India and Black America have often been on intersecting paths, paths that have largely been ignored in the national discourses of both countries.
Example: the influence of a former Inner Temple lawyer from Gujarat upon the life and thinking of a young Black minister from Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been gripped by that story since 2006, and the resulting book will be out later this year.
But Black and Desi people share history along many dimensions, as this India Currents article demonstrates. Snippet:
…a young Black man sat down inside the British Embassy in Washington, DC, and refused to move. African American pacifist Bayard Rustin became director of the Free India Committee in 1945, working to end British rule in India. But it wasn’t enough to just talk, so Rustin began leading sit-in protests at the British Embassy, repeatedly getting arrested as he worked to help free India, two decades before he went on to organize the 1963 March on Washington, site of Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I have a dream” speech.
All of which seems appropriate to think about, the day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in this still-new year.