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Entries in MLK (12)

Thursday
Sep062012

David Copperfield to Donate Rare MLK Recording to Civil Rights Museum

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) -- Famed illusionist David Copperfield has purchased a recently discovered recording of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., announcing that he intends to donate the recording to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn.

“Audio tapes of Dr. King are extremely rare,” according to collector Keya Morgan, who valued the tape at more than $100,000.

“For every 100 letters of his that are signed, you find maybe one original audio tape,” Morgan added. “It’s very rare. Audio tapes come up once every 20-30 years.”

Copperfield purchased the recording after hearing about it from Morgan, he told ABC News.

“I didn’t want it to be hoarded away,” he said, “but [instead wanted it to be] shared with people.”

“I’m always interested in historical items,” he added, “especially things that are magic-related, things that inspire me, especially.”

“My business is making people dream,” Copperfield said. “Dr. King made people dream of something vastly more important than anything an entertainer has ever done. … Dr. King’s form of dreaming and hope and thinking of things differently is extremely important with all the war and the hate in the world.”

The recording originally belonged to Stephon Tull, who found the reel, labeled “Dr. King interview, Dec. 21, 1960,” when he was cleaning out his father’s attic.

 On the tape, King discusses his view of the civil rights movement.

“I think the movement represents struggle on the highest level, dignity and discipline,” he said. “The thing that has impressed about the movement is the fact that they have followed means that grow out of the highest tradition of non-violence and peaceful message.”

King also spoke about his trip to Africa and the long-term historical importance of the civil rights movement.

“I’m convinced that in the history books written in future years, historians will have to record this movement as one of the greatest epics of our heritage,” he said.

Barbara Andrews, director of education and interpretation at the National Civil Rights Museum, told ABC News in a statement: “The donation of this recording to the museum offers the opportunity to hear from this civil rights giant one more time -- almost as though we are able to connect with him in the present again.  At the time of this recording, the world and the movement were at a crossroads: the teeming war in Vietnam helped to shape the evolving foci of Dr. King’s work.  On the one hand his attention was turned to the matter of economic justice and eradicating poverty while simultaneously pressing to move America’s moral compass toward human rights and away from the war effort on the other."

“This interview serves to humanize Dr. King and allows us to share in the concern and passion of that moment in a way that no written text could do,” the statement continued. “We are extremely grateful to … the Tulls, Dr. Winbush and Mr. Copperfield for choosing posterity over prosperity.”

But for Copperfield, the decision to donate it was obvious.

“Symbolically, it means something more important when people see it somewhere,” he told ABC News. “With magic, I can’t show what I have to the public in a mass. This is the exact opposite. You want people to see the root of what it is. … That’s where it belongs.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan172012

Obama Honors King with Call to Public Service

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama honored the life and work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Monday by issuing a call for public service, saying there is, “no better way to celebrate Dr. King than to do something on behalf of others.”

“At a time when the country has been going through some difficult economic times, for us to be able to come together as a community, people from all different walks of life, and make sure that we’re giving back, that’s ultimately what makes us the strongest, most extraordinary country on Earth, is because we pull together when times are good, but also when times are hard,” Obama told volunteers at the Browne Education Center in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he participated in a service project with his wife and daughter, Malia.

The president also reflected on King’s own words about public service and acknowledged the controversy surrounding a quote inscribed on the new MLK memorial on the National Mall, which is being changed after critics claimed King’s words were misrepresented.

“What he really said was that all of us can be a drum major for service, all of us can be a drum major for justice.  There’s nobody who can’t serve.  Nobody who can’t help somebody else,” the president said.

The paraphrased inscription reads: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”  The original quote, taken from a sermon delivered two months before King was assassinated in 1968, was far more modest. The quote is being changed, as critics claimed so abridging Dr. King's quote made it sound -- falsely -- like he was boasting.

“Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice.  Say that I was a drum major for peace.  I was a drum major for righteousness.  And all of the other shallow things will not matter,” King said.

After greeting other volunteers, the Obamas helped assemble a reading nook for pre-school students in the school library.  The president and first lady later painted two quotes from King on the walls surrounding the reading corner.

Standing on a stepladder with blue paint in hand, the president filled in the words, “The time is always right to do what is right,” while Mrs. Obama painted “I have a dream” on the adjacent wall.

Monday marked the third year in a row that the first family has participated in a service project to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan162012

King Center Releases Trove of Personal Notes on MLK Day

Tom Williams/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Visitors Monday commemorated the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at his memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., marking the first holiday at the site, which opened in August.

The King Center Monday also posted about 200,000 never-before-seen documents by the slain civil rights leader on its Web site. The documents are wide ranging and give a closer look into the portfolio of  one of the world’s most revered civil rights leaders. The online archive contains materials such as King’s transcript from Harvard University, his personal notes, telegrams to President John F. Kennedy and letters to and from Vice President Richard Nixon.

In a letter to Nixon, King describes the need for a sustained grassroots movement, a message that resonates even today.

“It is almost my firm conviction that the full effect of the Civil Rights Bill will depend in large degree upon the program of a sustained mass movement on the part of Negroes,” King wrote to Nixon Aug. 30, 1957. “History has demonstrated that inadequate legislation supported by mass action can accomplish more than adequate legislation which remains unenforced for the lack of a determined mass movement.”

The archives released Monday also include such personal notes as hate mail to King, calling African-Americans “savages” and accusing the Nobel Peace Prize recipient of winning the distinguished award only because he came from America.

The archives were financed and overseen by JP Morgan Chase, which built a team of more than 200 individuals for the project.

Meanwhile, President Obama and the first family commemorated King Monday with a service project at a local school. “There’s nobody who can’t serve,” the president told volunteers of the civil rights leaders’ legacy, adding that volunteering is the best to mark this holiday.

Civil rights leaders and federal officials Monday morning laid a wreath at King’s memorial to remember the leader.

The highlight of the $120 million project, led by the King Memorial Foundation, is a 30-foot tall sculpture of King inspired by his “I have a Dream” speech.

Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gave the National Park Service a 30-day deadline to fix an inscription that shortens one of the civil rights leaders’ sayings.

The inscription now reads: “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness.”

But King instead said: “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness.” The quote is from a sermon titled “The Drum Major Instinct” that 39-year-old King delivered two months before he was killed, discussing how he would want to be remembered.

Poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, a leading critic of the paraphrasing, has said that the out-of-context quote makes King sound like “an arrogant twit.”

“He had no arrogance at all. He had a humility that comes from deep inside,” she told the Washington Post last year. “The ‘if’ clause that is left out is salient. Leaving it out changes the meaning completely.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec202011

MLK Parade Plot: Washington Man Gets 32-Year Prison Sentence

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images(SPOKANE, Wash.) -- A Washington State man who pleaded guilty to planting a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade was sentenced to 32 years in prison Tuesday, despite an attempt to withdraw his guilty plea moments before sentencing.

Authorities say Kevin Harpham, 37, planted a bomb almost a year ago, setting it to blast shrapnel onto parade marchers, but it was discovered before it could be triggered.

Harpham has extensive ties to white supremacists.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep072011

Attempted Bomber of MLK Day Parade Pleads Guilty

Michael Ochs Archives(SPOKANE, Wash.) -- The Department of Justice announced that Kevin William Harpham, pleaded guilty Wednesday to the placement of an explosive device at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March in Spokane, Wash on Jan. 17.

Harpham was arrested on March 9 and charged with the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an explosive device. 

On Sept. 7,  Harpham pleaded guilty to two counts of a superseding indictment, and he was then charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempt to commit a federal hate crime. 

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March was attended by hundreds of individuals and the explosive device placed by Harpham was capable of inflicting serious injury or death to those in attendance.

The plea agreement calls for a sentence of between 27 and 32 years in prison.  It is subject to the district court’s review acceptance and determination of the final sentence and also calls for a lifetime term of court supervision after Harpham is released from prison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Maya Angelou Upset over MLK Memorial Inscription

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Poet Maya Angelou says the inscription on the newly unveiled Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial makes the civil rights leader look like an “arrogant twit.”

The official dedication to the memorial was postponed due to Hurricane Irene, but the monument on the National Mall is open to visitors.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Angelou took aim at the inscription, which reads “I was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness.”  The inscription paraphrases King’s famous comments delivered at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1968.

In February 1968, two months before he was killed, King said, “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice, say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness.  And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Angelou told the Washington Post Tuesday that the omission of “if” in the inscription changes the meaning of King’s words.

“The quote makes Dr. Martin Luther King look like an arrogant twit,” Angelou told the Washington Post.  “He was anything but that. He was far too profound a man for that four-letter word to apply.”

Angelou is a member of the memorial’s “Dream Team,” a group of celebrities who donated their resources and time to the memorial’s construction. She was also a personal friend of Dr. King.

“He had a humility that comes from deep inside. The ‘if’ clause that is left out is salient. Leaving it out changes the meaning completely,” she told the paper.

Angelou, 83, went on to say that the inscription “minimizes the man.” It is one of 14 quotes carved on the monument.

Emails to the King Center seeking comment about the memorial’s inscription were not returned.

The 30-foot-tall monument’s inspiration came from a line in King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered 48 years ago on the National Mall during the March on Washington: “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”

Visitors can walk to the main memorial through the “Mountain of Despair,” a large rock cut in two. At the center of the memorial stands the “Stone of Hope,” with a statue of King on the far side, overlooking the Tidal Basin. Encircling the monument are marble walls on which 14 of King’s most famous quotes from his speeches, sermons and writings are etched.

But missing from the quotes lining the memorial is his iconic “I Have a Dream” line. The architects say they chose to not include the line since so much of the memorial was already based on the speech, and they wanted to highlight his other celebrated passages.

The memorial was 15 years in the making, beginning with a resolution signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton to establish a memorial “honoring the life, the dream and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” on the National Mall.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug252011

Hurricane Irene Forces Postponement of MLK Dedication

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Organizers in charge of planning the Martin Luther King memorial dedication have postponed the event amid concerns about this weekend's severe weather forecasts. Thousands had already started arriving for this weekend's dedication of the memorial when the event was called off.

With public safety their first priority, organizers called off the ceremony just five hours after they said they were going ahead with Sunday's dedication, which was expected to attract up to 200,000 people.  

President Obama had been set to speak at the event, but forecasts of heavy rains and dangerous winds from Hurricane Irene have halted those plans.

Event organizers hope to reschedule the memorial's dedication in the next month or two.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Hurricane Irene Threatens MLK Memorial Dedication Ceremony

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Celebrations scheduled for Sunday to mark the opening of Martin Luther King, Jr's memorial on the National Mall in Washington D.C. are being threatened by Hurricane Irene, as it moves towards the Eastern seaboard.

Officials watching the storm now say it could threaten to postpone or delay the dedication ceremony.  The storm, currently a Category 2, could reach landfall in the U.S. by the end of the week.

But the skies were still blue over Washington Tuesday as visitors streamed into the Martin Luther King Memorial as it opened to the public for the first time ahead of Sunday's dedication ceremony.

Nearly 50 years after his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech on the National Mall, MLK Jr's memorial in Washington is joining some of America's most influential figures carved in stone there -- Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

Inspiration for the design came from a line in King's speech, which he delivered during the March on Washington: "Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope."

"King becomes the stone of hope, so it's designed to be that he himself, the man, the image of King emerges from that stone that comes from the mountain of despair," said Thomas Luebke, secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, a federal design review agency.

Visitors can walk to the main memorial through the "Mountain of Despair," a large rock cut in two.  At the center of the memorial stands the "Stone of Hope," with a statue of King on the far side, overlooking the Tidal Basin.  Encircling the monument are marble walls on which 14 of King's most famous quotes from his speeches, sermons and writings are etched.

But missing from the quotes lining the memorial is his iconic "I Have a Dream" line.  The architects say they chose to not include the line since so much of the memorial was already based on the speech, and they wanted to highlight his other celebrated passages.

The memorial was 15 years in the making, beginning with a resolution signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton to establish a memorial "honoring the life, the dream and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." on the National Mall.

The ceremonial groundbreaking for the memorial took place on Nov. 13, 2006, and the dedication is scheduled for Sunday, the 48th anniversary of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech, which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug222011

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Opens to Public

PRNewsFoto/MLK, Jr. Nat'l Memorial Project, Gediyon Kifle(WASHINGTON) -- In the early morning hours Monday, media from across the nation gathered for a first look at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington D.C.

National Park Service and memorial organizers welcomed the media to tour the space -- some of the first unfettered access to the memorial before it is accessible to the public Monday afternoon.

Upon entrance, visitors will approach the 'Mountain of Despair,' a large rock cut in two, through which they can walk to the main memorial. As the memorial opens in front of you, the 'Stone of Hope' stands at its center -- with a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on its far side, overlooking Washington, D.C.'s Tidal Basin.  Encircling the monument are marble walls on which 14 of King’s most famous quotes from his speeches, sermons, and writings are etched.

The nation's capital will be celebrating Dr. King, his legacy and leadership in the Civil Rights movement, and the new memorial all week. The memorial organization hosts luncheons on Wednesday and Thursday to honor Civil Rights pioneers as well as the Women Leaders of the Civil Rights movement.  Thursday evening brings “The Message in the Music,” a concert honoring the music of the Civil Rights Era.  Saturday evening is the Dream Gala, followed by the official Memorial dedication Sunday afternoon.  President Obama, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Dr. King’s family, and other key figures from the Civil Rights Era are all slated to speak at the dedication ceremony Sunday.

The memorial has been a 15-year endeavor -- beginning with a resolution signed in 1996 by President Bill Clinton to establish a memorial “honoring the life, the dream and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” on the National Mall.

The ceremonial groundbreaking for the memorial took place on Nov. 13, 2006.  This Sunday’s dedication marks the 48th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug162011

MLK Memorial Still $6 Million Shy of Reaching Goal, But Will Go as Planned

A master stone carver stands next to a panel where he has carved the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. in stone in Washington, D.C. The King Memorial is scheduled to be unveiled in late August. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Thousands of visitors will descend upon the National Mall in Washington, D.C. later this month to witness the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial -- a moment that has been 25 years in the making.

Event organizers have had to overcome a number of obstacles such as public criticism, and now one more stands in their way -- a $6 million hurdle.

"It's been an uphill battle all the way, but we are confident that we'll reach our goal," said Harry Johnson, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc.

The four-acre site, complete with a 28-foot high granite statue of King, stretches from the Tidal Basin to Independence Avenue, and sits between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials. It also comes with a $120 million price tag. So far, organizers have raised $114 million through private and public donations.

To reach its financial goal, the foundation has employed a number of grassroots strategies, such as children raising donations at school-based events.

Johnson says the foundation has raised $1.4 million in donations from churches and synagogues from all over the country. He added that people who believe in King's message have been donating $5 or $10 through the foundation's website, text messages and mail-in donation forms.

"The event is going to happen," Johnson said. "I'm positive. We like to think about the positive."

Aside from finances, the memorial drew criticism after the foundation asked Chinese artist Lei Yixin to design and construct the site. USA Today reported that the organizer's decision to choose an artist from outside of the U.S. and from a communist country was a point of contention for dissenters.

"Dr. King would have wanted us to pick the person who would do the best job regardless of the color," Johnson said. "He said it in his speeches that we should not judge a person by skin but the content of his character."

The memorial features numerous design elements, including a Stone of Hope, a Mountain of Despair and an inscription wall. Stone of Hope and Mountain of Despair are plays on a line from King's famous "I Have a Dream Speech," during which he said, "We shall hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope."

The 14 quotes adorning the inscription wall come from some of King's most famous speeches. Johnson said the four central tenets of King -- love, hope, justice and democracy -- were the deciding factors on which quotes made the wall, and the positive quotes will ensure the "living memorial will live on to eternity."

"This will mean something to all people in general regardless of their color," he said. "No gender or race is mentioned in the quotes."

The commemorative site will be the first on the National Mall to honor a person who was not a president or a soldier. This will also be the first time a person of color will be honored with a statue at the D.C. site.

The unveiling event scheduled for Aug. 28 will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the March on Washington and King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The event is expected to feature musical performances by a number of entertainers, including singer Smokey Robinson.

Some Interesting Facts About the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial:

The address of the memorial is 1964 Independence Avenue. 1964 is the year President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law.

King's memorial statue is located near the cherry trees on the National Mall, which coincidentally bloom each year around the week King was assassinated.

The Aug. 28 dedication is exactly three years to the day of President Barack Obama's acceptance of the Democratic nomination. The White House announced on Aug. 4 that the president will speak at the unveiling. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is also scheduled to attend.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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