DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English. I’m Doug
Johnson. Today on our show, we play new music from Jay-Z and Kanye West. We also
answer a question about Martin Luther King, Jr. And we tell about a memorial
honoring the civil rights leader.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
DOUG JOHNSON: A memorial to honor Martin Luther King opened to the public
this week in Washington. An official dedication ceremony with President Obama
was set for this Sunday. But the event has been postponed because of the threat
to the East Coast from Hurricane Irene.
Sunday marks the forty-eighth anniversary of an historic protest in
Washington. On that day, Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream”
speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream"
speech to hundreds of thousands of marchers gathered at the Lincoln Memorial
MARTIN LUTHER KING: “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the
American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live
out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of
Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be
able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream.”
Katherine Cole tells us about the memorial.
KATHERINE COLE: The new monument sits on one point six hectares of land on
Washington’s National Mall. It is a short walk from memorials to two presidents:
Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.
Two large stones stand on each side of the entrance to the Martin Luther King
memorial. Together they make up what is called the “Mountain of Despair.” The
name was taken from Dr. King’s most famous speech.
The centerpiece of the memorial is a nine meter tall statue called the “Stone
of Hope.” The stone image shows the likeness of the man considered one of the
most influential civil rights leaders of the twentieth century.
Words from Dr King’s “I Have a Dream” speech also appear on one side of the
statue. They read: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” The other
side of the statue recognizes his efforts. It reads: “I was a drum major for
justice, peace and righteousness.” Other famous words from his speeches appear
on a granite wall that circles the memorial.
It has taken more than twenty-five years to plan for and build the Martin
Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. During that time, the project has faced its
own “mountains of despair.” These include delays because of money problems,
disagreements about the design and questions over the choice of a Chinese artist
to make the statue. Lei Yixin was the lead sculptor for the memorial.
Harry Johnson heads the foundation that was responsible for raising the one
hundred twenty million dollars needed to complete the project. He explains why
his group chose Lei Yixin to do the work.
HARRY JOHNSON: "We chose him because we really believe that Dr. King’s
message is true, that you should not judge a person by the color of his skin but
by the content of his character. In these terms, we are thinking artistic
The new monument is the first on the National Mall to honor a man of peace,
and a person of color. Mr. Johnson says the memorial will make a powerful
statement about the progress the country has made on civil rights.
MARTIN LUTHER KING: "I just want to do God’s Will. And he’s allowed me to go
up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may
not get there with you but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will
get to the promised land.”
DOUG JOHNSON: Our question this week is also about Dr. King. Van Nguyen of
Vietnam and Sobhei Jemma Belal of Sudan want to know about the life of the civil
Martin Luther King, Junior was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January fifteenth,
nineteen twenty-nine. He attended Morehouse College. At the time, Morehouse was
one of the few southern colleges that accepted blacks. He studied Indian
independence leader Mohandas Gandhi and the American writer and philosopher
Henry David Thoreau. He thought their ideas about nonviolence and disobedience
could be used to win equal rights for black Americans. Gandhi believed in
peacefully refusing to obey unjust laws. Thoreau had written that people should
to be prepared to go to prison for their beliefs.
Martin Luther King’s life as a civil rights leader began with the famous
protest by Rosa Parks in nineteen fifty-nine. At that time, black people in
Montgomery, Alabama had to sit in the back of public buses. Rosa Parks took a
seat near the front and refused to move. She was arrested.
Martin Luther King organized a protest to support Rosa Parks. He urged black
people to boycott the buses in Montgomery. That boycott lasted three hundred
Finally, the United States Supreme Court ruled that racial separation in the
Montgomery bus system was unconstitutional. The ruling gave black Americans a
new feeling of satisfaction and unity. They saw that peaceful protest could be
used as a tool to win their legal rights.
The civil rights movement spread fast. A group of black clergymen formed an
organization to guide it. Dr. King became president of this organization, the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In the years that followed, he helped
organize many protests in the South.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights
activists during a five day, 50 mile march to Alabama's capital, Montgomery,
to protest unfair voting laws
A nineteen sixty-three protest in Birmingham, Alabama brought unwanted
attention to the city. Many protesters were beaten and arrested. Soon, white
politicians saw that it was easier to meet the demands of the protesters than to
That victory for Dr. King and his followers marked another turning point for
the civil rights movement. Shortly after that, he organized the March on
Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
About two hundred fifty thousand people gathered in the capital. They heard
Martin Luther King give his most famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” He talked
about his dream for the future.
Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in nineteen sixty-four. In the years
that followed, he continued to work for equality for all Americans.
On April fourth, nineteen sixty-eight, Dr. King was shot in the neck as he
stood on the balcony of a Memphis hotel. He had gone there to lead protests in
support of black sanitation workers. Dr. King always felt he would die a violent
death. But he never believed that his life was more important than the civil
MARTIN LUTHER KING: “So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything.
I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
DOUG JOHNSON: “Watch the Throne” is a new album from two of the biggest stars
in the world of music today, Jay-Z and Kanye West. The two have worked together
on several projects in the past. But, “Watch the Throne” is their first joint
album. Barbara Klein plays some of the new music.
BARBARA KLEIN: Kanye West started talking publicly about plans for a
recording with Jay-Z a year ago. He and Jay-Z started recording “Watch the
Throne” in November of last year. And they did the work in several cities around
Kanye West, left, and Jay-Z performing together last
The new album was released on August eighth. But the song “Otis” was released
in late July. It uses some of Otis Redding’s recording of “Try a Little
Last month, Jay-Z asked a few reporters to listen to the new music. He said
his favorite song on the album at the time was this one, “No Church in the Wild.”
We leave you Kanye West and Jay-Z performing “Made in America,” from their
album “Watch the Throne.”
DOUG JOHNSON: I’m Doug Johnson. Our program was written by June Simms and
Caty Weaver, who was also our producer. Join us again next week for music and
more on AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.