Arun Gandhi to Speak at UNA Commencement
Apr. 8, 2010
FLORENCE, Ala. – Gandhi. Few names in world history evoke such powerful images of integrity, courage, social harmony and – perhaps most of all – hope.
The University of North Alabama will host Arun Gandhi, grandson of the legendary peacemaker and spiritual leader Mohandas K. Gandhi, also known as Mahatma Gandhi, as speaker for its spring commencement ceremony next month. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. May 15 in Flowers Hall.
For Arun Gandhi, growing up in apartheid South Africa as a person of Indian heritage meant racial confrontations with both blacks and whites. As a young boy, he was beaten up by black youths for not being black and by white youths because he was not white. Filled with rage and plotting to avenge his beatings, he subscribed to Charles Atlas body building magazines so he would have the strength to fight back. When his parents discovered the reason for their 12-year-old son’s sudden fascination with exercise, they decided that a visit to his grandfather in India was in order.
What followed was an 18-month stay with one of the world’s great leaders that would give him they keys to the powerful philosophy of nonviolence and help shape the foundation for his life’s work. It was a dangerous and exciting time, as Mahatma Gandhi was leading the people of Indiain their revolutionary, nonviolent struggle for independence from British rule.
After leading successful projects for economic and social reform in India, Arun Gandhi came to the United States in 1987 to complete research for a comparative study on racism in America. In 1991, he and his late wife, Sunanda, founded the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, which is now headquartered at the University of Rochester. The institute’s mission is to foster understanding of nonviolence and how to put that philosophy to practical use through workshops, lectures and community outreach programs.
A speaker of international acclaim, Arun Gandhi has spoken before hundreds of colleges and universities and corporate and civic organizations. His unique talents and cross-cultural experiences have brought him before governmental, social and educational audiences in countries all over the world, including Brazil, Croatia, France, Ireland, Italy, Holland, Lithuania, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Nicaragua. Arun Gandhi is a cultural treasure, offering firsthand insights into one of history’s most influential leaders.