Tag Archives: Nobel Prize

We Remember Dr. King

Had he lived, Dr. King would have been 83 years old this year.

And he probably would have been gearing up for an amazing 2013 when the nation will mark 50 years since the historic March on Washington and 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation ended legalized slavery in the United States.

On a personal note, I was eight years old when Congress established the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday in January.

And this year, my son, at eight years old, is visiting the newly completed Dr. King memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

As difficult as it is to talk to children about the harsh realities of our history and about the challenges to equality in our current cultural and economic climate, the Dr. King memorial is a great opportunity to bring these issues to life.

It’s a chance to talk about how precious freedom is, what it means, and why we must be constantly on guard to protect it.

It’s a chance to instill in our children the importance of following their conscience and not the dictates of what society tells us is true or acceptable.

And it’s a chance to remind them of their own inherent self-worth and responsibility to live lives of courage and compassion.

The monument includes quotations from Dr. King’s speeches, including his 1964 speech in Norway upon receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace. You can read the speech in its entirety here. 

Dr. King was only 35 when he received the Nobel – the youngest person ever to receive the award – and he donated the entire amount (about $56,000) to the Civil Rights Movement.

To read Dr. King’s biography on the Nobel website, click here.

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Thank you, Wangari Maathai

On Sunday, September 25, we lost a hero when Kenyan Wangari Maathai passed away from cancer in Nairobi.

In 2004, Maathai earned worldwide attention when she was named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for her work linking environmentalism with democracy and human rights.

Maathai decided that planting trees with women’s groups would improve the quality of their lives while helping the environment. She founded the Green Belt Movement which has planted more than 20 million trees on farms, schools, and church compounds. The movement has spread to other countries in Africa.

Maathai was the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree. She studied at several universities in the United State and Europe before returning to Kenya to improve the lives of her fellow citizens.

In 2002, Maathai was elected to the Kenyan Parliament and was later appointed to be Assistant Minister of Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife.

Maathai was a great leader. Despite the challenges she faced as a woman and an African, she changed the world by teaching women to value themselves, to take control over their lives, and to connect human rights with environmentalism. We owe her a great deal, but the best way to honor her work is to continue it.

For more information about Maathai, read her biography on the Nobel Prize page. Learn more about the Green Belt Movement here.

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