Apr. 4, 1998
O mistress mine, where are you roaming?
It was on this day in 1968 that DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING was assassinated in Memphis. He was in town to speak at a strike of the city's sanitation workers. He stepped out on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel just after 6 o'clock that evening and leaned over the railing to talk to friends on the ground, and he was killed by a single shot. In March, 1969, James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to 99 years in prison, even though he recanted that plea last year.
It's the birthday in Long Beach, California, 1928, of MAYA ANGELOU, who was sent at the age of three to live with her grandmother in the little town of Stamps, Arkansas and about which she'd write: "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." She wrote about Stamps in her 1970 autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ÷ a story of poverty and racism and hope that made her famous.
It's the birthday of DOROTHEA DIX, in Hampden, Massachusetts, 1802, who became famous in the 19th century for a series of children's books ÷ like Conversations About Little Things ÷ but who thought of herself as a humanitarian. In her late 30s she was asked to teach a Sunday School class at the Massachusetts State Prison, and she saw first-hand how mental patients of both sexes were thrown together there in appalling conditions. She wrote a report to the state legislature and a number of improvements followed, and she started touring insane asylums and prisons throughout New England, then she traveled to the West and South. She founded mental hospitals in 15 states and oversaw new legislation protecting the mentally ill in other states and as far away as Europe and Japan.
It's the birthday in 1780, Attleboro, Pennsylvania of EDWARD HICKS ÷ the man who made the painting "The Peaceable Kingdom." He started out as a boy painting horse carriages and signs, then gave that up to study theology. He became a Quaker minister and saw the woods and rolling hills of Pennsylvania as the fulfillment of Isaiah's Old Testament prophecy that "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®