Well . . . there’s one thing to say for sure. I had a Christmas break! I haven’t written a post since Christmas Eve, but I absolutely had to today. And that’s because it’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Day! If you haven’t heard of MLK Jr., you must have been living under a rock since August 28, 1963, which is when the peace coordinator presented his wildly famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Though MLK Jr. Day should be celebrated on January 15, which is the date that his birthday falls on, United States citizens always host it on the third Monday of January, which is really nice for me since that’s a school day and I almost always get at least a half-day (if not a full day) off to write this post. 🙂 Yes, I know . . . genius!
Every year that I’ve had this website, I believe I’ve written an MLK post. However, last year in 2019 . . . it was HORRID! TERRIBLE AND GRUESOME! WHY, WHY, WHY?! Last year I couldn’t post my MLK article because . . . MY OLD PLANET WHIZ KID WEBSITE HAD CRASHED!
But here I am today with my new and improved website . . . hopefully. As of this moment, I can’t login. Not again!
Before I move onto MLK’s defining civil rights movements, I wanna talk a bit about the movie stuff first.
As for the box office, I was a little depressed when I looked at it. In first place is the newly released film Bad Boys for Life, and the runner-ups are 1917 in second (no doubt because of its Oscar nominations) and Dolittle in third. Unfortunately, Robert Downey Jr.’s Dolittle flopped horribly review-wise, with just 19% on Rotten Tomatoes. Too bad for the awesome cast (RDJ, Antonio Banderas, Emma Thompson, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Jim Broadbent, Michael Sheen, Ralph Fiennes, Octavia Spencer, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, and Selena Gomez). Wow. That sounds like the modern version of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Anyway, in fourth is Jumanji: The Next Level, which slightly bums me out since I wanted Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to be higher, as it’s next in fifth place. Little Women is in sixth, also possibly because of the few Oscar nominations it received.
Speaking of, the Oscar nominations were released last Monday. There were a few snubs and surprises I wasn’t expecting, but that’s for another post. Also for another post is my yet-to-come review of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
And finally, I know this isn’t a personal diary, but I wanted to mention the play that I’m assistant directing currently: Ken Ludwig’s hit farce Lend Me a Tenor. I highly suggest you read this show or see it if it’s playing somewhere near you. It’s about the chaos that ensues when a small theater business called the Cleveland Grand Opera Company and manager Henry Saunders invite the world-renowned Italian opera star Tito Merelli to come sing the role of Pagliacci the Clown of Tragedy one night only at their venue. Through a series of mishaps, Tito (also known as Il Stupendo to his fans) is given way too many drugs and seemingly dies. Saunders, distraught, forces his assistant Max to take his place onstage. Max is now running around with everyone, including two women who vie for his passionate love, thinking he is Tito Merelli. Will things go horribly wrong, or can Max save the day with help from Saunders? Knowing that the show is written by Ken Ludwig and is a farce, I think we know the answer. However, yet again, a full discussion on the show should be left for another post and another day.
Now moving on to our star in today’s post: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.!
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. Growing up in the south introduced serious problems for MLK. With tons of hate and violence towards African Americans building up each day, King probably didn’t have the best childhood. King grew up to become a Baptist pastor just like his dad. In 1953, King married Coretta Scott, and they had four children together: Yolanda King (1955-2007), Martin Luther King III (1957), Dexter Scott King (1961), and Bernice King (1963). In 1955, the year Yolanda was born, Claudette Colvin, an African American fifteen-year-old living in Montgomery, refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, which broke the Jim Crow Laws – laws put in place for racial segregation. However, you may be wondering: I thought that was Rosa Parks? Well, she did basically the same thing in December of the same year. Unfortunately, Claudette doesn’t receive much credit for her bold move. However, Parks does, so if you research enough about her you may be able to find more information on Claudette.
When Parks refused to give up her bus seat, the Montgomery Bus Boycott started, in which MLK and Parks both were public figures at the time. Both Parks and MLK were arrested, and MLK’s house was even bombed! Fortunately, no one in the house was killed or even injured. Throughout the late fifties and early sixties, more boycotts, campaigns, and movements took place, in which MLK was arrested multiple times for organizing peaceful riots (sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?). There were some African American extremists who attacked white policemen as well as white citizens. MLK made sure that his voice was heard in that he wanted PEACE, not violence.
In 1963, the big one came. The March on Washington, which took place in Washington, D.C., not Washington state. By this time, King had received the approval and support of President John F. Kennedy, which was somewhat controversial at the time. In this march, over 250,000 people, white and black, gathered to listen to MLK’s most famous and possibly most well-written speech, “I Have a Dream”. After this, more peace riots continued with the marches on Selma, Chicago, and more. In 1964, Dr. King (who had a P.h.D., by the way) was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, much to both the support and dismay of many Americans.
In 1968, Dr. King began the Poor People’s Campaign, which didn’t focus so much on racial segregation, but rather the problems that could be avoided in the situation of homeless or poor people. On April 3 of the same year, Dr. King stayed at the Lorraine Motel after delivering a Christian speech titled “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”. King was with a few of his friends, including pastor Ralph Abernathy, when he was in his suite. He was on the balcony at 6:01 P.M., April 4, 1968, when he was fatally shot and killed by James Earl Ray.
No one really knows what sort of insane hate drove Ray to actually kill Dr. King. He was sentenced to a ninety-nine year sentence in jail, and died in 1998 at age seventy. According to Jesse Jackson, MLK’s last words (before his assassination, at least) were to musician Ben Branch: “Ben, make sure you play ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.”
There are still to this day conspiracy theories about Dr. King’s assassination and James Earl Ray, such as with the assassination of President Kennedy, which took place five years earlier in 1963. Ray may have been a scapegoat and confessed because he was threatened with death. In 2002, Reverend Ronald Wilson claimed that his father Henry Wilson assassinated King because “he thought [King] was connected with communism”. Of course, Ray may not have acted alone. Even Dr. King’s friend James Bevel doesn’t think so. No one will ever know the truth, I guess!
Well, there’s my Martin Luther King, Jr. Day post. It didn’t really turn out to be a “quick” one, but it works. Be sure to comment on your thoughts about MLK’s life, and also share a fun fact or two about him! I didn’t get all the details into my short bio on him, so feel free to add! Also, please check out my Whiz Kid Awards: Christmas Edition post, as I need a lot more people commenting to vote for something. What is “something”? Read the post and find out! Be sure to share that post with friends and family, or anyone you think would enjoy it!
Thanks for reading, and have a great rest of your MLK Jr. Day!
Whiz Kid out