Jawaharlal Nehru was a man of three extraordinary epochs. He was a leader in the long anticolonial struggle to free his own land and to inspire a fighting will in other lands under bondage.
He lived to see victory and to move then to another epochal confrontation-the fight for peace after World War II. In this climactic struggle he did not have Gandhi at his side, but he did have the Indian people, now free in their own great Republic.
It would be hard to overstate Nehru's and lndia's contributions in this period. It was a time fraught with the constant threat of a devastating finality for mankind. There was no moment in this period free from the peril of atomic war. In these years Nehru was a towering world force skillfully inserting the peace will of India between the raging antagonisms of the great powers of East and West.
The world needed a mediator and an "honest broker" lest, in its sudden acquisition of overwhelming destructive force, one side or the other might plunge the world into mankind's last war. Nehru had the prestige, the wisdom, and the daring to play the role.
The markedly relaxed tensions of today are Nehru's legacy to us, and at the same time they are our monument to him.
It should not be forgotten that the treaty to end nuclear testing accomplished in 1963 was first proposed by Nehru. Let us also remember that the world dissolution of colonialism now speedily unfolding had its essential orgins in India's massive victory. And let it also be remembered that Nehru guided into being the "Asian-African Bloc" as a united voice for the billions who were groping toward a modern world. He was the architect of the policy of nonalignment or neutralism which was calculated to give independent expression to the emerging nations while enabling them to play a constructive role in world affairs.
The third epoch of Nehru's work is unfolding after his death. Even though his physical presence is gone, his spiritual influence retains a living force. The great powers are not yet in harmonious relationship to each other, but with the help of the nonaligned world they have learned to exercise a wise restraint. In this is the basis for a lasting détente. Beyond this, Nehru's example in daring to believe and act for peaceful co-existence gives mankind its most glowing hope.
In this period my people, the Negroes of the United States, have made strides toward freedom beyond all precedent in our history. Our successes directly derive from our employment of the tactics of nonviolent direct action and non-cooperation with evil which Nehru effectively employed under Gandhi's inspiration.
The peculiar genius of imperialism was found in its capacity to delude so much of the world into the belief that it was civilising primitive cultures even though it was grossly exploiting them.
Satyagraha made the myth transparent as it revealed the oppressed to be the truly civilised party. They rejected violence but maintained resistance, while the oppressor knew nothing but the use of violence.
My people found that Satyagraha, applied in the United States to our oppressors, also clarified who was right and who was Wrong. On this foundation of truth as irresistible, a majority could be organised for just solutions.
Our fight is not yet won, just as the struggle against colonialism is still unfinished, and above all, the achievement of a stable peace still lies ahead of and not behind us.
In all of these struggles of mankind to rise to a true state of civilisation, the towering figure of Nehru sits unseen but felt at all council tables. He is missed by the world, and because he is so wanted, he is a living force in the tremulous world of today.