The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

A Person I Admire


Written by a 10 year-old West Belfast girl who is studying in the Southern United States for the year.

Miss O'Dee • 8 April 2004

A person I admire is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Before I came to America, I did not know who he was. But now I know. I know his powerful words; his speeches; I know about his marches. I almost know his whole life, from his early childhood to his tragic death in Memphis.

Knowing about Dr. King’s life has given me a new perspective about the world. In my hometown of Belfast, we had soldiers on our streets for many years. Our own civil rights movement ended in 1972, when soldiers killed 14 marchers on a day that became known as Bloody Sunday. There is still fighting between Catholics and Protestants because of political beliefs and inequality. We go to separate schools and live in separate neighbourhoods. Just like in Little Rock, bricks and bombs were thrown at Catholic children when they tried to walk to school through a Protestant street. I wish those things could change. In my whole life I have only met one Protestant, in a city that is half Protestant.

When Martin was a boy, he had some white friends. One day, he and his little brother knocked on their friends’ door like they had done a thousand times before. This time, it was different. Their mother answered, “You can’t play with my kids anymore, because we’re white and you’re colored.” Martin ran home crying. It was that day he found out what the world was really like. His friends moved away, and were never heard from again.

When he was a teenager, Martin and his teacher took the bus home. The driver said, “Get up! White people need your seats!” “No,” replied Martin. His teacher looked into the furious eyes of the bus-driver. Frightened, she got off the bus with Martin. Now he knew who he was going to be: a “drum-major for justice and equality.” At 17, Martin decided to become a minister like his father.

In 1960, Martin went to hear a talk about Mahatma Ghandi. Martin was inspired by Ghandi’s role in freeing India from the British by peaceful means. Three years later, he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. Millions of people from all over the US, of all different races, attended the March.

Years had passed. There had been many marches, speeches, and sit-ins. Segregation was still there. What more could Martin do? He had been in jail over 200 times now. He had seen the crying faces of children in the other cells. Children of all ages went to jail for marching against segregation. He was delighted when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, but he couldn’t be truly happy unless all Americans had equal rights.

Martin was the happiest man in the world when finally, with a lot of hard work and effort, the Dream had come true. Still, he felt that more could be done. He campaigned for poor workers, both black and white. Martin led a Memphis garbage workers’ strike in 1968, but it became violent. Some people blamed Martin for everything, so he promised them there would be a peaceful march on April 5th.

Martin never had a chance to keep his promise. On April 4th, he was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. died in Memphis Hospital, leaving his wife and children.

I will go back to Ireland this summer having made many new friends: Black, White, Latino and Asian. This would not have been possible without Martin. I hope that some day Catholics and Protestants in the north of Ireland can live like Martin showed black and white people to. If he were here today, I would like to say, “Thank you for turning America upside down.”

Thank you.






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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

11 April 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Easter 2004, Arbour Hill, Dublin
Francis Mackey


Good Friday to Easter Sunday, 2 Days and Light Years
Anthony McIntyre


Is there a Republican Alternative to the Good Friday Agreement?
Gerry Ruddy


Bail For Sale - Nationalists Need Not Apply
Anthony McIntyre


Is the British State Neutral?
Liam O Ruairc


Lost Sheep or Shepherd?

Tom Luby


A Person I Admire
Miss O'Dee


Lerner, Said and the Palestinians
M. Shahid Alam


9 April 2004


Richard McAuley - 'a literary giant of our time'
Barney de Breadbin and Eamon Codswolloper


Hear, Hear!
Brian Mór


How Will Paisley's Rise Play in America?
Sean Mc Manus


Other Shoes

Mick Hall


A Septic Needle
Anthony McIntyre


Why More Will Hate More and Less Will Understand Less
Michael Youlton


Save the Hill of Tara
Seaghán Ó Murchú




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