Martin Luther King Jr, born 15th January 1929, was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most well-known leader of the American civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s.
Born Michael King Jr, his father later changed his son’s name to honor the memory of the German Protestant leader, Martin Luther.
MLK, as he became known, was a firm believer in nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his religious beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. He participated in and led marches against racial discrimination and segregation for voting rights, labour rights, schooling and other basic civil rights.
MLK first rose to prominence during the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott when Rosa Parks an African American woman refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. The boycott lasted more than a year and finally the United States Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery segregation laws were unconstitutional. MLK later became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and he helped organize some of the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. His most successful action was the People’s March in 1963 when he led the march on Washington, where 20,000 people heard him deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He spoke of his dream in which the sons and daughters of white slave owners and black slaves would be brothers and sisters living in peace.
Through his non-violent methods he gained much public support for the civil rights demands which resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, authorizing the federal government to enforce desegregation of public accommodations and outlawing discrimination in publicly owned facilities, as well as in employment.
On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize two of the three Selma to Montgomery marches whose aim was to register black voters in the South. The marchers encountered deadly violence from the authorities but eventually the Voting Rights Bill of 1965 was passed giving equal rights to all citizens regardless of the colour of their skin.
Although MLK was lauded worldwide for his nonviolent methods to oppression he did face opposition from more radical leaders such as Malcolm X.
Later in life MLK expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty, capitalism, and the Vietnam War. In 1968, MLK was planning a national occupation of Washington DC to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots erupted in many US cities following his death. His presumed assassin, James Earl Ray, insisted he had been framed by the FBI for the murder.
Martin Luther King Jr was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
Martin Luther King Jr Day was created a national holiday in 1986 and is celebrated on the 3rd Monday of January.
Only 2 other people have national days in their honor; George Washington (3rd Monday of February) and Christopher Columbus (2nd Monday of October)….. but that’s another story !
Learning a new language can seem all about memory; how on earth am I going to remember all these new words? Apart from the skills of listening, repeating and practice you can also try handwriting and drawing new words. Living in the 21st century the computer keyboard tends to be our “go to method”, but did you know that you can improve your language learning by handwriting new vocabulary?
Studies have shown that using a pen or pencil activates more areas of your brain than a keyboard does.
In a recent study (i) 12 adults and 12 seventh-graders were each asked to write and draw with a digital pen. Each person was also asked to type on a keyboard. While performing these tasks, each volunteer wore a cap that held electrodes next to their head. The results showed that writing turned on memory areas in the brain whereas typing didn’t. Drawing images also turned on parts of the brain involved with learning. These new findings back up other studies showing the benefits of handwriting,
So how does handwriting compare to using a keyboard when it comes to learning new information?
Take a moment to think about how you write.
First, hand movements; the same movement is required to type each letter on a keyboard. In contrast, when we write, our brain needs to think about and retrieve memories of the shape of each letter. We also need to use our eyes to watch the shapes we’re writing. And we need to control our hands to press a pen to shape the different letters. In short, all these skills use, connect and challenge more areas of the brain.
Now think about how you select information; key words can be interlinked by highlighting and small drawings.
Take your time; handwriting can be a slow process and this slowing down requires you to think more, activate the brain and remember better.
Get creative; handwriting can also mean drawing. You can also make a mind map, linking words together in a meaningful visual map to enhance meaning and memory.
But don’t abandon technology all together; the computer can be a great tool to help with correcting grammar and spelling.
But still put a pen in your hand; have you noticed that when you reread a printed text ideas flow into your brain the minute you pick up a pen, corrections flow and you also see mistakes immediately on the paper that you didn’t see on the screen.
So, on balance it is recommended to take notes by hand, making a mind map, writing a first draft of an essay by hand but then use technology to check the grammar and spelling for the final draft.
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