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Gandhi's grandson headed for Coeur d'Alene

| March 1, 2011 8:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - The grandson of Mahatma Gandhi will be the keynote speaker at this year's annual human rights banquet hosted by the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations.

Arun Gandhi will speak April 11 at the banquet to be held at the Best Western Coeur d'Alene Inn, 506 W. Appleway Ave.

Gandhi, grandson of the legendary Mohandas Gandhi, has spoken in nations throughout the world, furthering his grandfather's message of non-violence, and carrying one of his own.

Arun Gandhi grew up in apartheid South Africa. As a person of Indian heritage, for Gandhi, that meant racial confrontations with both whites and blacks.

As a boy, he was often beaten by black youth for not being black enough and by white youth for not being white. These experiences left him bitter and filled with rage. When his parents discovered this condition, they sent 12-year-old Arun to India to be with his famous grandfather. It was through the guidance of his grandfather that he learned to appreciate and understand the meaning of peaceful nonviolence.

In 1991 Arun Gandhi and his late wife, Sunanda, founded the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at The University of Rochester in New York.

His banquet topic will be "Lessons Learned from My Grandfather: Non-Violence in a Violent World."

All banquet profits will go to the Human Rights Education Institute for expenses, and will be used to fund the HREI's Senator Mary Lou Reed and Governor Phil Batt minority student scholarships at North Idaho College.

The 2010 Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations Civil Rights Award will be presented at the banquet to Marissa Williams, publisher and Scotta Callister, editor, of the Blue Mountain Eagle from John Day, Ore. Williams and Callister organized successful rallies and events that stood up to and said no to the threat of a neo-Nazi moving to John Day and establishing a headquarters in their community.

Kootenai County Task Force members Norm and Diana Gissel and Tony Stewart participated in those rallies and events last year.

Coeur d'Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem will welcome the out-of-state guests and speak to the significance of the human rights movement in the Inland Northwest.

Tickets are $40 per person and organization tables can be purchased for $600 or $1,000. The $1,000 table participants will have a private reception with Arun Gandhi. The event begins at 5:30 with a reception at the Best Western Coeur d'Alene Inn prior to the dinner.

Tickets can be purchased by check, payable to the HREI and mailed to P.O. Box 2725, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83816.

Information: 765-3932