Martin Luther King Jr. sites across the globe

August 23, 2011

Here is a list of places, in some of the more unlikely countries, that honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who at 35 was the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. (Read more: King’s impact around the world)

1. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Church in Debrecen, Hungary

Significance: King’s father, Martin Luther King Sr., visited Eastern Europe in 1978 to unveil a large bust of his son in Debrecen, in front of a historic church named for the younger King. Debrecen is the second-largest city in Hungary after Budapest. During World War II, 50 percent of the city’s b uildings were destroyed, making King’s message of nonviolence even more powerful.

2. The King-Luthuli Transformation Center in Johannesburg

Significance: The center was founded in 1987 “to promote the culture of learning in a country where, for 20 years, young people have called for ‘liberation before education.’ ”

The center also has worked with the King Center in Atlanta to help teach a nonviolence voter curriculum so South African citizens could use King’s techniques and avoid the bloodshed experienced during other African elections. The center is also named after South African Albert Luthuli, who was awarded the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the nonviolent struggle against apartheid. He was the first African to receive the award.

3. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Forest in Israel’s southern Galilee region and the Coretta Scott King Forest in Biriya Forest, Israel

Significance: The forest highlights Jewish organizations that were at the forefront of the American civil rights movement. People mentioned include Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, who, with James Chaney, were killed in 1964 in Mississippi during a volunteer effort to register black voters.

A second forest in northern Israel was named for Coretta Scott King after the summer of 2006, when rockets launched into the forest by Hezbollah destroyed an estimated 2 million trees. The Kings often spoke about fighting anti-Semitism.

4. Martin Luther King Jr. School in Accra, Ghana

Significance: King and his wife attended the Ghana independence ceremonies on March 6, 1957. Ghana was the first sub-Saharan colonial African country to gain independence. King’s trip widened his commitment to forming an international struggle for oppressed people, and it came a couple of years after the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala.

Ghana has also been a largely peaceful country partially surrounded by nations enveloped in conflict. 5. The Gandhi-King Plaza, a garden, at the India International Center in New Delhi

Significance: Mohandas ­Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolent resistance to free India from more than 200 years of British rule influenced how King helped shape the U.S. civil rights movement.

Gandhi’s fight for dignity began when he was thrown off a train in South Africa for not being white. Inspired by Gandhi’s use of nonviolent civil disobedience, King in February 1959 visited India, 11 years after Gandhi was assassinated. King said he returned more committed than ever to a peaceful rights struggle. In a radio address made in India, King spoke about the need for peace over war.

“We must come to see in the world today that what he [Gandhi] taught, and his method throughout, reveals to us that there is an alternative to violence, and that if we fail to follow this we will perish in our individual and in our collective lives. For in a day when Sputniks and explorers dash through outer space and guided ballistic missiles are carving highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can win a war. Today we no longer have a choice between violence and nonviolence; it is either nonviolence, or nonexistence.”

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Read more: King’s impact around the world

Full Coverage: King memorial unveiled, photos, videos, events, more

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