March 4th 1957: The Day Martin Luther King Arrived In Ghana

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Ghanaians in the country and across the world hold the month of March in special regard. It is the month in which Ghana celebrates her independence from the British Empire, a feat that pioneered the fight for independence across the African continent.

Building up to the day of commemoration, that is, the 6th of March, a lot of activities happened in Ghana, then known as the Gold Coast. Notable among these is the arrival of the world-famous activist Martin Luther King of the United States of America.

Martin Luther King with Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, March 1957

During this period in the history of Ghana, Black people in the United States had already began the civil rights and pan-African movements, movements that contributed to the radicalism of Nkrumah and his comrades to push for the independence of Ghana.

On the morning of the 4th of March 1957, Martin Luther King and his wife, Coretta Scott King arrived on the shores of the Gold Coast to witness the liberation of the African nation. He was invited by Kwame Nkrumah, the first Prime Minister of the nation through his friend Bayard Rustin and Bill Sutherland, another civil rights activist who was working for Nkrumah’s finance minister, K. A. Gbedemah.

Kwame Nkrumah and Vice President Nixon of the USA at Ghana’s Independence, 6th March 1957

Other prominent American activists and public figures that were in the Gold Coast for the independence ceremony were the then Vice President of the United States Richard Nixon, A. Philip Randolph, Ralph Bunche, Mordecai Johnson, Horace Mann Bond, Senator Charles Diggs, and Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. When he was interviewed on radio, this is what Martin Luther King had this to say:

This event, the birth of this new nation, will give impetus to oppressed peoples all over the world. I think it will have worldwide implications and repercussions—not only for Asia and Africa, but also for America… It renews my conviction in the ultimate triumph of justice. And it seems to me that this is fit testimony to the fact that eventually the forces of justice triumph in the universe, and somehow the universe itself is on the side of freedom and justice. So that this gives new hope to me in the struggle for freedom.

Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King and wife, Coretta Scott King in Gold Coast

After the independence ceremony, King and his Wife Coretta had a private lunch and audience with Kwame Nkrumah, together with activists Michael Scott and Homer Jack.

Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King continued from Ghana to Nigeria, Rome, Geneva, Paris, London and then back to New York.

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