FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Clarksdale, Mississippi Pays Homage to Mahatma Gandhi and His Message of Truth and Nonviolence
Consul General of India, Atlanta to Unveil and Dedicate Bronze Bust of Gandhi
Clarksdale, Mississippi — The front lawn of the Coahoma County courthouse in Clarksdale, Mississippi will serve as the location and home of a large bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi, the man who courageously led India to its independence 75 years ago, and whose teachings have influenced many world leaders and intellectual thinkers, including Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Congressman John Lewis, Steve Jobs, and several others.
The bronze bust is a gift to the city of Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Coahoma County from the Indian Council for Cultural Affairs and the Consulate General of India, Atlanta, and will be presented in a ceremony on Friday October 8, at 10 a.m. CDT / 11 a.m. EDT / 8 a.m. PDT by Consul General Dr. Swati Kulkarni to city, county, and state officials. The ceremony takes place the week of Gandhi’s birthday and during the celebratory 75th anniversary year of India’s founding as the world’s largest democracy.
“Gandhi-ji is an extraordinary inspirational force across the world. His most important legacy is his technique of non-violent moral activism and his principles of courage, truth, and religious tolerance,” said Consul General of India, Atlanta, Dr. Kulkarni, referring to Gandhi with deference. “His principles provided an impetus for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who followed his operational techniques. Mahatma Gandhi led India’s epic freedom struggle against colonialism and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led America’s epic struggle against racism. Both Mahatma Gandhiji and Dr. Martin Luther King will continue to inspire generations through their life and the values they stood for.”
The bust, commissioned and supplied by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations under the aegis of the Government of India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, was designed by the famous Indian sculptor Ram Sutar.
The event, which is open to the public, is sponsored by the Crossroads Economic Partnership, a collaboration of the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Authority of Coahoma County; PeopleShores, a social enterprise; and Indiaspora, a nonprofit organization of global Indian diaspora leaders.
Clarksdale and Coahoma County are located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta region, near the Mississippi River. While the region has suffered depopulation and loss of jobs in recent decades, an influx of new industry, job opportunities, and people during the past four years have begun to reverse the community’s fortunes.
The Indian American community has played a significant role in that progress. Jon Levingston, executive director of the Crossroads Economic Partnership, said, “Having recruited PeopleShores to Clarksdale, which was founded by Indian American Murali Vullaganti, I have seen firsthand their commitment to training their employees not only with technical skills, but most importantly, essential life skills. Their care and thoughtfulness in providing employees new educational and job opportunities are helping to break the generational cycles of poverty that have gripped our region for decades. There is also a fully staffed medical clinic in the PeopleShores building to address without charge the healthcare needs of those citizens who have no health insurance. Their leadership in this endeavor and their embodiment of the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi makes this gift even more meaningful and resonant for us.”
“Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings and principles continue to be a guiding light now as much as ever. This is especially relevant today when we are grappling with uncertainty in the face of a global pandemic, as well as a new social awakening in the U.S.,” said MR Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora. “We are delighted to be engaged in this community-wide effort. We hope the Indian diaspora can continue to serve as a force for good, as a bridge between countries, and as global ambassadors for Gandhi’s message. Our hope is that his legacy is a reminder of what is possible.”
Clarksdale Mayor Chuck Espy, speaking about the gift said, “We are humbled by this most generous gift. Gandhi was among the most courageous and spiritual of men. He led his nation to freedom not with guns but with simplicity, determination, truth, and nonviolence. His efforts inspired the world, including the leaders of our own nation’s Civil Rights Movement, such as Dr. King and the late Congressman John Lewis.”
Coahoma County Board of Supervisors president, Johnny Newson observed, “Gandhi was a transformational leader. He embodied the virtues of tolerance and respect. He showed the world that change can be made without violence and changed the course of a nation forever. We welcome and are grateful for the opportunity to strengthen our bonds of friendship with the Indian American community as well as our brothers and sisters in India.”
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Crossroads Economic Partnership (www.crossroadseconomicpartnership.com) is a collaboration of the area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Authority of Coahoma County. It is tasked with recruiting and retaining industry for Clarksdale and Coahoma County. It has successfully advanced a variety of economic development projects during the past four years creating numerous new job opportunities for families in the north Delta region.
PeopleShores (PeopleShores.com) is a for-profit social enterprise that brings technology-driven jobs to the “shores” of economically challenged communities in the United States.
Indiaspora (indiaspora.org) is a nonprofit network of global Indian origin leaders from diverse backgrounds and professions who are committed to inspiring the diaspora to be a force for good by providing a platform to collaborate, build community engagement, and catalyze social change.
Executive Director, Crossroads Economic Partnership