Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – 50 Years Later

Today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A tribute by Jill Dennison


Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. was a giant among men. He led by his words, his actions, and the way he lived his life. Today, I have the distinct privilege to welcome one of the most gifted bloggers I know and my very good friend, Jill Dennison, to Words To Captivate. Jill has taught college courses in the USA on Black History in America and is an ardent fan of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On this 50th anniversary of MLK’s assassination, it is fitting that Jill shares with us how important this leader was in his own day and continues to be in the present because his work is not yet done. Thank you, Jill, for agreeing to be my guest today.


Every now and then an individual passes through this world who leaves behind an indelible mark, who is credited, deservingly, with having changed the world. Such an individual will be recorded in the annals of history long after the rest of us are but a vague and distant memory to future generations. Often, it seems, these individuals do not live long, leave much undone, but still, they made a difference far greater than those who may live to be a hundred. The life of one such man was cut short exactly fifty years ago today. That man was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

New York Times Article

There are numerous King biographies, some excellent. Many have written of his life, have paid tribute to him in a variety of ways. It is not my intent to add another to the tall stack, but merely to look at what it was that set MLK apart, that made him the shining star that influenced presidents and ordinary folk alike. And to pay a bit of tribute to a great man, and speak briefly of the legacy he left that, though it seems to be forgotten sometimes, is still with us today, even though Dr. King is not. Three things, I think, set Martin Luther King apart from the rest: his uncanny ability to know the right words for the right time, his oratory ‘gift’, and his peaceful, nonviolent approach.

MLK with a little girl

Some things cannot be learned – not from a textbook, not from parental or church guidance, nor even from life’s experiences. King’s timing in most things was impeccable, and it wasn’t something he learned, but rather just a knack he had. He knew when it was time to speak softly, but knew when it was time to raise his voice. He knew when the time and cause were right, such as when he organized the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955-56. He seemed to simply understand that Rosa Parks was the right cause and that the timing was right.

MLK + I have a dream quote

To this day, I cannot listen to King’s I Have A Dream speech without a chill running through me and tears welling in my eyes. Never before nor since have I heard anybody who could speak like Martin Luther King – not even John F. Kennedy, though he was an excellent orator. There was something about Martin, though, that made people listen, whether he was speaking quietly or booming into a microphone. You might not agree with what he was saying, but you could not help but listen. This, too, was a gift – it was not a learned skill, not even a talent really, not something practiced – it just was.

MLK in jail

Martin Luther King was, above all else, a peaceful activist. Despite this, he was arrested and sent to jail no less than 29 times during his life! One of those times was for driving 30 mph in a 25 mph zone – no racial profiling here! It was during one of his stints in the Birmingham, Alabama jail in 1963 that King penned what would become his most famous written document, Letter From A Birmingham Jail. He wrote the letter on newspaper margins, scraps of paper and smuggled-in legal pads. He had no notes or reference materials. His letter is timeless and so much of it still resonates today, 55 years later. For example, he called out the white church for being an “arch supporter of the status quo,” and castigated its ministers for failing to recognize the black man as their brother. We look at the evangelical Christian churches today and wish we could send a copy of King’s letter to each and every one. The letter is long … nearly 7,000 words … thus I cannot replicate it here but will include a link to the .pdf file for anyone who would like to read it.


And later that year, in August, Martin gave his iconic I Have A Dream speech that touched the hearts of so many.


Many, perhaps most, believe that King was killed because he was becoming too radical, steering further than just wanting “whites only” signs taken down. His focus had expanded to include the war in Vietnam, and in 1968 he was trying to build an interracial coalition to end the war in Vietnam and force major economic reforms. There are many theories about his assassination that I steer clear of, for as with the assassination of JFK almost five years earlier, I suspect the full truth will never be known. I prefer, instead, to focus on his legacy, to remember and remind others of the timeless lessons that he left us. The essence of Martin Luther King’s legacy, I think, can be summed by a few of his most poignant quotes:

MLK Quote: Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

MLK Quote: The Ultimate measure of a man...

MLK Quote: In the end...

MLK Quote: Injustice anywhere...

MLK Quote: That old law...

MLK Quote: Darkness cannot drive...

Did Martin Luther King put an end to racism? No, of course not. But he showed the world that it is possible, with determination, strength, and courage, to make a difference without the use of violence. He proved to us that it is possible to love everyone as brothers if we just open our hearts and our minds. Sadly, far too many have forgotten this, and today when I look around, I see nobody with those innate qualities Dr. King had that gave him the power to change the world, to open people’s hearts and minds with words rather than guns. We need another Dr. Martin Luther King. After 50 years, we still miss Dr. Martin Luther King.


A Bit of MLK trivia …

• He skipped two grades and left for college before formally graduating high school. Entering Morehouse College at the age of 15, he was accepted as part of an early admittance program that was aimed to boost enrollment during the war. Dr. King received a bachelor’s degree at age 19.

• Upon marrying his wife, Coretta, he realized that it was not very easy for him to go on a honeymoon due to his skin color, so they ended up having it at a friend’s funeral parlor.

• On September 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his new book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” in Blumstein’s department store when he was approached by Izola Ware Curry. The woman asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr. After he said yes, Curry said, “I’ve been looking for you for five years,” and she plunged a seven-inch letter opener into his chest. The tip of the blade came to rest alongside his aorta, and King underwent hours of delicate emergency surgery. Surgeons later told King that just one sneeze could have punctured the aorta and killed him. From his hospital bed where he convalesced for weeks, King issued a statement affirming his nonviolent principles and saying he felt no ill will toward his mentally ill attacker.

• In 1964, at the age of 35, King won the Nobel Peace Prize. To this day he is still the youngest male to ever receive it.

• On June 30, 1974, as Dr. King’s mother, 69-year-old Alberta Williams King played the organ at a Sunday service inside Ebenezer Baptist Church. Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. rose from the front pew, drew two pistols and began to fire shots. One of the bullets struck and killed Ms. King, who died steps from where her son had preached nonviolence. The deranged gunman said that Christians were his enemy and that although he had received divine instructions to kill King’s father, who was in the congregation, he killed King’s mother instead because she was closer. The shooting also left a church deacon dead. Chenault received a death penalty sentence that was later changed to life imprisonment, in part due to the King family’s opposition to capital punishment.

• As a result of helping organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott that lasted 385 days, King was not only arrested but his house was also bombed.

• There are two places outside of the United States that celebrate MLK day: Toronto, Canada, and Hiroshima, Japan.


John’s Believe It Or Not… June 25th

* 1968 – Pierre Trudeau wins majority in 28th federal general election. * 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn * 1950 Korean War begins * 1993 Kim Campbell takes office * 2009 “King of Pop” Michael Jackson dies at age 50

It’s Monday! Did You Know…

* 1968 – Pierre Trudeau wins majority in 28th federal general election.

The Canadian federal election of 1968 was held on June 25, 1968, to elect members of the House of Commons of Canada of the 28th Parliament of Canada. The Liberal Party won a majority government under its new leader, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

Trudeau, who was a relative unknown until he was appointed to the cabinet by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, had won a surprise victory over Paul Joseph James Martin, Paul Hellyer and Robert Winters in the party’s leadership election earlier in 1968. The charismatic, intellectual, handsome, single, and fully bilingual Trudeau soon captured the hearts and minds of the nation, and the period leading up to the election saw such intense feelings for him that it was dubbed “Trudeaumania.” At public appearances, he was confronted by screaming girls, something never before seen in Canadian politics. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 25th”

More Tears of Shame …

Jill Dennison has penned an excellent post describing the tragedy surrounding the 2300 children brought across the southern U.S. border by illegal immigrants and ripped from their families. This tragedy was not brought to an end by Trump’s executive order earlier this week, and Jill is asking her American readers to stand up and be counted in the upcoming November elections. Amen!

Filosofa's Word

Trump signed an executive order earlier this week that did … nothing.  Nonetheless, that didn’t stop him from preening and patting himself on the back.  While thousands of children remain terrified and separated from their parents, held in old warehouses, tent cities, and wherever the U.S. government can find room to stow them.

Administration officials admit that there is no immediate plan to reunite these children with their families.  Melania Trump visits them wearing a jacket that says, “I don’t care, do U?”  Fox television host Brian Kilmeade says we should not be concerned because “These aren’t our kids … it’s not like he is doing this to the people of Idaho or, uh, or, uh, Texas. These are people from another country.” Members of Congress, congressional candidates, and the press have been denied entry to tour the facilities.  A senator was escorted from the premises by police…

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John’s Believe It Or Not… June 22nd

* 1774 – Parliament passes the Québec Act – backs Catholic religion and the French civil code. * 1633 Galileo Galilei forced to recant his Copernican views that the Earth orbits the Sun by the Pope (Vatican only admits it was wrong on Oct 31, 1992!) * 1611 Hudson set adrift by mutineers * 1962 Mysterious crash in Guadeloupe * 1937 Louis becomes champ

It’s Friday! TGIF! Did You Know…

* 1774 – Parliament passes the Québec Act – backs Catholic religion and the French civil code.

Question: Why was Quebec allowed to maintain its French character while Louisiana could not?

n 1763, after a century of imperial warfare in North America, which included a decisive British victory at the Plains of Abraham, France ceded much of its North American territory, including Île Royale (Cape Breton Island), Canada and its holdings in the Great Lakes Basin and east of the Mississippi (except New Orleans), to Great Britain with the signing of the Treaty of Paris (see also Conquest). Subsequently, the Royal Proclamation (also adopted in 1763) integrated these new territorial gains and its people into Britain’s North American empire. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 22nd”

Thursday – A Little Personal – The Rains Came

John W. Howell gifts us with an episode featuring Lucy and Bailey getting into some mischief. Please enjoy!

Fiction Favorites

Twiggy is off today. She is recovering from her spay surgery. She is fine just confined to the house. Lucy and Baily, on the other hand, have free rein.

As most of you know, I live on a barrier island of the South Coast of Texas. This year we have been suffering from a drought. Our rainfall is in a deficit condition. So we finally got some rain and today’s story is about two miscreant doggies.


Here is a photo of the pond behind our house.  The water level is about twelve inches too low. This photo was taken on June 12th. That grey thing is a culvert pipe for the drains on the street.

Drought over

As you can see with the rain, we had yesterday the pond is more than full.

Now on to Lucy and Bailey

“Bailey. What are you doing in that water?”

“I’d like to say the breaststroke…

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John’s Believe It Or Not… June 21st

* Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day * 1964 The KKK kills three civil rights activists * 1990 Earthquake devastates Iran * 1956 Arthur Miller refuses to name communists * 1965 Mr. Tambourine Man is released and the folk-rock revolution is on

It’s Thursday! It’s Summer!

It’s National Indigenous Peoples Day!

Did You Know…

* Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day

National Aboriginal Day is a day recognizing and celebrating the cultures and contributions of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Indigenous peoples in Canada. The day was first celebrated in 1996, after it was proclaimed that year by then Governor General of Canada Roméo LeBlanc, to be celebrated on 21 June annually. 21 June was chosen as the statutory holiday for many reasons-including its cultural significance as the Summer solstice, and the fact that it is a day on which many Aboriginal groups traditionally celebrate their heritage. On 21 June 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement pledging to rename the event National Indigenous Peoples Day. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 21st”

A Canadian Perspective – A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

Today, blogger Jill Dennison has generously hosted me on her informative and exciting blog, Filosofa’s Word. Thanks, Jill, for this opportunity to share my views as a Canadian blogger about these difficult days in the relationship between our two countries.

Filosofa's Word

After I opined strongly about Trump’s abominable behaviour toward Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I began to wonder how the people of Canada viewed the incident.  I asked Canadian friend John if he would write a guest post for me, and he graciously agreed.  Thank you, John!

Trump’s Treatment of Trudeau – A Canadian Perspective

By John Fioravanti

For many months since the inauguration of Donald Trump, I have watched him behave poorly as he played to his base of supporters. I am dismayed that his enablers in the GOP party in Congress refuse to exercise their constitutional duty to oversee his decisions that are often based on ignorance of the facts and outright lies. I don’t think Donald Trump has many supporters or admirers in Canada.

Figure 1: President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit 2018Figure 1: President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

To be honest, I am a supporter of Canada’s Liberal Party, which is…

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John’s Believe It Or Not… June 20th

* 1877 – Great Fire of Saint John destroys business district. * 1789 Third Estate makes Tennis Court Oath * 1900 Boxer Rebellion begins in China * 1977 Oil flows in Alaska * 1975 Jaws released

It’s Hump Day Wednesday! Did You Know…

* 1877 – Great Fire of Saint John destroys business district.

In late June 1877, Saint John, New Brunswick, was laid waste by a devastating fire.

It began about 2:30 on the afternoon of 20 June when a spark fell into a bundle of hay in Henry Fairweather’s storehouse in the York Point Slip area, which in present day is in the vicinity of Market Square. It is unknown where the spark originated. It may have come from McLaughlan & Son’s boiler shop next door or may have been carried from a nearby sawmill. The month of June had been warm, with fine weather and little or no rain. Wooden structures predominant in Saint John at this time were tinder dry and highly flammable. When the fire was discovered it was already burning rapidly in large bundles of hay and aided by a fresh, strong breeze it rapidly escalated into a major conflagration. Within two minutes of the alarm sounding, Engine #3 was dousing the fire. Although other engines followed immediately, the fire had already spread by means of heat and sparks to other wooden structures nearby. At times, the fire reached temperatures perhaps so high some buildings exploded into flames without actual contact with the fire. This prompted fearful rumors that the fire was intentionally set. Continue reading “John’s Believe It Or Not… June 20th”