Martin Luther King Jr. is widely read through his association with Gandhi’s ideas and practice. Whilst it is important to neither overstate nor ignore this influence, the paper retraces the work undertaken behind-the-scenes to script this relationship for wider audiences. It questions how King’s casting as America’s Black Gandhi was strategically undertaken, by whom and for what purposes, as well as exploring why it was ultimately short-lived. Although King experimented with Gandhism briefly in the late-1950s, by the early-1960s the idea had largely been dropped. In particular, the paper focuses on the role played by the American pacifist movement up to, and including, organising King’s visit to India in 1959. These sources are used to make a broader argument that King’s ability to inhabit Gandhi’s legacy during the movement’s early years was critical to forging global anti-colonial connections. As such the paper argues that nonviolence was more than a repertoire of resistance techniques, but a spatial mechanism which could fold scale, bridge distance, and thereby produce and reshape racial solidarity itself.