Monday, January 16, 2006

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday's Post by Daniel Olivas...

On January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. His grandfather began the family's long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor. Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had been graduated. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951. With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955 In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments. Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.

In 1954, Martin Luther King accepted the pastorale of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was, by this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation. He was ready, then, early in December, 1955, to accept the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the bus boycott described by Gunnar Jahn in his presentation speech in honor of the laureate. The boycott lasted 382 days. On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and whites rode the buses as equals. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.

In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from Gandhi. In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles. In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience. and inspiring his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", a manifesto of the Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, "I Have a Dream", he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.

At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1951-1970, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972

POETRY MAGAZINE TAKEN TO TASK REDUX: We recently noted that the New York Sun published a letter by Francisco Aragón where he took to task Poetry Magazine for its failure to cover Latino/a poets. He revisits this issue in a letter published yesterday in the Boston Globe (in italics):

Reading between the lines at Poetry magazine

January 15, 2006

I APPRECIATED Wesley Yang's informative and objective portrait on the work the Poetry Foundation is attempting to do with its ample financial resources (''Poets, Inc.," Ideas, Jan. 8).

Among the points he conveys is how the president of the foundation, John Barr, ''doesn't hesitate to use the language of corporate marketing to talk about his outreach efforts, speaking of 'demographic groups.' "

Yang also quotes the magazine's editor, Christian Wiman, who says there should ''be a broad band of poetry available to common readers."

In the September 2005 issue of Poetry, Wiman, explaining which books get assigned for review, states: ''We try to cover a range of books."

It is troubling, therefore, that to the best of my knowledge not one book by a Latino or Latina author has been reviewed since he took over.

Titles by Latino and Latina poets continue to appear in the magazine's online list of books received but have not garnered a single word of commentary.

So much for representing the mosaic of American poetry.

Notre Dame, Ind.
The writer is director of Letras Latinas, the literary component of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

NUEVO LIBRO: Rigoberto González reviews Ray González's most recent poetry collection, Consideration of the Guitar (BOA Editions). He notes that "this rich and significant book reads like an epic love poem to the Southwest and the Texas borderlands."


News from CSRC Press:

I Am Aztlán: The Personal Essay in Chicano Studies. Scholars, writers, and artists reflect on the role of the “I” in Chicano and Latino culture and the diverse ways in which personal voice and experience inform their research. Praise for for this new book of essays:

Book News (August 2005): "These twelve essays … approach the subjects of exile and going home, home and work, family, and testifying by sharing memories of first learning English and white culture, what [the authors] thought of their parents' role in culture in the past and how they perceive it now, how family secrets that transcend culture still become involved in it, how life as a Chicano/Latino is confined or liberated by conflicts in culture, how machismo is machismo, sometimes, how finding a kindred spirit in print can save a life, and how professions can be created or broken on perceptions of others. Field reports from the classroom and the U.S. Hispanic market are included, along with a bibliography of autobiography and personal essays in Spanish and English.”

Early Chicano Art Documentaries. This DVD combines two pioneering documentaries about Chicano artists of East Los Angeles during the crucial decade of the 1970s. Library Journal says: “Highly recommended for Latino and culturally diverse collections.”

CSRC Press Information:
If you are interested in buying books, click here.
If you are interested in buying DVDs, click here.
If you are interested in subscribing to the CSRC journal, email your postal address to

Information about all CSRC Press publications is available at the CSRC Press website.

NUEVO CUENTO: The new issue of Del Sol Review includes my cuento de fantasma, Chock-Chock. Drop on by and take a peek at the other stories, poems and essays from an array of authors.

All done. So, until next Monday, enjoy the intervening posts from my compadres y comadre at La Bloga. ¡Lea un libro!

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