Hindu American Foundation represented at 60th anniversary of ‘I have a dream’ speech

Suhag Shukla speaking at the 60th anniversary march of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on August 26, 2023, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. PHOTO: Anang Mittal

The Executive Director of Hindu American Foundation, Suhag Shukla was among the speakers addressing the 60th anniversary march of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., held at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. August 26, 2023.

“The message of Dr. Martin Luther King is even more critical today, for us to set aside our differences and find common cause and that’s really what I tried to channel in my speech,” Shukla told News India Times.

Calling it “a really great honor,” and adding she was “Extremely happy to be part of the historic event,” Shukla said, “The struggles fought by that generation kind of opened the doors to our community. I was grateful to have such a diversity of voices there especially at a moment, when in our country, there’s a lot of polarization and people are so quick to dismiss one another on things as trivial as skin color, ideology or sexual orientation.”

Underscoring the importance of accepting our differences, Shukla added, “There’s so much more that we share as humans, as Americans, and to be able to work together on the issues that are leading to injustice, mistreatment, and inequality” are paramount.

On August 26, Shukla addressed thousands of people from across the country who had gathered to commemorate Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech, and to fight for racial and social equality.

“We’re here today to continue Dr. King’s dream. He took the first step, others followed. And now it’s our time,” while referring to Swami Vivekananda, as Hinduism’s first ambassador to America, and quoting him “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached,” Shukla said in her speech.

Shukla greeted the gathering with a “Namaste” and went on to explain the meaning of the greeting. She said, “In the Hindu tradition ‘Namaste’ isn’t a mere greeting. It’s an ancient call to action to recognize our shared humanity and an inherent divinity that unites us.”

“The darkness of injustice prevails. And just when it feels like that darkness has put out all light, the Universe sends a Messenger — great messengers like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Elie Wiesel, and countless others who inspired people around the world of all shades, beliefs, and walks of life, including my own grandfather in pre-Independence India, to march together for the cause of freedom and justice,” Shukla said. “Different leaders, different places, different times. But the message has been the same. Transcend difference, find common purpose, and stand up for justice.”

The march was organized by Dr. King’s Drum Major Institute, which was founded in 1961 with his vision of a world free of racism, poverty, and violence, and the Rev. Al Sharpton ‘s National Action Network.

Dr. King’s oldest son, Martin Luther King III told the gathering, “I’m very concerned about the direction our country is going in. And it is because instead of moving forward, it feels as if we are moving backward. The question is, what are we gonna do? Do we realize that it is ‘We the People’ who can make changes, represent history in the right way, ensure that hatred and hostility is not espoused all over our nation.”

The march also witnessed speeches from Al Sharpton and other civil rights leaders, human rights groups, and Members of Congress including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC).



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