Gandhi Alliance for Peace Champions Sustainable Change

Statue of Mahatma Gandhi on Belgrave Road in London (Courtesy

By Palak Jayswal, Arts Editor

On the last Sunday of September, under the drizzling rain, a sense of tranquility encapsulated the Chase Mill in Liberty Park’s Tracy Aviary. While the weather contributed to the mood, the man honored by this gathering set the tone. The Gandhi Alliance for Peace is celebrating the 150th birthday of a historic leader, civil rights advocate and champion of peace.

The first of two events to honor Mahatma Gandhi were calm and something the man himself would have approved of. After a welcome from the President of the Alliance, Deb Sawyer, a series of moving performances and speeches were given in honor of Gandhi. Serhat Kariparduc recited an Islamic call to prayer. Suba Praveen’s Classical Children’s Group sang several bhajans (traditional songs) for Gandhi, including a Hindi version of the Civil Rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.” Vaughn Lovejoy, who has been in charge of planting the trees every year for the commemoratory birthday function, spoke briefly before introducing Divya School of Dance, that performed two classical Indian dances in honor of Gandhi. Finally, the 2019 Gandhi Peace Award was presented to the Utah Poor People’s Campaign from board member Neale R. Neelameggham.

Poster Courtesy of Gandhi Alliance For Peace
(Poster Courtesy of Gandhi Alliance For Peace)

Billy Palmer, Franque Michele Bains and River Jude August humbly accepted the award, taking care to thank the Gandhi Alliance for Peace and educating the crowd on the rise of the Poor People’s Campaign across the nation. Originally launched in Nov. 1967 by Martin Luther King Jr. to advocate for economic justice for the lower class, this movement continues to push forward with a more focused goal. “We are actively building this campaign and like any campaign, we want it to be sustainable,” said August. Often times, a social movement or cause amounts to attending a single event or rally, but doesn’t bring sustainable change. There needs to be a commitment to work together for a greater good, much like Gandhi and King taught. “This particular movement acknowledges the intersections of oppression and the goal of this movement is to bring everyone together,” August said. 

Following the acceptance, the attendees all gathered outside in Tracy Aviary around the tree which will be planted in Gandhi’s legacy. Due to muddy conditions, they held off on the actual planting, but nonetheless, a prayer was shared in Gandhi’s honor. The 150th birthday of a man who cherished and lived by nonviolence is not only refreshing in our age but a true test of time. Movements like March for Our Lives (a previous winner of the Peace award) and Utah Poor People’s Campaign personify the ideas and values Gandhi cherished. More than that, though, they serve as a reminder that true, everlasting change is not sustainable without a supportive community, patience and die-hard belief.

The Gandhi Alliance for Peace will be holding one more event to celebrate Gandhi’s birthday on Oct. 2 at the Salt Lake City Public Library. A film followed by a Q&A with the director will be presented at 7 p.m. To learn more about the Gandhi Alliance for Peace and Utah Poor People’s Campaign, visit their websites. 


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