Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr

12 Historic Facts About Martin Luther King Jr.


Monday, January 16, marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the federal date of recognition for one of the most important figures in the civil rights movement. Signed by President Reagan in 1983, the holiday marked the culmination of efforts that started just four days after King’s assassination in 1968, when Representative John Conyers of Michigan began 15 years of introducing and reintroducing a bill to establish the holiday. (Stevie Wonder joined the chorus of Americans backing Conyers’ efforts; in 1980 he wrote the song “Happy Birthday” to help create a groundswell of support.)

While it would be impossible to encompass everything King accomplished in a mere list, we’ve compiled a few intriguing facts that may pique your interest in finding out more about the man who helped unite a divided nation.


One of the most recognizable proper names of the 20th century wasn’t actually what was on the birth certificate. The future civil rights leader was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929, named after his father Michael King. When the younger King was 5 years old, his father decided to change both their names after learning more about 16th century theologian Martin Luther, who was one of the key figures of the Protestant Reformation. Inspired by that battle, Michael King soon began referring to himself and his son as Martin Luther King.


Using the prefix “doctor” to refer to King has become a reflex, but not everyone is aware of the origin of King’s Ph.D. He attended Boston University and graduated in 1955 with a doctorate in systematic theology. King also had a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Morehouse College and a Bachelor of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary.


Dr. King leading a march from Selma, Alabama to its capital, Montgomery, in March 1965. Getty

A powerful voice for an ignored and suppressed minority, opponents tried to silence King the old-fashioned way: incarceration. In the 12 years he spent as the recognized leader of the civil rights movement, King was arrested and jailed 30 times. Rather than brood, King used the unsolicited downtime to further his cause. Jailed in Birmingham for eight days in 1963, he penned “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” a long treatise responding to the oppression supported by white religious leaders in the South.

“I’m afraid that it is much too long to take your precious time,” he wrote. “I can assure you that it would have been much shorter if I had been writing from a comfortable desk, but what else is there to do when you are alone for days in the dull monotony of a narrow jail cell other than write long letters, think strange thoughts, and pray long prayers?”


King’s increasing prominence and influence agitated many of his enemies, but few were more powerful than FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. For years, Hoover kept King under surveillance, worried that this subversive could sway public opinion against the bureau and fretting that King might have Communist ties. While there’s still debate about how independently Hoover’s deputy William Sullivan was acting, an anonymous letter was sent to King in 1964 accusing him of extramarital affairs and threatening to disclose his indiscretions. The only solution, the letter suggested, would be for King to exit the civil rights movement, either willingly or by taking his own life. King ignored the threat and continued his work.


Our collective memory of King always has an unfortunate addendum: his 1968 assassination that brought an end to his personal crusade against social injustice. But if Izola Ware Curry had her way, King’s mission would have ended 10 years earlier. At a Harlem book signing in 1958, Ware approached King and plunged a seven-inch letter opener into his chest, nearly puncturing his aorta. Surgery was needed to remove it. Had King so much as sneezed, doctors said, the wound was so close to his heart that it would have been fatal.  Curry, a 42-year-old black woman, was having paranoid delusions about the NAACP that soon crystallized around King. She was committed to an institution and died in 2015.


King’s promise as one of the great orators of his time was late in coming. While attending Crozer Theological Seminary between 1948 to 1951, King’s marks were diluted by C and C+ grades in two terms of public speaking.


At the 13th annual Grammy Awards in 1971, a recording of King’s 1967 address, “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam,” took home a posthumous award for Best Spoken Word recording. In 2012, his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame (it was included decades later because its 1969 nomination was beaten for the Spoken Word prize by Rod McKuen’s “Lonesome Cities”).


It’s not easy to imagine King having the time or inclination to sit down and watch primetime sci-fi on television, but according to actress Nichelle Nichols, King and his family made an exception for Star Trek. In 1967, the actress met King, who told her he was a big fan and urged her to reconsider her decision to leave the show to perform on Broadway. “My family are your greatest fans,” Nichols recalled King telling her, and said he continued with, “As a matter of fact, this is the only show on television that my wife Coretta and I will allow our little children to watch, to stay up and watch because it’s on past their bedtime.” Nichols’ character of Lt. Uhura, he said, was important because she was a strong, professional black woman. If Nichols left, King noted, the character could be replaced by anyone, since “[Uhura] is not a black role. And it’s not a female role.” Based on their talk, Nichols decided to remain on the show for the duration of its three-season original run.


Circa 1956. Getty.

When King married his wife, Coretta, in her father’s backyard in 1953, there was virtually no hotel in Marion, Alabama that would welcome a newlywed black couple. A friend of Coretta’s happened to be an undertaker, and invited the Kings into one of the guest rooms at his funeral parlor.


Despite King’s undeniable worthiness, MLK Day was not a foregone conclusion. In the early 1980s, President Ronald Reagan largely ignored pleas to pass legislation making the holiday official out of the concern it would open the door for other minority groups to demand their own holidays; Senator Jesse Helms complained that the missed workday could cost the country $12 billion in lost productivity, and both were concerned about King’s possible Communist sympathies. Common sense prevailed, and the bill was signed into law on November 2, 1983. The holiday officially began being recognized in January 1986.


In 2016, the U.S. Treasury announced plans to overhaul major denominations of currency beginning in 2020. Along with Harriet Tubman adorning the $20 bill, plans call for the reverse side of the $5 Lincoln-stamped bill to commemorate “historic events that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial” including King’s famous 1963 speech..


King’s 1963 oration from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, known as the “I Have a Dream” speech, will always be remembered as one of the most provocative public addresses ever given. George Raveling, who was 26 at the time, had volunteered to help King and his team during the event. When it was over, Raveling sheepishly asked King for the copy of the three-page speech. King handed it over without hesitation; Raveling kept it for the next 20 years before he fully understood its historical significance and removed it from the book he had been storing it in.

He’s turned down offers of up to $3.5 million, insisting that the document will remain in his family—always noting that the most famous passage, where King details his dream of a united nation, isn’t on the sheet. It was improvised.

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Black Lives Matter names

                                                                                       Martin Luther King Jr.                     
                                                          Martin Luther King Jr. speaking to American people

Martin Luther King Day

I started thinking about Martin Luther King Day last night and I had just started a biography of Sojourner Truth, a female slave who left a mark on her world and America. There is a play about her called: God and a Woman.


MLK’s speech, “I had a dream” was equivalent to the Gettysburg Address.  I think that if he were alive today he would give a new speech, maybe even stronger than his original, amazing words.


I think he would continue to decry the racism that still exists. He would exhort us to insist on equality for everyone, no matter what their race, religion or lack of one, education, economic status, or perceived or actual disability.


I think he would be speaking out for progressive ideas and working hard to get Congress to do their jobs. I think he would have a lot to say about all of the fighting in the House and Senate. It is a shame he is not here to raise that thundering voice for the people of America. He was a great man. A man I respect enormously.


I know that I have a dream today, and I do think that Martin Luther King would approve.


I dream that we can Stop the War on Women. I dream that we can Stop Violence in the Home. I dream that we can make sure every child has a good education. I dream that we can stop banks and other lending facilities from gouging students on their student loan payments.


I dream that  No means No and that all rapists or molesters will be punished as severely as if they had committed murder. Because  rape is a sort of murder:  it kills a victim’s life and sense of safety and is a horrible violation that changes the victim’s life forever.


I dream that all countries take in refugees and treat them with respect and care for their needs. We have done it before, when the refugee could have been looking to do America harm. But we took in the Jews, Poles, Gypsies and refugees from other countries. Jihad is a war. We need to respond to those who are homeless, stateless, hungry and in need of clothes and food.  One country cannot do it all but if we were to work together, there would be much less suffering for those on the run.


I think Martin Luther King would agree with these thoughts and he would say it much better than I can. But he isn’t here to do that, because those who were small-minded and threatened by a black man saying courageous things stopped him in the most final and violent way possible. So we must say it, on his behalf and on behalf of everyone else who cannot speak for themselves.


We must have a dream where every person receives equality and justice. MLK would be so upset about the mass murders and cops killing black people and Asian people and Hispanic people and yes even Caucasian people.


I believe if we work together we can make his dreams come true. We can create the world he envisioned. We can take care of each other and feel a responsibility for other people. We can stand shoulder to shoulder with each other and with his memory to make this world just, equal and peaceful for all people and countries.







Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

A Holy Day

Today, is the holiest day in the Jewish year. It is a day for assessing oneself and how we are doing living our lives. Adonai gave the ten commandments, but he had other acts in mind that he/she didn’t want people to do. Tonight, begins the high holy day, Yom Kippur. Jews worldwide will be in temple or their homes and they will be honestly looking inside of their hearts and souls.


On Yon Kippur, it is said that the names of those who will live through the New Year will be written into the book of life for another year. Wrong doing or sin, is looked at personally and as a community.


I like this concept that the community can sin as a whole and we all share responsibility. So what kinds of things is he/she talking about?


Assumed the worst in others and the best of ourselves.

Betrayed the trust others have placed in us.

Confused that which is essential with that which is not,

Destroyed ourselves with needless abuses,

Enjoyed the downfall of our adversaries with glee.

Felt superior to others by means of ability, wealth or power.

Given less than our full selves to our community and our world.

Hastened to decry responsibility for our own actions,

Instigated animosity among others,

Junked our world with trash, showing no retard for the environment.

Kindled misplaced passions.

Lied to cover our vanities.

Missed opportunities to better ourselves.

Negated the validity of others in an effort to aggrandize ourselves,

Observed persons in need, and ignored what we saw.

Perverted the blessings of our lives into dangerous obsessions and mere possessions.

Quietly slipped into lived defined by moral decay,

Refused ourselves and other our love.

Seduced ourselves with the lie that “no one is going to get hurt.”

Trivialized the power we represent in God’s Universe.

Unleashed hurtful words.

Valued strangers more than our family and friends.

Wished ill upon others,

Xeroxed in violation of copyright and trademark.

Yielded to temptation.

Zestfully pursued happiness to the exclusion of goodness.

—Rabbi David Greenspoon and Steve Kerbel



A Prayer For Peace


Let us live in peace, God.

Let children live in peace, in homes free from brutality and abuse.

Let them go to school in peace, free from violence and fear.

Let them play in peace, God, in safe parks, in safe neighborhoods; watch over them.

Let husbands and wives love in peace, in marriages free from cruelty.

Let men and women work in peace, with no fears of terror or bloodshed.

Let us travel in peace; protect is, God, in the air, on the seas, along whatever road we take.

Let nations dwell together in peace, without the threat of war hovering over them.

Help us, God. Teach all people of all races and faiths, in all the countries all over the world to believe that the peace that seems so far off is in fact within our reach.

Let us all live in peace, God. And let us say, Amen.

—Rabbi Naomi Levy






Jewish holy day

Jewish holy day

America the Beautiful






America the Beautiful

Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man’s avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!







laborday ribbon wreath


A Mother’s Day Tribute to Mother’s Everywhere

Joan Papalia Eisert has a B.A. in English from Gannon University. Over the past thirty-six years she has had numerous poems published in small press magazines, newspaper articles, on the Internet, and in Daystar Productions. Two of her poems earned blue ribbons, and one was awarded the Editor’s Choice Award (Sulfur and Sawdust, Scars Publications). Joan’s poetry has also been used in English classes, prison ministry, and various outreach missions. Her first chapbook of poetry, Flat Days was published in 1996. She has read her work at several poetry venues including: Chautauqua Institution (Chautauqua, NY), Erie Book Store, Uncrowned Queens of Western New York’s poetry reading (Buffalo, NY), Mt. St. Benedict (Erie, PA), Maria House Projects’ Diocesan Lodge (West Spring Creek, PA), poetry reading venues in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, and Authors Books and Music (Warren, PA). Joan’s poetry will be published in the premier issue of Mending Reality, and she is currently working on her latest poetry collection, Fluency.
Joan taught a Poetry/Creative Writing class at the Maria House Projects’ Diocesan Lodge in West Spring Creek, PA for 10 years. The Maria House Projects provide homes for troubled men who are in need of community for healing. They include alcoholics, drug addicts, men deeply disturbed emotionally, and men suffering from the effects of homelessness and imprisonment. Joan uses creative writing to help the residents heal through artistic expression. She is publisher/editor of ten volumes of For Pete’s Sake, which are the class’ literary collections.
Joan is also an accomplished singer, performing professional since 1971 starting out as a soloist. She was taught voice by Mary Jane Gregan, and extraordinary vocalist herself, from Edinboro, PA. Joan is half of the duo, Fire and Ice (with her husband Paul), now in their 32nd year of performing together, and she sang in the band, Daystar, for seven years.

March 9th 2010 (for Mom)

Her richly variegated eyes of brown and struggle
dilating in graceful homage
to the rays of this tender
early, ubiquitous sun
on this day of fragile yielding
to the promise of coming warmth
soothing like the balm in Gilead

In this golden spectrum
of such a fleeting moment
our love glistens
amid the brilliant gushings of

A Backyard Day

Reminiscent of my mother’s sheets
looking lonely on the line
when September was too warm
and we were gone
has my sweet caramel daughter
nibbling an apple in her wading pool
each look a book
while I’m clinging to the buzz and flutter
of this August afternoon

She’ll be gone before I know it
like my shadow
in this particular sun

A Warm Day in March

kissing the cat
curled beneath the breath
of tide laundered sheets
no noise today
conjures me returning to the upstairs
of her house
on one of those days
she’d gone to the market
with my mother
her bedroom first
to finger the jewelry and rosary beads
on the mirrored filigree tray
displayed on the dresser
across from the wall-wide closet
with drawers and drawers
full of leather purses
and shoes and shoes and shoes
rich syrupy savory leather shoes

look and touch
look and inhale
then pad to the bathroom
i’d already passed
at the top of the stairs
her aroma greets and lingers
staying awhile
in that small stuffed room
absorbing the tub tucked underneath
the glass block window
oscillating low afternoon rays
the trolley crowded with perfumes
atomizers soaps creams lipsticks
custom-blended foundations
and me me in the medicine chest mirror
melting into a delicious bouquet of the illusion
that I matter


You gave me an aluminum pot
with a wooden grip in the
middle of its wooden handle
And there’s a small metal
grip on one side to hold onto
while pouring
And most clever of all
there’s a little section of the
pot’s lid that’s perforated for
straining or releasing steam
and even these efficient
clustered holes have their
own hinged cover
Jesus– all in one pot

You tell me you have two
of these pots
You got this one
a long time ago
For my pasta and my potatoes
you tell me

You tell me you never had
such a nice pot
“They no maka them lika
thees no more”

You tell me one day this summer
I can help you clean
Who knows what we’ll find

Good Friday (for Mom)

My mother
faithful mother
anointed, sensitive

Encouraging mother
loving mother
taking me with her

Shepherding mother
complicated mother
fearing no evil, no shadow of death

Suffering mother
gifted mother
conflicted, compassionate

Generous mother
Mary’s daughter
Christ’s sister
My mother

Joannie is a published peot and a very dear freind. I am honored to share her work. These poems are in loving memory of her Mother, Valda Papalia and Mary Ann Eisert,  her mother in law. I thank you Joannie for sharing this day and your memories with my readers.  May The Beloved bless all the Mothers and Grandmothers that are no longer with us in this life.


All Mother’s on this Planet Have a Day Even if They Aren’t Aware of it.

One Woman, One World, One Family, unending love.

One Woman, One World, One Family, unending love.

Mother’s Day is huge here in America .This is nice. Flowers, candy, going out to dinner, a new plant for the garden. These make up an American Mother’s Day. I would like to remind you that Mothers are in every country and being  a Mother is quite different than it is here.

Mothers in other countries don’t have a day or even an hour where they feel especially loved and appreciated. Mother’s in other countries face tragedies we never even can imagine. Many mothers continue to die in childbirth, many mothers don’t have milk to feed their babies. Many mothers can’t dress their babies up really cute because there are only rags to dress them in. I guarantee you that some mothers, on the American holiday, will be watching their babies die of starvation and diseases such as Malaria.

Most of the mothers around the world will be required to leave a girl baby by the side of the road because of misogyny and some are trying to heal the faces of daughters whose boyfriend threw acid in their face because they turned down a marriage proposal. The boy throws acid in her face so no one else will want her. This is classic power and control. Some mothers will be assisting a medicine woman to hold down her daughter so genital mutilation can occur just like what was done to her. In some countries, if a girl has not had this done, no one will marry her.

Why is all of this happening?  It is because women and girls are second class citizens and have no rights and no power to protect them legally in the systemThey are owned, used, punished, tormented and often killed.
My request is that from now through Sunday you would all pray for the mothers around the world. Pray for them to be protected, pray for healing and food, pray for an end to human traffakking. Please pray that some day millions of women around the world will understand that mother is a term of  love, support and pride. Pray that a year will come when all women will be able to hold their heads up and walk with pride and dignity.

National Organization of Women

National Organization of Women

Hug someone today and everyday

Hug someone today and everyday

Mothers unite to help each other and the children. Make Mother's Day really mean something to a mother somewhere in the world..

Mothers unite to help each other and the children. Make Mother’s Day really mean something to a mother somewhere in the world..