Learn about a civil rights leader who changed a nation by using peaceful protests to gain equal rights for the people of India. See how Mahatma Gandhi, better known as Gandhi, dedicated his life to improving the life of others.
Who Was Gandhi?
Have you ever been treated unfairly? What did you do about it? When Gandhi and other Indian citizens were treated unfairly, he didn't just sit back and take it. He used peaceful protests to make a change. Let's take a closer look at Mahatma Gandhi, who was a revolutionary leader in India. We'll examine his life, his place in Indian history, and how he managed to lead a peaceful revolution against the British Empire in the mid-20th century and make his own country free.
Gandhi's Early Life
In 1869, Mahatma Gandhi was born in India into a wealthy family. His parents arranged for him to be married at the young age of 13. At the age of 19, Gandhi followed his parents' wishes and went to college in England to study law.
After graduating with his law degree, Gandhi eventually became a lawyer in South Africa. This path led this unforgettable man to become one of the most celebrated civil rights leaders in history.
While in South Africa, Gandhi experienced prejudice firsthand. Prejudice is when you're treated unfairly because you're seen as different. South African people, who were mostly white, treated Indians differently because they had darker skin. The South Africans thought they were better than the Indians. Gandhi didn't think this was all that fair.
When Gandhi returned home, he realized Indians were not only treated differently in South Africa, but were also treated differently in India. This was when he decided to do something about this injustice.
Gandhi's Civil Rights Work
Gandhi dedicated his life to fight for equal treatment of Indians through the use of peaceful disobedience campaigns. This means that Gandhi and his followers would refuse to follow certain laws and rules the government made. By using these types of protest, Gandhi was able to change the rules in India that impacted poverty, women's rights, and religious freedom. Although he was successful in changing some laws, Gandhi did have consequences for his actions. He was arrested many times for his protests.
One of Gandhi's most famous protests is called the Salt March. The British Empire decided to make a rule that the citizens of India could not get salt anywhere except from the government. Then they decided to charge a lot of money for it. Salt was a very important ingredient to the people of India. Gandhi protested this by walking over 240 miles, across the country, to the sea to collect his own salt. Many Indian people marched alongside Gandhi to stand up against the new rule.
Gandhi also protested the Indian Constitution. This Constitution separated the Indian people into different groups based on how much money they had. The type of rights the people received were based on the group they were in. Gandhi didn't believe this was fair and protested by fasting. This means he would refuse to eat. Eventually, the British government agreed to change this part of the Constitution.
Mahatma Gandhi died in 1948, but he will never be forgotten. This extraordinary man was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times. His birthday is a national holiday in India. Many great civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, looked up to Mahatma Gandhi.
Let's take a few moments to review what we've learned. Mahatma Gandhi was a civil rights leader and revolutionary in India who will forever be remembered for his contribution to the rights of the people of India. He used peaceful protests to change the lives of people in India by fighting things like prejudice, which is when you're treated unfairly because you're seen as different. His forms of protest included peaceful disobedience campaigns, which meant that Gandhi and his followers would refuse to follow certain laws and rules the government made, and fasting, which meant that Gandhi refused to eat. Because of his influence on other civil rights leaders, he also had an impact on the lives of millions of people around the world.