Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Celebrated in the US) - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-20-2003, 10:42 AM
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I Have a Dream

by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963



Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.



But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.



In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.



It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.



It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.



But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.



We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.



And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.



I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.



Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.



I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, 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 slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.



I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.



I have a dream that my four 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.



I have a dream today.



I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.



I have a dream today.



I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.



This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.



This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."



And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!



Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!



Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!



But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!



Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!



Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.



When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"



#



http://web66.coled.umn.edu/new/MLK/MLK.html
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#2 Old 01-20-2003, 11:09 AM
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Has anyone noticed that this speech is a hodgepodge of mixed metaphors, most of which are unnecessary and the thoughts behind them could have been expressed just as well, in fact more forcefully, with direct speech?



================

This momentous decree [the emancipation proclamation] came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice."

==================



Mixed metaphors for the emancipation proclamation -- it was a beacon of light? MLK is using a trite metaphor too; it has been so over-used that it no longer has any force to it. But as if that were not enough, he then has to start mixing in 2 more metaphors -- Negro slaves who had been "seared in the flames of withering justice." 1. Flames of justice. 2. Withering justice. When justice withers, flames emerge from it. What striking imagery. He must have thought that out very carefully! Not! These 2 metaphors are themselves "mixed" plus he mixes them in the with first metaphor. The result: to give hope to people who have been "seared in the flames of withering justice" -- comes a "beacon of light." The peculiar mix of "shining a light" on people who have been "seared in flames" is just awful awful awful thoughtless imagery. If you want to offer hope to people who have been seared by flames, you offer them something that is more like a tub full of cold water, not a beacon of light! If that isn't bad enough, the flames that seared the millions of Negro slaves amounted to "withering" justice. We have the imagery of nasty nasty rising flames on one hand, and the imagery of droopy droopy floppy withering on the other hand. The only way he could have made this metaphor more nonsensical would have been to say seared by the flames of "drooping vegetation," instead of "withering justice."



It would have been simpler, more meaningful, less tedious, and had more of an impact, if he had simply said:



============

This momentous decree gave hope to millions of Negros who, in being enslaved, suffered ill-treatment and injustice.

==================



Isn't my version a lot better?
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#3 Old 01-20-2003, 11:13 AM
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The Meaning of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

By Coretta Scott King



The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example -- the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. Kings character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.



We commemorate Dr. Kings inspiring words, because his voice and his vision filled a great void in our nation, and answered our collective longing to become a country that truly lived by its noblest principles. Yet, Dr. King knew that it wasnt enough just to talk the talk, that he had to walk the walk for his words to be credible. And so we commemorate on this holiday the man of action, who put his life on the line for freedom and justice every day, the man who braved threats and jail and beatings and who ultimately paid the highest price to make democracy a reality for all Americans.



The King Holiday honors the life and contributions of Americas greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also lead a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality.



On this day we commemorate Dr. Kings great dream of a vibrant, multiracial nation united in justice, peace and reconciliation; a nation that has a place at the table for children of every race and room at the inn for every needy child. We are called on this holiday, not merely to honor, but to celebrate the values of equality, tolerance and interracial sister and brotherhood he so compellingly expressed in his great dream for America.



It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. No other day of the year brings so many peoples from different cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of brother and sisterhood. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, you are part of the great dream Martin Luther King, Jr. had for America. This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples' holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream.



We commemorate on this holiday the ecumenical leader and visionary who embraced the unity of all faiths in love and truth. And though we take patriotic pride that Dr. King was an American, on this holiday we must also commemorate the global leader who inspired nonviolent liberation movements around the world. Indeed, on this day, programs commemorating my husbands birthday are being observed in more than 100 nations.



The King Holiday celebrates Dr. Kings global vision of the world house, a world whose people and nations had triumphed over poverty, racism, war and violence. The holiday celebrates his vision of ecumenical solidarity, his insistence that all faiths had something meaningful to contribute to building the beloved community.



The Holiday commemorates Americas pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence --- the man who taught by his example that nonviolent action is the most powerful, revolutionary force for social change available to oppressed people in their struggles for liberation.



This holiday honors the courage of a man who endured harassment, threats and beatings, and even bombings. We commemorate the man who went to jail 29 times to achieve freedom for others, and who knew he would pay the ultimate price for his leadership, but kept on marching and protesting and organizing anyway.



Every King holiday has been a national "teach-in" on the values of nonviolence, including unconditional love, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation, which are so desperately-needed to unify America. It is a day of intensive education and training in Martins philosophy and methods of nonviolent social change and conflict-reconciliation. The Holiday provides a unique opportunity to teach young people to fight evil, not people, to get in the habit of asking themselves, "what is the most loving way I can resolve this conflict?"



On the King holiday, young people learn about the power of unconditional love even for one's adversaries as a way to fight injustice and defuse violent disputes. It is a time to show them the power of forgiveness in the healing process at the interpersonal as well as international levels.



Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all a day of service. All across America on the Holiday, his followers perform service in hospitals and shelters and prisons and wherever people need some help. It is a day of volunteering to feed the hungry, rehabilitate housing, tutoring those who can't read, mentoring at-risk youngsters, consoling the broken-hearted and a thousand other projects for building the beloved community of his dream.



Dr. King once said that we all have to decide whether we "will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life's most persistent and nagging question, he said, is `what are you doing for others?'" he would quote Mark 9:35, the scripture in which Jesus of Nazareth tells James and John "...whosoever will be great among you shall be your servant; and whosoever among you will be the first shall be the servant of all." And when Martin talked about the end of his mortal life in one of his last sermons, on February 4, 1968 in the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church, even then he lifted up the value of service as the hallmark of a full life. "I'd like somebody to mention on that day Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others," he said. "I want you to say on that day, that I did try in my life...to love and serve humanity.



We call you to commemorate this Holiday by making your personal commitment to serve humanity with the vibrant spirit of unconditional love that was his greatest strength, and which empowered all of the great victories of his leadership. And with our hearts open to this spirit of unconditional love, we can indeed achieve the Beloved Community of Martin Luther King, Jr.s dream.



May we who follow Martin now pledge to serve humanity, promote his teachings and carry forward his legacy into the 21st Century.



#



http://www.thekingcenter.org/holiday/index.asp
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#4 Old 01-20-2003, 11:22 AM
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Soilman,

So he used a few mixed metaphors. I think his audience understood his meaning. His charisma and appealing style aren't captured very well in the text of his speech-- I feel much more compelled to agree with him when watching the video of his speech than when reading the words.



Would the cause of civil rights be much farther along today if King had scrupulously examined every metaphor before delivering it? I honestly don't think such tedious examination would have made a significant impact on our current society.

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#5 Old 01-20-2003, 11:30 AM
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I don't have the guts to stand up like he did. I've tried to imagine what it must have been like back in the day of Dr. King. The conviction and passion he must have felt to lead like he did. Out of all of the people in history, he is in my personal top five that I am most humbled by. I wish I would have know him; talked with him. Wisdom of great depths and a true love for the quality of life for all . He risked his life for what he believed should be. Admiration for him abounds in great amounts.



Long Live His Memory!
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#6 Old 01-20-2003, 11:55 AM
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MRB,

You hit 1000!



What absolutely baffles me about King is that even though he was such a great leader and visionary who espoused such great ideals, he didn't even remain faithful to his wife. What's with that?

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#7 Old 01-20-2003, 01:18 PM
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Joe - Thanks for posting that, I'm ashamed to admit that I've never heard/read anything other than the sound bite they play on tv. It was very moving.

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#8 Old 01-20-2003, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by skylark

MRB,

You hit 1000!



What absolutely baffles me about King is that even though he was such a great leader and visionary who espoused such great ideals, he didn't even remain faithful to his wife. What's with that?



my best guess is there are things that happened in his personal life that no one else could know or understand. so to speculate about it is pointless.
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#9 Old 01-20-2003, 03:03 PM
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Michael,

Then you must get a copy of the video of his speech. It has clips from the police brutality cases with the voice-overed speech from King. I believe the video series I watched in my Public Speaking class was called "Great American Speeches", or something to that effect. I would imagine that the one speech should be available by itself or in some kind of documentary of King's life.

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#10 Old 01-20-2003, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Michael

Joe - Thanks for posting that,



You are welcome.





Quote:
I'm ashamed to admit that I've never heard/read anything other than the sound bite they play on tv.



You can hear the speech in Real Audio by visiting



http://www.historychannel.com/speech...peech_167.html



(Unfortunately, I cannot access it due to technical glitches on my 'puter.)
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#11 Old 01-20-2003, 05:47 PM
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MKL was a post-emancipation abolitionist, who seemed to be pointing out that an end to legally sanctioned involuntary servitude did not necessarily put an end to involuntary servitude. As I pointed out, his thoughts were expressed in a way that was tiresome to listen to. If you want to read something by an abolitionist who made his points with eloquence, and whose thoughts still generate enthusiasm, 150 years after he wrote them, you must read the writings and transcribed speeches of Frederick Douglass. These are absolutely stunning in their eloquence, and stirring -- MKL had a nice mellifluous preacher's voice -- perhaps valuable in the age of radio and television, but his choice of words was dreadfully tedious. Douglass gave ideas at least as much importance, in what he had to say, as any visual and aural impressions he may have made -- and legend is that his physical presence, and voice, were also moving. But the thoughts grab you, even without the man, and the sound. And like MLK, he asserted -- around 1840 -- that an end to legally sanctioned involuntary servitude would not be the same thing as an end to involuntary servitude. While he was in favor of political maneuvering to this end, to end human bondage, he consistently said that the main path to freedom was individual, and internal. Furthermore, he outlined exactly how one must, if necessary, set oneself free from internal bondage, and how this was the way to enable oneself to escape any externally applied force, that might be used in an attempt to hold one in externally enforced bondage!



Not only was Frederick Douglass one of the most eloquent thinker, speaker, and writer, of all time -- but he learned how to read and write despite having to continually break the law to do so, and be at risk of being caught and punished for doing so. In those days people didn't say "stay in school." They said "if we catch you going to school we'll beat the **** out of you."



I cannot read a speech by MLK, without wanting to doze off. I mean it. I don't care how much praise people give him -- he puts me to sleep. But read something by Frederick Douglass, and I am raring to go.
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#12 Old 01-20-2003, 06:01 PM
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I believe I will now be swayed to google this Frederick Douglass and read of him. I've never even heard of him before. If he is as good as you say, what a shame I didn't read about him in History.
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#13 Old 01-21-2003, 01:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by skylark

What absolutely baffles me about King is that even though he was such a great leader and visionary who espoused such great ideals, he didn't even remain faithful to his wife. What's with that?



Human beings are weak, "earthen vessels." The New Testament recognizes this. Jesus Christ founds his Church upon a man named Simon, whom Jesus renames Peter, i.e., "The Rock." Matthew 16:18. Yet Jesus prophesied that "the Rock" would betray him three times during the night (Matthew 26: 34), and Peter betrayed and denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed in the morning (Matthew 26: 69-75). Christ's other disciples, out of weakness, did not even stay awake to pray with him, despite having been asked repeatedly to do so. (Matthew 26: 36-46)



I find it grimly amusing that many people talk as though they had never heard of these passages.



A more secular answer is given by black actor Joseph C. Phillips, who writes:



Quote:


The controversy raises some interesting questions. What is the proper context in which to place the moral failings of a historical figure? And how important is the mythology we create around certain events in our history? Historians have debated these questions for years. Does the fact that many of this countrys founders owned slaves take away from the fact that they created a democratic form of government that was unique in the history of the world? Does the fact that Martin Luther King, Jr. was unfaithful to his wife detract from his accomplishments as one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement? Does the fact that Rosa Parks was, in fact, not the first woman to be arrested for failing to give up her seat, nor the first woman to protest, diminish the courageousness of her act?





Writer and Radio Host Dennis Prager has long held that men maintain a moral bank account. The moral missteps we make are drawn against the moral deposits we have been making over our lifetimes. This makes sense to me. Because we all stumble from time to time, what is needed is perspective. Without perspective, Prager says, We are all doomed to be judged worthless by others. As distasteful as I find infidelity, the accomplishments of The Civil Rights Movement and Kings leadership far outweigh his straying from his marriage vows. I have a sense Coretta King agrees with this assessment as she has carried herself with dignity while continuing the work he started.

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#14 Old 01-21-2003, 01:50 PM
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Soilman,

I've read some works by Frederick Douglass. It's been awhile, but I do recall wholeheartedly agreeing with him. Keep in mind that while not every person is capable of reading Douglass's works, more are able to listen to King's speech because of broadcasting.



Joe,

Let me clarify. What mystifies me most about King is the way that some people practically deify him because of his work toward civil rights. He wasn't perfect by a long shot, but some assume that perceived good will in one setting translates into moral uprightness in all areas of someone's life.

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#15 Old 01-21-2003, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by skylark

Joe,

Let me clarify. What mystifies me most about King is the way that some people practically deify him because of his work toward civil rights. He wasn't perfect by a long shot, but some assume that perceived good will in one setting translates into moral uprightness in all areas of someone's life.



It's wrong to deify any human being (with one possible exception).



I honor Dr. King because of his great achievements, just as I honor George Washington on Washington's birthday, despite the fact that he too comitted infidelity and was a slaveowner to boot.
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#16 Old 01-21-2003, 10:03 PM
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I think part of MLK's "charm" was the fact that he died young, like JFK. I actually agree about Frederick Douglass, Soilman. I think TIMING is everything...
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#17 Old 01-21-2003, 10:07 PM
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Do I really even notice when past presidents' birthdays come up? Honestly, it tends to be something I pass over on the calendar. How does one commemorate Washington's birthday properly?

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#18 Old 01-21-2003, 10:10 PM
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When Clinton was in office, I celebrated President's Day by having my intern give me a hummer while I smoked a cigar.



(Poor guy quit the next day. )
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#19 Old 01-21-2003, 11:14 PM
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Thanks Tame. Since I don't have an intern, that won't work for me. Any other suggestions that might better apply to my individual situation? Something like... eating some Tofutti ice cream... that I can do. :-)

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#20 Old 01-21-2003, 11:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tame

When Clinton was in office, I celebrated President's Day by having my intern give me a hummer while I smoked a cigar.



(Poor guy quit the next day. )



SNORK!
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#21 Old 01-22-2003, 12:59 AM
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i think you are missing something other than an intern for receiving a hummer skylark.



I think we learned a lot about Tames sexual identity in the last week, maybe too much.
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#22 Old 01-22-2003, 09:55 AM
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Majake,

I know. I just didn't want to get into a discussion on sexual identity when all I wanted was some ideas for commemorating Presidents' Day.

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#23 Old 01-06-2004, 08:34 PM
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Well, a BJ is one good way to celebrate, but of course the US always knows a better way: continue to imprison and even execute innocent black people. Cool, huh?

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#24 Old 01-06-2004, 09:14 PM
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I remember that day. That speech was on television. It was so powerful, and it still has the power to me good goosebumps. When he starts with I have a dream, from there on it was extemporanious for the most part. Mia Anjelou was behind him and she told him to tell them about his dream. Then he started into the I have a dream section. It was so powerful because it came from the heart. If you ever get a chance to see the tape, do.
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#25 Old 01-07-2004, 12:19 AM
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Thanks for posting this Joe, I've never read the whole thing before!



Very interesting points made, Soilman!



Life2K, that's so great that you saw it live! Must have been amazing.
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#26 Old 01-07-2004, 11:13 PM
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And a year later, it returns....

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#27 Old 01-08-2004, 02:00 AM
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And a year later, it returns....



Yes, it is kind of amazing that this thread is being revived.
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#28 Old 01-08-2004, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Joe View Post

Yes, it is kind of amazing that this thread is being revived.



Especially consiring that it had pretty much disintegrated into babble about sexual identities. Hey, I'm still looking for real suggestions on how a person can observe Presidents' Day!

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#29 Old 08-28-2013, 08:50 PM
Joe
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I'm bumping this thread in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and King's speech.
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