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Civil Rights Movement Essay

Gandhi was an Indian civil rights leader. Throughout life he was misunderstood, defied in death and was taken to the point of error. Gandhi took down the British Empire, he improved the governments of the three nations, and he imbued the spirits of a global network of neo-Gandhians, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. If anyone could be described as the most adequate civil rights movement leader of the 20th century, it would be Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869 and died January 30, 1948. Mohandas Gandhi was the last child of his father and his father’s fourth wife. In his youth years Gandhi was shy, he always spoke in a soft or gentle voice, and wasn’t a neither good nor bad student in school. Although he was an obedient child, one time Gandhi tried eating meat, smoking, and stole a little, which he later regretted.

When Gandhi was 13, he married a girl named Kasturba in an arranged marriage. Kasturba and Gandhi had four sons and she supported Gandhi’s endeavors until her death in 1944. When Gandhi was 23 years old he set-off for South Africa once again, he arrived in British governed Natal in May 1893. Though Gandhi was hoping to earn a little bit of money and gain more knowledge about law, it was in South Africa that Gandhi changed from being a very quiet and shy man to a dedicated leader against discrimination. The beginning of this change happened while he was on a business trip that was taken a little while after he arrived in South Africa. Gandhi was in South Africa for about a week when he was asked to take the long trip from Natal to Transvaal, the province of South Africa for his case.

It was supposed to be a several day trip, including transportation by train and by stagecoach. When Gandhi went on the first train of his journey at the Pietermartizburg station, railroad officials told Gandhi that he needed to move to the third-class passenger car. When Gandhi refused to move because he was holding first-class passenger tickets, a policeman came and threw him off the train. That wasn’t the end of the unfair treatment that Gandhi suffered on this trip. Gandhi wen and talked to the other Indians in South Africa. He found out that his experiences with the policemen were not rare mistakes, but instead these types of problems were common. During that first night of his trip, he sat in the cold outside of the railroad station after being thrown off the train, Gandhi debated whether he should go back home to India or fight the discrimination for all people.

After thinking it through, Gandhi decided that he could not let the discrimination continue and that he was going to fight so that he could change the discrimination in South Africa forever. Gandhi spent the next twenty years working on improving Indians’ rights in South Africa. During the first three years, Gandhi learned more about Indian complaints that were made, studied the law, wrote letters to officials, and organized petitions. On May 22, 1894, Gandhi created the Natal Indian Congress (NIC). The NIC started as an organization for rich Indians, Gandhi worked hard and long to expand its membership to all classes and people who were in a high position. Gandhi became known for his activism. His acts were covered by newspapers in England and India. In a few short years, Gandhi had become a leader of the Indian community in South Africa. In 1896, after living three years in South Africa, Gandhi took a trip to India with the intention of bringing his wife and two sons back with him.

In India, there was a deadly plague outbreak. Since back then they believed that poor health and hygiene were the cause of the plagues, Gandhi offered to help search for toilets, especially ones on a military base and offer suggestions for better supplies. Others were willing to search the toilets of the wealthy; Gandhi personally searched the toilets of the untouchables as well as the rich. He found that it was the wealthy that had the worst hygiene and health problems. After spending twenty years in South Africa helping fight discrimination, Gandhi finally decided it was time to head back home to India on July 1914. When World War I broke out during his journey, Gandhi decided to stay and help by forming another ambulance corps of Indians to help the British. As World War I reached its finale, it was time for Gandhi to focus on the fight for Indian politics. In 1919, the British gave Gandhi something worth fighting for – the Rowlett Act.

This Act gave the British in India nearly no restrictions to root out revolutionary elements and to restrain them for sure without trial. In addition to this Act, Gandhi organized a huge protest, which began on March 30, 1919. Even though Gandhi called off the protest, once he heard about the violence, over 300 Indians had died and over 1,100 were injured from British war in the city of Amritsar. The violence that formed from the protest showed Gandhi that the people didn’t fully believe in the power of Satyagraha. On March 1922, Gandhi was jailed for rebellion and was sentenced to six years in prison. After two years, Gandhi was released due to illness and needed surgery to treat his appendicitis. Upon his release, Gandhi found his country mixed up in violent attacks between Muslims and Hindus. As self-punishment for the violence, Gandhi began a 21-day fast, known as the Great Fast of 1924. Still ill from his recent surgery, many people thought he would die on day twelve, but he pulled through.

The fast created a temporary peace treaty. Also during this decade, Gandhi began giving support as a way to gain freedom from the British. Unfortunately, not everyone was too happy with this peace plan. There were a few basic Hindu groups who believed that India should never have been divided. They blamed Gandhi for the separation. On January 30, 1948, the 78year old Gandhi spent his last day like all the other days. The majority of the day was spent debating problems with numerous groups and individuals.

A few minutes past 5 p.m., when it was time for the prayer meeting, Gandhi started the walk to Birla House. A crowd had surrounded him while he walked; he was helped by two of his grandnieces. In front of him, a young Hindu boy named Nathuram Godse stopped before to greet him by bowing. Gandhi bowed back. Then Godse rushed forward with a gun and shot Gandhi three times with a black, semi-automatic pistol. Although Gandhi had survived five other assassination attempts, this time, Gandhi fell to the ground, dead.


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