If I Can Dream: Gandhi, Elvis Share Vision

By: Michael Donahue
Source: The Commercial Appeal
August 5, 2003

Mohandas Gandhi and Elvis Presley were alike in at least one way, said Lalit Mansingh, India's ambassador to the United States: They cared about children.

The ambassador was the special guest at the Gandhi Exhibit Inaugural Gala presented by the Indian Community Fund for Greater Memphis Friday night at Woodland Hills. The dinner followed an inauguration ceremony for the exhibit at the National Civil Rights Museum. The exhibit was installed in April for the 35th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's death.

During his speech before dinner, the ambassador concluded with some words "from the most famous son of Memphis, Elvis Presley."

He quoted Elvis: "I figure all any kids need is hope and the feeling that he or she belongs. If I could do or say anything that would give some kid that feeling, I would believe I had contributed something to the world."

The ambassador said, "It is difficult to imagine two more dissimilar personalities than Elvis Presley and Mahatma Gandhi. And yet the words of Elvis Presley are strangely close to Gandhi's thinking when he said that he dreamt of an India where he would be able to wipe the last tears of the last child."

The ambassador said he was impressed with the National Civil Rights Museum. "I was expecting to feel his (King's) presence and I did when I to the museum."

Yash Chopra, one of the guests, said the Gandhi exhibit was something of which Memphis's Indian community could be proud. And it "sends a message of nonviolence in a city where it is much needed."

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