City Year Founding Story Be The Change

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

— Mahatma Gandhi




Mahatma Gandhi led the Indian nationalist movement, which overthrew British colonial rule through nonviolence, leading to the creation of a sovereign Indian nation in 1947.

As a change agent, he lived his life based on the principles of courage, non-violence, and truth. Much of his power drew from his commitment to embodying these principles in his own life. Gandhi believed that there were three routes to social change: the ballot (the process of voting and elections), the jail (by which he meant civil disobedience – being willing to give up your personal freedom to protest an unjust law or society), and the spinning wheel (which represented self-sustainability, nonparticipation in economic oppression, and simplicity.)

He embodied his commitment to these pathways of change by living a simple life, renouncing personal belongings. Gandhi spun the thread to make his own clothing, thus making the symbol of the spinning wheel a reality in his own life. Additionally, he led thousands of people in non-violent civil disobedience, or ‘Satyagraha,’ for which he was arrested many times throughout his life.

Perhaps the most famous example of ‘Satyagraha’ – and being the change he wished to see in the world – was the Salt March of 1930, a march to protest the British salt tax that had legalized starvation-level taxation for many Indians. The attention of the world was galvanized as Gandhi and his fellow marchers, which began as a group of 79 and grew to thousands, marched 240 miles to the coast. Scooping up handfuls of mud and salt, Gandhi announced to the crowd: “With this salt I am shaking the foundations of an empire.”

Gandhi’s life is a powerful example of what can be accomplished through living the change you wish to see in the world.

About the Artist: Emma Mattesky

New Orleans native Emma Mattesky is a senior at Tulane University. She took this photograph at a school just outside Accra, Ghana where the members of her development studies class visited for a day to help build a church, tour a medical facility, and donate books to the school library. This photo includes a few of the students who helped paint the mural.