Gandhi’s Influence on Dr. James Farmer

A statue of James Farmer on the University of Mary Washington campus. (Flickr/Caitlin Murphy)

The legacy of Mahatma Gandhi goes well beyond the Indian Freedom Struggle. He has influenced countless movements and struggles for freedom and democracy around the world, decolonization struggles, including the civil rights movement within the United States.

We speak with P. Anand Rao who is a professor of Communications and Digital Studies at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I reached out to Rao to see if he could talk to us a little bit about what research he’s done into this connection between Gandhi and the civil rights movement. And also, how it ties into the legacy of James Farmer.

I also happen to be an alum of Mary Washington. So, I was very excited to find on a listserv that I’m a part of,, that a professor from Mary Washington wrote a piece for his local newspaper about the influence of Gandhi on the civil rights movement.

As I started to reflect back, I remembered there was a statue right across from the building where I studied philosophy (the Classics, Philosophy and Religion department) of a great Civil Rights leader, James Farmer. And I thought, “Well, maybe it isn’t unlikely that a professor from Mary Washington would be speaking about the civil rights movement and Gandhi, given that there’s actually a deep legacy between the University of Mary Washington and the civil rights leader, James Farmer.

Read the transcript at Waging Nonviolence.

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