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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.

 

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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Thursday – A Little Personal – Lucy is Worried

Another adorable episode by John W. Howell starring Lucy, Bailey, and Twiggy.

Fiction Favorites

Lucy

“So Lucy. What’s going on?”

“I’m a little worried, Boss.”

“What about?”

Bailey

“Baily’s over there rolling around on the grass not paying attention.”

“Paying attention to what?”

“She’s supposed to be watching Twiggy.”

“Now look. She is actually laying down.”

“I’m sure everything is fine.”

“You don’t understand the dangers, Boss. I’m going over there.”

Lucy and Bailey

“Bailey. Get up.”

“Gee Lucy. What’s the problem?”

“You’re supposed to be watching Twiggy. That’s the problem.”

“Lucy. She is right behind me. If anything came in here, I would be on it like a duck on a Junebug.”

“Have you done the fence line? Have you scouted the perimeter?”

“Well, no. I see no need.”

“No need? How many coyotes does it take to get over this fence?”

“Okay, I’ll bite. How many?”

“Just one. One is all it would take. How surprised would you be if one jumped in here?”

“Lucy we’ve not had a coyote jump…

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A little Personal – Lucy and Twiggy at Play

Another entertaining post featuring John W. Howell’s furry kids, Lucy and Twiggy at play.

Fiction Favorites

Lucy and Twiggy

“So, Twiggy. You called?”

“Yes, Dad I did. Lucy has my key chew toy and won’t let me have it.”

“Well, Y’all know toys are to be shared so you two work it out.”

“Well, I guess calling the boss didn’t do much good.”

“I had to try. Are you going to share the keys with me?”

“Of course I will share.”

“So here are the keys. You want them?”

“How about we play hunter and prey?”

“Looks like you’re already done in.”

“Ha. I was just fooling. I’ve got the keys now.”

“You know Twiggy it is risky trying to fool someone three times your size.”

“Like I said it’s risky and so now I have the keys.”

“You did teach me a lesson, Lucy. I can see you are not easily fooled.”

“Don’t forget that I have also been around a while. Bailey tries everything she can to…

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Thursday – A Little Personal – Twiggy Needs Her Rest

John W. Howell gifts us with the sweetest exchange between Lucy and Twiggy – it’ll warm your heart!

Fiction Favorites

“Hi, Lucy. Why so glum?”

“Twiggy is under the sofa and won’t play with me.”

“Oh, I’m sure she is resting or something.”

“She says she is tired of playing”

“Tired? What’s that about?”

“We were running around pretty hard.”

“Well, there you are. She is tired. Give her some time.”

“You think so, Boss? I hope she isn’t coming down with something.”

“Twiggy. Come out of there and let’s have a discussion.”

“Good girl, Lucy. She will listen to you.”

Twiggy

“I don’t feel like playing, Lucy I need a little rest.”

“But we can take it a little slower.”

“Any ideas Bailey?”

“I’d get a treat and lure her out.”

Twiggy

“Okay. The rest is over. Here I am.”

“How about we do tug of war?”

“We can play whatever you want, Little stuff.”

“Aw. Thank you, Lucy.”

“I’m glad you feel better. I know we play a little hard sometimes.”

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