www.whyville.net Jan 23, 2011 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Martin Luther King Jr. has now been dead longer than he lived. But what an extraordinary life it was. At 33, he was pressing the case of civil rights with President John Kennedy. At 34, mesmerized the nation with his "I Have a Dream" speech. At 35, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. At 39, he was assassinated, but he left a legacy of hope and inspiration that continues today.

This man touched the lives of many people. He is the reason I have friends of different races in school. If he was still alive, he would be 82. Sadly, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968.

Though his life ended violently, King was a man of peace. Using nonviolent means, King was able to change a nation and change history. Most of you might know the phrase 'I Have a Dream' which was Reverend Martin's most famous speech, in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. The speech was given in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, honoring President Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Southern states. By giving his speech there, King was wanting to call attention to how things were so terrible a century before (during the Civil War) and how some things hadn't changed so very much in 100 years.

It brought Martin Luther King and his message of non-violence to a nationwide (and worldwide) audience. The speech was carried on radio and was reprinted in newspapers and magazines all over the United States and all over the world. After this speech, the name Martin Luther King was known to many more people than before.

My grandma was just a 10 year old girl when he gave his 17-minute long speech. She has it memorized. But he didn't do it for the publicity, he did it for his 4 children. He said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." People from all over the world walked miles, and rode their bikes just to hear him talk. He had a big impact on people, not just people in the southwest, but all over America.

Nowadays there is still racism, but because of people like him there is much less. And that's why, on January 17th we had a day off of school, to celebrate the hope Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. left behind.


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