martin luther king jr.'s birthday

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On this day in music history: May 4, 1982 - “Original Musiquarium I”, the twenty seventh album (fourth compilation) by Stevie Wonder is released. Produced by Stevie Wonder, it is recorded at Mediasound Studios, Electric Lady Studios, The Record Plant, The Hit Factory in New York City, Crystal Industries and Wonderland Studios in Hollywood, CA, The Record Plant, Westlake Audio in Los Angeles, CA and The Record Plant in Sausalito, CA from Mid 1971 - April 1982. After the release of “Hotter Than July” and tour in support of it, Stevie Wonder turns his attention away from music to continue his campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday. As one of Motown’s biggest artists and with no plans for a new album, it becomes a concern to the label. Then label president Jay Lasker offers Stevie $2 million to compile a greatest hits album, for release in early 1982. Wonder agrees, only if Motown makes it a double album with new material added, and ups the amount to $3 million. Lasker agrees and Stevie begins assembling the package. Titling it “Original Musiquarium I”, it consists of twelve classics from 1972 to 1980. The end of each side is completed with one of four new songs. Motown enthusiastically announces the impending release in December of 1981, just as Stevie delivers the first single, promising masters for the rest in January 1982. The first single titled “That Girl” (#1 R&B, #4 Pop) quickly races up the R&B chart spending nine weeks on top, and into the top five on the pop chart. Though in typical Stevie Wonder fashion, the original date comes and goes without the album materializing. January, then February, then March, then April go by… No album… Finally the other new tracks are finished and the final masters are hand delivered to Berry Gordy at Motown by Stevie himself. It is rushed into production and finally arrives in stores the first week of May in 1982. The second single, the funky and upbeat “Do I Do” (#2 R&B, #13 Pop, #1 Club Play) features jazz icon Dizzy Gillespie soloing on the nearly ten and a half minute track, going into an extended breakdown during the last two minutes, with Stevie breaking into a spontaneous call and response with his band and freestyle rap. It is followed by the ballad “Ribbon In The Sky” (#10 R&B, #54 Pop) which becomes wedding dance and Quiet Storm radio staple. The final new song “Front Line”, is one of the first to address the poor treatment of US Vietnam Veterans after returning home. Though successful and a long term best seller, Jay Lasker later comments that Motown had missed out on sales of over a million copies due to the late delivery of the album. Originally released on CD in 1984, it is remastered and reissued in 2000. “Original Musiquarium I” spends three weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number four on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

From the displacement of black families to Black Panther curfews, the Oregon Historical Society has digitized more than three hours of 16mm television news footage documenting the Portland civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. This shows marchers marking Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday in 1969. (Oregon Historical Society)

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New York City: People’s Power March Against Racism to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, January 15, 2015.

March from the African Burial Ground National Monument to the Staten Island Ferry, Wall Street, the massive city jail, and City Hall.

“Enough is enough! We are tired of the white supremacy and racism that’s so prevalent in the U.S.! We are tired of the constant NYPD repression, occupation and murders within communities of color . If Dr. King were alive today, he would be in the streets with our anti-police brutality movement. Let’s organize student strikes, community strikes, workers strikes, and march!”

Photos by redguard

I’ve always spoken to the press about how as an audience member I long to see diversity in things in American cinema. Some of my favorite films are foreign films because I know I’m going to get diversity when I see films from all over the world. It’s something that we lack here. Of course this morning it made it poignant. It’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday today. I don’t want to take away from anything because it’s an incredible situation. I just wish we had stories about a larger group of people. The film industry is made to hold a mirror to society, reflect where we’ve been in our past, where we are today and where we are headed. I think we need to reflect more where we are today because we are not seeing the best picture.
—  Jessica Chastain on the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscar nominations. 

Today marks Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 86th birthday. Dr King’s birthday was approved as a federal holiday in 1983. He was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, but the MLK holiday, which honors the civil rights leader’s legacy, is celebrated on the third Monday of every January. On April 4, 1968, at the age of 39, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee—but not before changing the course of American history.

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New York City: People’s Power March Against Racism to Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, January 15, 2015.

March from the African Burial Ground National Monument to the Staten Island Ferry, Wall Street, the massive city jail, and City Hall.

“Enough is enough! We are tired of the white supremacy and racism that’s so prevalent in the U.S.! We are tired of the constant NYPD repression, occupation and murders within communities of color . If Dr. King were alive today, he would be in the streets with our anti-police brutality movement. Let’s organize student strikes, community strikes, workers strikes, and march!”

Photos by redguard