With jazz great Herbie Hancock and Congressman John Lewis at her side, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosted a State Department ceremony on Thursday to mark the departure of a cultural delegation to India to commemorate civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s trip there 50 years ago.
King and his wife, Coretta, traveled to India in 1959 to study the life and works of India’s legendary nonviolent independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. King adopted many of Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence to the U.S. civil rights movement in the early 1960s.
Clinton said she was “jealous” of the trip by the delegation, which includes Hancock, civil rights veteran Lewis, King’s son, Martin Luther King III, and Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus. The group will travel to New Delhi and other sites associated with Gandhi.
Hancock said the philosophy of cooperation, communication and harmony espoused by King and Gandhi “are also essential elements of every jazz band.”
Clinton, meanwhile, said the delegation was “exactly what the State Department should be doing even more of.”
“Jazz is not just about music,” the newly installed diplomat said. “As secretary of state, I’m improvising every day.”