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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

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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.

https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/Letter_Birmingham_Jail.pdf

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.

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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.

 

Welcome to the “UNDER A FALLEN SUN” Blog Tour! @JohnCoonSports @4WillsPub

Readers, please give a warm welcome to Author, John Coons, on tour today.

 

Making a Scene

Do you love deleted scenes? I can’t get enough of them. When I buy or rent a DVD to see a movie or binge-watch a full season of a TV show, I always check to see if it includes deleted scenes. I find it fascinating to see what the director left on the cutting room floor and how that decision ultimately influenced the final version of the story.

 As an author, you influence the direction your story takes with the scenes you include and the ones you choose to leave to the imagination of your readers.

 Making the cut

 Deleted scenes usually get cut from the final draft for a good reason. Sometimes, these scenes end up being a tangent that bogs down the pacing and doesn’t move the story forward. Other times, they simply repeat information found elsewhere and serve no useful purpose.

 Discarding a scene you spent hours or even days creating isn’t an easy thing for an author to do. If these scenes were of poor quality, making cuts would seem like an obvious and logical choice. That isn’t always the case with a deleted scene.

 A scene can contain wonderful imagery, witty dialogue, or intriguing character moments and still interrupt the pace and flow of the main story. It creates a real dilemma for an author when they go from writing mode into editing mode. Ultimately, what you take out can have as much impact as what you choose to leave in the story.

 My own deleted scenes

 I faced a dilemma when I wrote my debut novel Pandora Reborn. I ended up removing multiple scenes I envisioned while writing the rough draft, mainly because they would have been seriously hokey or cheesy and undercut the tone I aimed for in the narrative. One scene didn’t fit that bill and it proved to be a tough cut.

 I originally wanted to include a flashback sequence detailing how Casey and Christina became best friends before Ron connected with them in the story. It contained some cool imagery, fun dialogue, and a suspenseful moment or two that involved them facing down a monster.

 Ultimately, I had no choice but to cut the scene since it created a tangent that interrupted the flow of the story. The scene also did not present any new information that readers didn’t get elsewhere.

 I ended up facing a similar decision with a scene in Under a Fallen Sun. Early in the planning stage, I wanted to include a scene that featured Paige skipping out on a college party to scour social media posts to see if anyone had leads on the whereabouts of her missing brother Todd. This would have included a flashback sequence to a driveway basketball game between the two siblings. It offered a nice character moment, but really dragged down the pace of the story early in the narrative. I ultimately found other ways to showcase their relationship within the narrative.

Leaving Scenes Unseen

 Some authors make the classic mistake of adding unnecessary scenes and subplots, thinking it will make their fictional world more immersive for their audience. What it accomplishes is turning their story into a tedious read.

 Scenes must propel the story forward. Authors need to resist including a scene of any length that draws a reader out of a story. They should use enough brush strokes to paint a picture inside a reader’s mind and then leave it up to them to fill in the minor details.

 An author can make their fictional world appear larger than what is shown on the page by including references and allusions to unseen events, characters, and interactions. It can show up in something as simple as a line of dialogue or a fleeting thought from a main character.

 Hinting at what occurs off the page can be more fun for your reader because you invite them to open the door to their imagination and collaborate with you in building your fictional world.

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  

 

We Are All One

Dear Readers, it has been a hiatus of many months since I posted a blog of my own on this site. After spending a lot of time soul searching and listening to words of encouragement from my wife and close friends, I have decided to return to my blogging roots and resurrect the series of blogs I called “My Inspiration.”

Today’s post focuses on the inspirational words of Maya Angelou who was one of America’s most influential people and continues to move us to search our hearts with her immortal words.

“The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God – if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That’s what I think.”

Maya Angelou

The element of Maya Angelou’s writings that always strikes me is her innate humility. In the first line, “it seems to me” she makes it clear that all she wants to do is share personal thoughts instead of preaching a truth that we must accept. Immediately, my mind opens wide to what follows and I read on in anticipation. This gives me pause. Do I invite people to share in my thinking or am I sounding more like the booming gong and clanging cymbal in St. Paul’s epistle about love?

In her next breath, Ms Angelou encourages us to prepare ourselves to be “a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.” Many of us, I think, associate preparedness for a test or for success that benefits us in some way. How often are we asked to prepare ourselves in order to serve others? She makes it very clear that we should be a source of brightness and joy in the life of another person who is in the shadow of some personal trouble.

As I turn that idea over in my mind, I wonder how one prepares for that kind of service. Cultivating a point of view that looks outward beyond my own wants and needs towards others would be a good start. I need to develop genuine empathy so that I can recognize another’s need. As well, I need to shed any negativity about life that I’ve accumulated along my own journey, and be a hopeful person who looks for the goodness in others.

This kind of personal growth is no small task, in my view! Perhaps for some, being a beacon of light for others is as simple as rolling out of bed in the morning. Regardless, I agree with Maya Angelou that every human being should strive to serve with no expectation of reward from the world around us. From my own experience, the times when I have helped someone to smile, the warm inner glow I felt was reward enough.

In the last few lines, Angelou addresses the things that divide humans: race, gender, religion, and culture among other things. For her, our shared humanity is paramount. There is nothing more important than reaching out to all persons we contact, not just the ones who share the same identifiers with ourselves.

I remember reading an article that discussed the traits that are shared in common by all humans. As I read about our shared physicality, physical needs, psychological needs which drive us, and our common spiritual yearnings, I was struck by the triviality of the things that we allow to divide us. The resulting intolerance and fear of our noticeable differences precipitate conflict and warfare among us.

I believe that Maya Angelou was a visionary. She saw and experienced great ugliness in her life yet chose to live a better way. This realization on my part leads me to better appreciate our freedom to choose. We can decide for ourselves to serve others or be selfish. Do we choose to dwell on the ugliness in this world or to live joyfully in gratitude for the beauty in our world and within every human being?

Thank you, Maya Angelou. I’d also like to thank my good friend, Jill Dennison, who blogs each week at Filosofa’s Word about people who have chosen to follow the path made clear in this quote and reach out with kindness to strangers in need who are in their midst. Thanks, Jill, for these uplifting examples of how ordinary folks can work miracles in the lives of others!

Welcome to “THE CHOICE, the Unexpected Heroes” Blog Tour! @gmplano @4WillsPub #RRBC

It’s my pleasure today to welcome author Gwen Plano back to Words To Captivate. Gwen is not only a good friend and former colleague but she is also an excellent wordsmith and storyteller. This post will serve to highlight her newly released novel “THE CHOICE, the Unexpected Heroes” and tell you about the author. Please give Gwen a warm welcome here today.

Edward W. Barrett, the former dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University made the claim, “Above all, one seeks the attitude of ruthless fairness, of reporting what he dislikes as honestly as what he likes — in short, true intellectual integrity.”

The scene: Documents related to the cabal were sent digitally to journalism departments at key universities across the United States and abroad. Also sent was an invitation to a debriefing at the base. In the following exchange writer, Julie Underwood addresses students and their questions.

Students line up and approach the mic. Ms Underwood asks that they begin by introducing themselves and identifying their college.

“Raymond Augustine from the University of Connecticut. You sent the evidence to journalism departments. Why?”

“First of all, you must have taken a redeye flight to get here, Ray. Thank you for doing so. To your question, I sent the information where I did because students are naturally investigative. They question, they search, and they want to cover a real story. This is a REAL story. This is what a story looks like when not fed to you. It is raw, scary, and potentially life-threatening. Just yesterday, a crucial player in this cabal was murdered while behind bars. The Lion made sure the man could never speak. However, we made sure that you and objective reporters would see the evidence. If someone tries to change the facts, you will know it, and you will remember this day.”

“James Ahern, NBC News. Ms Underwood, don’t you think you’ve exaggerated things, maybe come to misleading conclusions?”

“Mr Ahern, in what way do you believe I exaggerated? As I stated, close to two-dozen people have died. Executed. All associated in one way or another with the Lion. Tell me, how do you imagine that anyone inflated this story?”

“It’s just a question.”

“Who paid for you to travel here today, Mr Ahern? What are your marching orders? Would you like to share?”

Students start to yell at James Ahern, and Security Forces move closer to the stands. Admiral Parker walks to the mic. “Could we have quiet, please.”

“THE CHOICE” Book Trailer

BIO:

Growing up in Southern California, Gwen Plano loved learning. She earned four degrees and taught and served in universities and colleges across the country and in Japan. Now retired, she is focused on writing. Gwen’s first book, Letting Go into Perfect Love, is a memoir. Her second book, The Contract, is a thriller co-authored by John W. Howell. Gwen lives in the Midwest with her husband, and when she is not writing, she is travelling, usually to see one of her four children and many grandchildren.

Links:

Amazon

Website

Twitter

Facebook

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
Lastly, Gwen is a member of the best book club ever – RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {#RRBC}! If you’re looking for amazing support as an author, or if you simply love books, JOIN US! We’d love to have you!
Thanks for supporting this author and her work!

Thursday – A Little Personal – Twiggy, Lucy, and Bailey Have a Restful Day

John W. Howell shares another great episode with his three furry kids – an episode to which I can relate!

Fiction Favorites

Lucy, Bailey, Twiggy

“How about a game of fetch, Twiggy?”

“Not so sure. Let me jump on the couch.”

“Um if Lucy will play I will play.”

“Okay. Let’s see what Lucy says.”

“Hmm. A little late I would say.”

“How about Bailey?”

“A little late there too Dad.”

“Okay no fetch. What else?”

“How about we see who can keep their eyes closed the longest.”

“Hey, that’s a trick parents play not the other way around.”

“Fraid you lose, Boss.”

“I wasn’t playing.”

“Go ahead and work on your post, Dad. I’ll just catch a few winks.”

“You guys need to be doing something other than sleeping.”

“How about I test this fine couch. I’ll give you a full report.”

“That is not exactly what I had in mind.”

“I can tell you this bed is first rate.”

“I’m sure Twiggy. I’m sure.”

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U.S. Isolationism: Then and Now — A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

Jill Dennison is hosting a post I wrote about the impacts of US Isolationism. Thank you, Jill!

Filosofa's Word

Earlier this week, after Trump spoke to the United Nations General Assembly, and later the Security Council, I asked our Canadian friend, John Fioravanti, if he would be interested in doing a guest post from the perspective of how Trump’s “America First” isolationist policy will affect the rest of the world.  He did me the honour of accepting my request, and so, without further ado, I turn this stage over to John …


U.S. Isolationism: Then and Now

john fioravantiI thank Jill Dennison for her generous invitation to host me on her amazing blog site. Every day I read and enjoy Jill’s posts because she always gives her readers food for thought. I hope my offering below will do the same.


Those of us living outside the USA know how dangerous American isolationism is to world peace and prosperity. The current Trump administration is determined to turn the clock back more…

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Thursday – A Little Personal – Lucy, Bailey, and Twiggy Try Soccer

John W. Howell gifts us with another delightful story about his three furry kids.

Fiction Favorites

“What do you want to do today, Twiggy?”

“Gosh, I don’t know Lucy. It is so hot. Let me go over to Bailey and ask her.””

“What about you, Bailey?”

‘Well Little Stuff, I was looking forward to a little sun and a nap.”

“Sun and a nap, Bailey? That’s all you ever do.”

“Aw come on. I do other stuff. Where you going?”

“Be right back.”

“We could play leapfrog, Bailey. Watch my long jump.”

“Very impressive, Little Potato, but I don’t think Lucy will do it.”

“Do what?”

“Play leap frog.”

“Look Bailey. I’m making a face.”

“Well, you have that right. No dignity in that game for sure.”

“Come on Bailey. This is a funny face right?”

“Yeah, Land Hippo it is.”

“Where did this soccer ball come from.”

“I threw it there.”

“Oh, Boss I didn’t see you there on the porch.”

“You guys need some…

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Look The Other Way …

Jill Dennison rails against apathy in the face of criminal acts and injustices. It is time to stop looking the other way!

Filosofa's Word

How, we ask ourselves, did a sexual predator with a volatile temper and no knowledge of how government works, become the president?  How is this possible in what was once among the freest nations on earth?  Quite simple … we all have preconceived notions of what we want, and if something stands in the way of achieving those goals, we simply … look the other way.

A nominee for Supreme Court justice refuses to answer questions, is caught lying during his confirmation hearings and then is accused of having sexually assaulted one or more girls during his early years.  The republicans have been ordered by Donald Trump to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, regardless.  What to do, what to do?  Look the other way.

The human race, as well as most other living creatures, is on a collision course with disaster unless we make some tough choices in the very near future. …

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