The University of Alabama

MLK Lecture Series Welcomes Religion Expert and Fulbright Scholar M.V. Krishnayya

Dr. M.V. Krishnayya (Courtesy Shelton State Community College)

Dr. M.V. Krishnayya (Courtesy Shelton State Community College)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – An award winning religion expert from India’s Andhra University will discuss two of the world’s best-known promoters of peace, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Lecture Series, sponsored jointly by The University of Alabama, Shelton State Community College and Stillman College.

Dr. M.V. Krishnayya will present “Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Comparative Study” Wednesday, Nov. 29, at 12:30 p.m. in the Forum of the Ferguson Center on the UA campus.

The MLK Distinguished Lecture Series, now in its seventh year, is part of Tuscaloosa’s month-long celebration of the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The series will also host Krishnayya’s lecture at Stillman College’s Stinson Auditorium Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m.

At both lectures, Krishnayya will discuss Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.’s backgrounds and the ways in which they used religion and culture for the promotion of nonviolence.

Krishnayya is a joint Fulbright scholar-in-residence at Shelton State Community College and UA, where he teaches in the department of anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“There are so many fascinating similarities between the two leaders. They both had an obligation and great responsibility to their countries, and they both heartily combined politics and religion. Gandhi’s example inspired Dr. King to help the nation overcome the problems of segregation and poverty,” said Krishnayya.

“King’s vision, similar to Gandhi’s, went beyond helping solely his own people. He was equally interested in aiding the white poor and other less fortunate citizens,” continued Krishnayya. “It is very fortunate that King found a great ideal in Gandhi which he successfully utilized to lead very powerful social movements in Alabama and other states. Their leadership is not something one can read in a book and follow, it is unique.”

Dr. Samory Pruitt, chair of the MLK Realizing the Dream Committee and vice-president for UA Community Affairs, said that Krishnayya’s lecture will be important to UA because of the two peacemakers’ similar interests in the pursuit of moral character and excellence.

“This lecture is significant in its assessment of some of the greatest leaders the world has ever had. Both Dr. King and Gandhi have set a global precedent of peace. We are honored as well to have Krishnayya speaking at this university. An award-winning professor from India, he has much knowledge to share with us both about his studies there regarding Gandhi and what he has learned from living here about Dr. King,” said Pruitt.

Krishnayya is professor and chair of the department of philosophy and religious studies in Andhra University in Visakhapatnam, India and will return to India in May.

His primary research interests include history of religions, existentialism, comparative approaches to religion and culture, and peace and non-violence in Indian traditions. He is the author of “Early Buddhism and Jean Paul Sartre: A Study in Comparative Philosophy” (Andhra University Press) and has written articles titled “Man in Early Buddhism,” “Buddhism and World Peace,” “Sartre,” and “The Human Problem of Our Era: An Existential Approach.”

Krishnayya is the recipient of the Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishna Prize in Philosophy and the Gopalakrishnayya Prize in Philosophy, among other awards and honors.

Krishnayya’s lecture is also co-sponsored by UA’s department of anthropology.

The MLK Distinguished Lecture Series is presented in conjunction with the Realizing the Dream Committee, which consists of representatives from UA, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College. It attracts well-known scholars and civil rights advocates to the Tuscaloosa community to discuss the past and future of the ideas of social justice and non-violence that King championed.

Lecturers are drawn from various disciplines: business, economics, and entrepreneurship; social and human sciences; natural sciences and medicine; arts/entertainment; and technology. Past speakers in the series have included Alice Walker, novelist and author of “The Color Purple” and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, one of the Civil Rights movement’s earliest and most respected leaders, among others.

All lectures are free and open to the public.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Nelda Sanker, Communications Specialist, College of Arts and Sciences, 205/348-8539, nsanker@as.ua.edu