In 1893, Mohandas Gandhi went to South Africa to work as legal counsel to a wealthy merchant. At the time, about 65.000 Indians, most of them very poor, lived there.About a week after Gandhi arrived at Durban, his business took him to Pretoria. He bought a first-class ticket and dressed, as he did then, in impeccable European clothing, traveled first class until thetrain reached Maritzburg. There, a white passenger protested to railroad officials, and Gandhi was ordered to a lower-class compartment. He pointed to his first-class ticket and refused to move. Apoliceman threw Gandhi and his luggage off the train, which continue its journey without him.
He spent the night in the station’s unlit, unheated waiting room. It was bitterly cold, but Gandhi’sovercoat was in his luggage and his luggage was in the hands of the railroad authorities. Gandhi dared not to request it for fear of being insulted again. Instead, he sat shivering through the endlessnight. By dawn, he had made a decision. He would fight for his rights and the rights of all the people.
He sent telegrams of protest to railroad officials and to his employer. The following evening,he was permitted to take the train to the end of the line. The next portion of the journey was by stagecoach, and the man in charge refused to permit Gandhi to sit inside with the white passengers.Gandhi agreed to sit beside the driver, but that night he wrote to the company’s agent, firmly insisting he be seated inside the coach the following day. He was.
Within a week after he arrived inPretoria he summoned the local Indians to a meeting to discuss their wretched condition. He made his first public speech that night. Indignation had finally freed his tongue.
Having concluded his case,Gandhi returned to Durban to prepare to sail home to India. But at a farewell party in his honor he noticed a newspaper item about a bill which would deprive Indians of the right to vote for members...