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MLK, Jr.’s Historic Trip to Ghana

Stanford University | The MLK, Jr. Research and Education Institute   in  ·
January 19, 2015

In March 1957, Martin Luther King, Jr., and his wife Coretta Scott King traveled to West Africa to attend Ghana’s independence ceremony.  King’s voyage was symbolic of a growing global alliance of oppressed peoples and was strategically well timed; his attendance represented an attempt to broaden the scope of the civil rights struggle in the United States on the heels of the successful Montgomery bus boycott. King identified with Ghana’s struggle; furthermore, he recognized a strong parallel between resistance against European colonialism in Africa and the struggle against racism in the United States.

King was invited to the independence ceremony by Ghana’s new Prime Minister, Kwame Nkrumah. King’s friendBayard Rustin coordinated the invitation with the help of Bill Sutherland, a civil rights activist and pacifist who was then working for Nkrumah’s finance minister, K. A. Gbedemah. King’s trip was funded by the Montgomery Improvement Association and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, his congregation.

King arrived in Accra, the Gold Coast (soon to be Ghana), on 4 March and attended a reception where he met Vice President Richard Nixon. King told Nixon…


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