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Martin Luther King Day

Today is a national holiday in the United States to mark the birthday of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to "celebrate the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America," wrote Mrs. Coretta Scott King.
The musical "Martin Luther King - The King of Love" by and with Ron Williams premieres in Berlin on February 2, 2007, writes Die Welt (in German).
Ron Williams is a German-American entertainer, who came to Germany as a GI in the 60s. His homepage.

YouTube
has a 17 minutes video of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, which is still very powerful and moving on the European side of the Atlantic as well. Transcript. Let freedom ring...
Crooks and Liars has another video: "The evolution (devolution?) of rhetoric: Bill O'Reilly vs. Martin Luther King, Jr." which includes some of the reverend's quotes on Vietnam and dissent vs disloyalty.

UPDATE: Martin Luther King used his American Express Card to enter East Berlin: See Freitag (in German) or English summary in this comment.

The Koelner Stadt Anzeiger (in German) has a bit more extensive coverage of the musical.

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Atlantic Review on : Black History Month in Germany

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Every February, millions of Americans and Canadians celebrate Black History Month, sometimes referred to as African-American History Month or African Heritage Month. While the month-long series of events discusses oppression and prejudices against people

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Pinkerton on :

Martin Luther King, certainly an American to be proud of. In his "Vietnam" speech; "Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours." If only George Bush and those 30% who still insist on following him in the US would read this again and look at the parallel to our own time, to Iraq. If they could only face the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with the 911 terrorist attacks on our country and see the damage they have done to our military, our standing in the world regarding foreign affairs, our national debt, and the killing of the innocent people of Iraq. Back then, we had Martin Luther King to speak for the poor in America who are paying the price and for the Iraqi's who are paying the price as their land is being laid to waste. Who do we have now? I guess we'll never know, because the media refuse to show the dissent on tv. The flag covered coffins aren't being shown, the video on tv showing the reality on the ground in Iraq isn't being shown either. I remember seeing the evening news during the Viet Nam era and watching the film and hearing about the battles. It was real then. This war in Iraq doesn't exist to those Americans who don't have a child in the military. There are no protests in the streets, and when there is, the media refuses to show it. Martin Luther King was the voice of compassion and reason. Where is our voice now? Maybe this year, on this Martin Luther King day, people will wake up to the reality and while mourning his passsing, will remember his words..."I had a dream."

Bill on :

Thanks Jörg for bringing the memory of this great man to the attention of your readers. In regards to the media refusing to cover certain stories (ref: Pinkerton's comment about U.S. media coverage of anti-war protests and such), why does the German TV and radio networks almost NEVER cover the annual Martin Luther King Day Jr. celebrations in the United States? I mean they couldn't get enough coverage of how bad people were suffering in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit, could they? I found this brief article that you referenced in the German newspaper "Die Welt" hilarious, especially since the German SPD political party leader Kurt Beck is so deeply involved with this German musical project about the life and times of Martin Luther King Jr. Don't tell me, Kurt Beck is all-of-a-sudden very interested in promoting dialogues within Germany on the lessons learned from the U.S. Civil Rights Movement? Non? What's his angle on promoting this musical at this time? Die Welt newspaper - 01/13/07 Ein Musical über den US-Bürgerrechtler und Friedensnobelpreisträger Martin Luther King (1929-1968) wird am 2. Februar 2007 in der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche uraufgeführt. Schirmherr des Projekts ist der SPD-Vorsitzende und rheinland-pfälzische Ministerpräsident Kurt Beck. Autor und Hauptdarsteller ist der Künstler Ron Williams. Das Stück trägt den Titel "Martin Luther King - The King of love" (Martin Luther King - Der König der Liebe). Nach dem Auftakt in Berlin soll es bundesweit in Kirchen aufgeführt werden. Am Freitag stellt Beck das Projekt offiziell vor. It will be interesting to watch how the broadcast media here covers this story on Friday January 19th (if they cover it at all) and how the African-American German TV personality Ron Williams makes his comeback with the German public. I hope not like Germany's favorite black TV star and entertainer Roberto Blanco. What would Martin say? About.com - Black History and Germany 4 http://german.about.com/od/culture/a/blackhistger_4.htm

JW-Atlantic Review on :

I don't know why Beck is promoting the musical. It might just be a publicity stunt. Perhaps Beck wants to boost his reputation by promoting the musical? Fine with me. If promoting an MLK musical helps your popularity in Germany, then this says a lot about the appeal MLK still has in Germany. Great. "why does the German TV and radio networks almost NEVER cover the annual Martin Luther King Day Jr. celebrations in the United States?" I don't know. A Google News search returns primarily financial news articles mentioning that Wall Street is closed due to the holidays. There are, however, quite a few schools named after MLK: [url]http://www.google.de/search?q=Martin+Luther+King+Schule[/url] And I have seen posters for the MLK musical all over Berlin This poster: [url]http://www.ron-williams.de/sites/act_theat_king_of_love.php[/url] Besides, I have seen a articles about Muhammed Ali's 65th birthday and Barack Obama's announcement to form an exploratory committee for seeking the presidency. And both are mentioned on the radio. What is your impression of the German media coverage of Ali and Obama? Still, I am surprised how little there was about Martin Luther King. I agree with your point about Katrina.

Bill on :

It would also be interesting to learn what the Social Democrats actually DID to HELP Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and African-American citizens in the United States of America during the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and 1970's. Of course, the SPD was still a young political party back in those days (founded 1863) so it probably wasn't much. Then there was the big focus on rebuilding the country from the ruins of war and the domestic and export Wirtschaftswunder (post-WWII West German economic boom, East Germany never fully recovered during the same period under the Soviet boot). Good to see that you are alive and well over in Berlin. Button down the hatches, it's gonna be very windy today according to the weather service. Good luck and see you again after the Big North Atlantic Hurricane of 2007 is over. Re: your question about German media coverage of Ali's 65th birthday and Obama's potential bid for the presidency in 2008. Haven't seen or read much on Ali, sorry. Obama's run for the presidency is gonna be big news over here though. I can see the BILD & Der Spiegel headlines now: "Is America Ready for a Black President?" Answer: Yes, but is Europe and the rest of the world ready??? Non?

JW-Atlantic Review on :

> It would also be interesting to learn what the Social > Democrats actually DID to HELP Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and > African-American citizens in the United States of America > during the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's and > 1970's. Interesting questions. I am not a historian and I am too young. Perhaps someone else has an answer. I would just say that any German support for civil rights movement would probably have been considered diplomatically incorrect. The US government and American papers might have responded with something like this: How does Germany dare to lecture us about civil rights just twenty years after the Holocaust? What kind of help could the Social Democrats have provided? Anyway, I found this interesting article in Germany. You can read the full text here, Bill: [url]http://www.freitag.de/2004/40/04401802.php[/url] Rough summary for those who can't read German: MLK visited West-Berlin in 1964 on the invitation of mayor Willy Brandt (Social Democrats). He spoke at a commemoration for the JFK in front of 20,000 folks in an open-air concert arena. Some religious leader from East Germany invited him as well. MLK was popular in the GDR due to his opposition to Vietnam, "Anti-Imperialism" etc, but the political leaders mistrusted him. The US State Department did not want him to visit East Berlin either and took his passport. MLK went to the Checkpoint Charlie anyway. The East German border police asked for his passport. He responded that they should recognize his face. The police guard said that he has to see some identification. Then, and this is what I find most funny, MLK took his American Express Card. The border police guard of communist Germany accepted the American Express Card and let MLK in. Then, MLK was preaching in the East Berlin Marienkirche, which was already full three hours before MLK started, although no official announcements were made. The news about MLK just spread by word of mouth. The article was printed in the weekly FREITAG in 2004 to mark the 40th anniversary of MLK's visit. The author works at the Martin-Luther-King-Zentrum für Gewaltfreiheit und Zivilcourage e.V. [url]www.martin-luther-king-zentrum.de[/url] Also 40th anniversary commemorations: [url]http://www.morgenpost.de/content/2004/09/11/bezirke/702861.html[/url] Some radio listeners voted for "I have a Dream" as the second best "Ton der Toene". Pretty weird mix of speeches: [url]http://www.wdr.de/radio/wdr2/sonderdetail/350992.phtml[/url]

Bill on :

That's for the excellent story about Martin Luther King Jr. visiting East Berlin and the link to the Germany-based organization "Martin Luther King Center for Non-violence and Civil Courage". Never heard of these guys, have you? BTW: Didn't see or hear anymore about Kurt Beck opening that new play about MLK Jr., what with the hurricane deaths and damages and the multi-million dollar scandal at the brand spanking new Berlin Bahnhof (steel girders fell off during the storm, really?). Then there is the crisis in Bayern and Berlin with the CSU leadership after Stoiber's proclaimed resignation. I don't think he will quit 'cause he doesn't know how to just let go of the power. And to think that he was brought to his knees by a woman inside his own ranks.

JW-Atlantic Review on :

@ Bill "Haven't seen or read much on Ali, sorry." I just did search for "muhammad ali" at [url]http://news.google.de/[/url] and found quite a few stories. "Obama's run for the presidency is gonna be big news over here though." I think Obamamania has already arrived a few months ago: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/545-German-Paper-America-Remains-Model-to-Emulate.html[/url]

Ron Williams on :

Bill, I realize this mail is reaching you MUCH too late. You wrote your comments re: Martin Luther King - King of Love, my musical about my "vorbid". To answer your rather cyncical question about Kurt Becks involvement in this project I first must let you know that the two of us are friends. Without his help, we would have never gotten the show up as quickly as we did. I don`t know if you are aware of the fact that I´ve been EXTREEMLY blessed to have had, and still have, the opportunity to visit German Schools when may schedule allows and spend two exciting hours with(500 to 600) young 9th and 10th grade students all over this country, discussing, debating and looking for answers WITH THEM to the questions re: racisim, xenophobia and the dangers of neo-nazisism in this country. I`ve been able to do this in over 120 schools to date. Beck Kurt was the first politician to invite me in his role as Minister Präsident of Rheinland-Pfalz to conduct my "Schul Tour für Toleranz" back in 2001, after hearing me in a TV talk-show ask "..why don`t the political leaders in this country do MORE about confronting this problem besides giving the typical `sonntags reden´and then leaving it at that?". His office called me just days later inviting me to Mainz to meet with him and plan my first extensive tour of schools in his State, and NOT the last.Bill, you schould check out Becks MAINZER APPELL..."Before you judge folks, inform yourself...", my grandmother would tell you. Kurt supported me long before he became SPD boss. He also, along with others, placed my name on the list of those to be awarded the Bundes Verdienskreuz by Präsident Köhler in 2004. I hope you can understand that I don`t agree with your comments on Jan. 18, 2007. Ron Williams

sharah on :

wow he did ALL THAT STUFF

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