Friday, January 16, 2015

Martin Luther King Day - Not Just a Holiday

A Long Weekend!

Do you have plans for the long weekend coming up? A three-day weekend is always a treat. I have some good memories of family ski weekends, relaxing getaways, and travels to swim meets during these short breaks from school. 

Family skiing, Martin Luther King weekend 2008.
Shortly after the weekend this photo was taken, I purchased my first ski helmet, and have worn one every time I have skied since. That's not a fur scarf I'm wearing - it's a turtleneck and my frosty hair!

The purpose of Martin Luther King Day, however, is not just an opportunity for a three day weekend. I always have tried to remember (and remind my kids) that it is a time to reflect on the struggles of the civil rights movement, and the promotion of equal rights for everyone.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929, but the American Federal holiday that honors him is always the third Monday of January. There is unfortunately still a lot of progress needed to ensure equality for all humans, but his efforts moved us a long way in the right direction.

A Word Prompt Challenge

I enjoy the challenge of writing from a word prompt once in a while. I decided to see if I could incorporate this week's Words for Wednesday, (supplied on the blog Under the Porch Light) in an informational piece about Martin Luther King. To accomplish this, I had to do a little research, and I learned some things I hadn't known before.

This is not a history report, but an attempt at providing a little historical insight within a creative writing piece. It may contain some information you did not know. 

This week's word prompt words:
telescopic, injured, frame, smooth, incandescent, spectacular


Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the great leaders of the civil rights movement, and is perhaps the most famous. A gifted motivational speaker, he used his speeches to inform and get people involved in the civil rights movement.

Nothing short of incandescent

His lectures on non-violence and civil rights took him to India. There, Martin Luther King met Ghandi, whom he described as “the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.” Ghandi may have been a “guiding light,” but King’s attempts to bring about social change in a peaceful way were nothing short of incandescent (both in the passionate and illuminating sense of the word.)

“Not one hair of one head ...”

Martin Luther King could have had a spectacular career as a doctor or a lawyer, with his educational background. Instead, he became a Baptist minister and a social activist. He was president of the SCLC Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization which firmly believed in non-violence, with the motto "Not one hair of one head of one person should be harmed."

Unfortunately the efforts towards ensuring racial equality were not always smooth. Peaceful protesters were on occasion responded to with violence and participants were hurt, despite the plan that no one be injured.

No Paparazzi were present

On April 4th, 1968 King was fatally wounded by a bullet, while standing on the balcony of a motel. As far as I know, there were no photos taken at the moment he was shot, as was the case with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which happened during a scheduled public event. 

In present day, a political figure of such import can rarely have a private moment unobserved by the press. King's assassination in today’s world would most likely be caught in the frame of the zoom lens with telescopic power of an ever-present photographer. 

Reporters did arrive (to read a news report, click here) and photographs were taken shortly after the shot was fired. James Earl Ray was convicted as the murderer and given a life sentence in prison.


I found the following short video to be very informative. It is well worth taking a minute this weekend to watch it!  


Did you know the “I Have a Dream” speech was an impromptu deviation from King’s prepared remarks?

If you can, make this Monday “a day on, not a day off” and honor King with an act of community service.

Don't forget to stop back here tomorrow, to see where my “Saturday Spotlight” will shine.

Have a wonderful and safe weekend.

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  1. Great post Susan! I think that not only this country but the whole world is in a definite grieving process and remembering to be kind to each other and to help each other can go a very long way. I joined this blogger group I wanted to talk to you and Lana about but haven't had the chance yet. They are trying to get 1,000 bloggers to sign up and commit to write a post on 2/20 relating to compassion but it's a FB group and I didn't know if you would be interested or not if you are just email me.

    1. i am all for writing a post on compassion Rena! I will definitely be in touch to find out more about this campaign!

  2. Sorry but I found the link if you are interested.

  3. Awesome post!
    I know that sometimes the school kids get so wrapped up in it being a day off, that they might forget it's a holiday for a reason. It's important to always remember those reasons. Pinning this post. =0)

    1. Glad that you liked it Kim. I am still trying to decide what I will do to honor this day tomorrow.

  4. This is a great post Susan - I love how you combined the writing prompt with this interesting information! Dr. King has always been one of my inspirations. I often wonder about the good he could have done had he not been assassinated. Our high school encourages volunteer work on this day, so T will be out on Monday helping.

    1. I was wondering the same thing as I wrote this Lana. Such a waste to have his life cut so short. Good for T to be volunteering tomorrow. This is exam week, so I suspect my son will be studying most of the day.

  5. Excellent use of Delores' words - and a fine tribute to a fine man. We need more of him. Many more of him.

  6. I had absolutely no idea it was a deviation from the speech. Wow. Iconic off the cuff, 'eh? I am making this a longish weekend - have to attend a family funeral out of town and am also able to hook up with my daughter which is rather special.

    1. So sorry to hear about the funeral Kelly. I am glad you will be able to spend time with your daughter though. I was surprised also to learn the speech had not been much rehearsed!

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