Martin Luther King Jr. & the Start of U.S. Nonviolence

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend, I would like to share a personal interview I did with Andrew Young, which gives us a look inside the beginnings of the U.S./World Nonviolence Movement.   You can also watch a video here on Martin Luther King Jr. and the Origins of the Nonviolence Movement.

 Image  ANDREW YOUNG was Assistant to Pres. Jimmy Carter, Mayor of Atlanta. and the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.  He shared this story with me, which was filled with a lot of new information I had never ever heard before about how MARTIN LUTHER KING JR first heard about NONVIOLENCE.

            I began my interview with Andrew by asking about my long time friend, Dr. Benjamin Mayes. He was the former President of Morehouse College in Atlanta and the first African-American head of Atlanta’s School Board.

Dr. Mayes went to Gandhi’s INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION in 1947 in India. He came back and called together the best and the brightest atMorehouseCollege and said,

“Gentlemen, by no fault of your own, we’re 300 years behind. My challenge to you is can you be disciplined, courageous, and visionary enough to catch up in the next 25 years?”

Dr. Mayes was also Head of a Philosophy of Leadership Development Course that produced a generation of young men at Morehouse who were committed to making the world a better place.  This college was totally & intentionally about Leadership Development. More than giving degrees, they were interested in creating leaders in almost every field such as Medicine, Law, & Education. It’s been said that 60% of students who were trained in Leadership atMorehouseCollege went on to become the top African-American leaders in theU.S.

One of those leaders was Martin Luther King, Jr., who was at that time, a 14-year-old freshman, who heard about nonviolence for the first time.

Andrew Young said, “He became the leader not just of America, but of the world. He was a leader that showed we can make the world a better place by renouncing violence.  ‘You don’t overcome hatred with hatred. You overcome hatred with love.’

             “It was then that I was at HowardUniversity, and I heard about nonviolence, but I didn’t believe in it. My wife and Coretta Scott King, who had gone to AntiochCollege, which was a pacifist college. They challenged and pushed us to commit more seriously to nonviolence. As time went by, Andrew realized the power of nonviolence and embraced it.

“You can change the skyline of a city, the quality of test scores, but unless you make the world less hatred-filled and less violent toward each other and nature, then we are not making progress.”

When Martin Luther King died, it was Dr. Benjamin Mayes who was asked to give his Eulogy.

            You can find Andrew Young’s story and many others in the book, VISIONARIES CHANGE THE WORLD: Making Commitments and Taking Action, which takes the best from world leaders to inspire the best in all of us. It includes 82 leaders, all but four, whom I have personally interviewed.

*The book is available on my website: and on Kindle at


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