forget what a great shock this was to me,' MLK later recalled. He discussed the matter with his parents over dinner and realizing for the first time the existence of a race problem. His parents told him of the tragedies of racism and recounted some of the insults they themselves had confronted."

    "In September 1944, King began his studies at Morehouse College where Benjamin E. Mays had been the president from 1940.... Mays inspired a generation of Morehouse students by stressing intellectual excellence, religious piety, and commitment to racial advancement. King later described Mays as one of the great influences in his life. King's growing awareness of social and political issues is evident in his writing to the Atlanta Constitution in the summer before his junior year :'We want and are entitled to the basic rights and opportunities of American citizens.' "