President Lincoln and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Oval Office

August 28, 2013

I remember, just a year ago, when the GOP candidate for president promised to make this photo impossible, replacing King with an Englishman.

150 years later, 50 years later, change gotta come, still.

A better version of the photo:

Painting of Abraham Lincoln, bust of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., together in the Oval Office, White House. (Pete Souza photo?)

Painting of Abraham Lincoln, bust of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., together in the Oval Office, White House. (Pete Souza photo?) Photo published on August 28, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Oval office, Martin Luther King, March on Washington, Abraham Lincoln


Vivid imagination at the Anti-Defamation League

March 21, 2013

Students of history will notice inaccuracies in this video right away.

They are dreams, an imagining of the great “if only.”

Santayana’s Ghost looks on, hoping we’ll get the message, remember history, and act accordingly.

“Imagine a World Without Hate,” from the ADL.

Join ADL in our Centennial Year as we Imagine a World Without Hate™, one where the hate crimes against Martin Luther King, Anne Frank, Matthew Shepard and others did not take place. Support us in the fight against bigotry and extremism by sharing this inspirational video and taking the pledge to create a world without hate at

Imagine a World Without Hate™. We Do. Join Us.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Pat Carrithers and Upworthy.  Pat writes in to remind us of the great John Greenleaf Whittier poem, “Maud Muller”:

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”


English: Photo of American poet John Greenleaf...

American poet John Greenleaf Whittier’s study at his home in Amesbury, Massachusetts. Scanned from The Works of John Greenleaf Whittier: illustrated with steel portraits and photogravures by John Greenleaf Whittier, edited by Elizabeth Hussey Whittier. Published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1892. Item notes: v. 7 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writing down the history: NAACP wants your story about Dr. King

January 20, 2013

I get earnest, interesting e-mail, too.  Ben Jealous from the NAACP wrote today:



Tomorrow, we pay homage to one of America’s most righteous defenders and promoters of civil and human rights: the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King was an incredible man who changed the course of American history. He inspired millions to stand up in peaceful protest against discriminatory laws and fought for the greater good of all humanity.

Dr. King’s spirit lives on. After his assassination, millions of people picked up the torch and continued to fight for a better future, carrying our shared movement for social justice into the present day.

To celebrate his life and legacy, we’d like to hear from you. Tell us how Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. impacted your life and your work.

Did you take part in marches, rallies, and activist work in the 1950s and 1960s? Tell us about it. Have you heard stories about friends or family members who marched with or met Dr. King? We want to hear them.

And if, like me, you weren’t yet born in the 1960s, we want to hear from you, too. Tell us how Dr. King’s work and message has inspired you to fight for civil and human rights today.

Together, we can build a portrait of the impact Dr. King has had on NAACP supporters and America at large. I hope you’ll help us by sharing your story today:

Thank you,

Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO

Crowd-sourcing history.  Great idea.  I hope they get a great product.  Why don’t you contribute?


English: Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Mar...

Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (ca. 1955) Mrs. Rosa Parks altered the negro progress in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, by the bus boycott she unwillingly began. Photo from the U.S. National Archives record ID: 306-PSD-65-1882 (Box 93). Source: Ebony Magazine, via Wikipedia

51 years they’ve pursued this woman who marched with Dr. King . . .

May 6, 2012

. . . and now they’ve figured out how to keep her from voting:  A “voter I.D. law” in Pennsylvania.  Viviette Applewhite is suing to keep her right to vote.

From the website of ACLU of Pennsylvania:

On May 1, 2012, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Advancement Project, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP), and the Washington, DC law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP filed a lawsuit in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania to overturn the voter ID law passed by the General Assembly in March 2012.

The lawsuit alleges that the state’s voter photo ID law violates the Pennsylvania Constitution by depriving citizens of their most fundamental constitutional right – the right to vote. The plaintiffs are asking the Commonwealth Court to issue an injunction blocking enforcement of the law before November’s election. If the law is not overturned, most of the plaintiffs will be unable to cast ballots in the fall, despite the fact that many of them have voted regularly for decades.

Voter identification laws passed through several legislatures in the past half decade frequently cause more voters to lose their voting privileges than frauds prevented.  While there is no evidence of significant voter fraud caused by someone stealing another’s identity to vote — the only voter fraud voter identification laws is aimed at — there are thousands, or tens of thousands of people in every state where these laws are passed who cannot get suitable identification papers to vote.

Although these citizens often are long-time voters, good citizen parents who have raised outstanding children and performed their civic duties thr0ughout their lives, they often lack the technically picky identity documents to get a voter identification card.  Their stories are not unique, but surprisingly common, shared by millions of Americans:

  • Many were born outside hospitals, and lack birth certificates.  Though no one doubts their life history, the voter laws do not allow usual forms of identification to get a voter card.  These people can get credit cards, can buy and sell property, and can cash checks in their towns.  But the identification used to secure financial transactions do not satisfy the voter identification laws.
  • A significant portion of these people are simply elderly, and gave up driving.  Consequently they lack a current drivers license.  Clearly they cannot get a new drivers license, but they also cannot get a voter identification card without great effort, sometimes without great cost, and almost always, in time to vote in this year’s elections.
  • In Texas, the now-stayed-by-a-federal-court voter ID law allows a handgun license to be used as identification, but not a photo identification from a state college or university.  Among other arguments the courts found convincing in staying the law, in 81 of Texas’s 254 counties, there is no office of any state agency that can issue an accepted voter identification card.  In other words, in a third of Texas counties, it’s impossible to get a valid voter identification card if you don’t already have one.
  • (Updated; see comments) Young people — students, soldiers at basic training, high school graduates still living at home to save money while working to make money — frequently cannot produce the documentation the voter identification laws ask for, like a utility bill in their name.  See the story at Radula, where Dorid discusses one state’s rejecting another state’s birth certificates (as if we hadn’t known that would happen . . .) and other problems; young voters don’t vote as they should, and now we know many who want to vote, will probably be denied.

Meanwhile, from time to time a real case of voter fraud shows up.  I have yet to find one that could have been prevented by voter identification laws.

How many of the voter identification laws were drafted in the smoke-filled, alcohol-laced backrooms of ALEC conferences?


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SMU’s Martin Luther King Week

January 22, 2008

Southern Methodist University celebrates the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., all week long.

MLK talks with reporters at SMY, 3-17-1966

SMU has about an hour of tape of a speech Dr. King delivered at SMU in 1966. While the speech is not particularly noteworthy, it’s a good example of King’s rhetoric of the time. You can put it on your iPod.

It’s interesting SMU has made it available on-line, the first time the recording has been made available. Teachers will also want to check out the clip from the campus newspaper for DBQ questions, and printed excerpts from the speech.

It’s a real period piece — King in a southern, formerly segregated town, so soon after the Voting Rights Act. Real history, real people. Very interesting.

Photo of King speaking at SMU SMU has activities running all week long. Things change in 40 years.

(Check out the socks and ties of the men on stage — and where are the women?)

  • Photos from SMU, from the archives of the campus newspaper, The SMU Campus.

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