From the Montgomery bus boycott to his death in 1968, Martin Luther King always used nonviolence as a strategy. Did his political outlook change (and why) throughout the civil right movement until 1968?
Not really; Martin Luthor King by his own admission encountered Gandhian ideas very early on in his political formation; he was inspired by his philosophy when he first heard of them during his studies at Crozer Theological Seminary:
In a talk prepared for George Davis’ class, Christian Theology for Today, King included Gandhi among “individuals who greatly reveal the working of the Spirit of God”. In 1950, King heard Mordecai Johnson, president of Howard University, speak of his recent trip to India and Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance techniques. King situated Gandhi’s ideas of nonviolent direct action in the larger framework of Christianity, declaring that “Christ showed us the way and Gandhi in India showed it could work”. He later remarked that he considered Gandhi to be “the greatest Christian of the modern world”.
This judgement was astute since Gandhi himself, in his autobiography, said he had been inspired by Christ (if not by Christians! I recall him grumbling about their clumsy attempts to convert him) and by a text by Ruskin on Socialism.