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marting-luther-king-jr-facts
The name of Martin Luther King Jr. is synonymous with the civil rights movement in the United States. Here are five interesting facts about him.

  1. Martin Luther King Jr. was actually born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929. The civil rights leader’s name was changed after his father traveled to Germany and was inspired by the Protestant Reformation Leader Martin Luther. His inspiration resulted in his father changing both his own and Jr’s names.
  2. King excelled in school. He entered college at age 15, attending Morehouse College graduating with a degree in sociology. King earned a divinity degree from Pennsylvania’s Crozer Theological Seminary, and he also attended Boston University where he received his PhD in 1955.
  3. King was jailed 29 times over the course of his life. Most of the reasons he was jailed were for acts of civil disobedience, and utterly ridiculous charges including driving 30mph in a 25mph zone- evidence of the time.
  4. Martin Luther King Jr was the first African American to be named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. King was also the youngest person, at the time, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the civil rights movement.
  5. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech held at the Lincoln Memorial was at the time one of the largest demonstrations in Washington history. More than 250,000 people attended the speech. The speech took place during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  The iconic speech, however, was not King’s first at Lincoln memorial. He delivered his first national address at the monument, where he spoke on the topic of voting rights.

– Caitlin Zusy 

 

 

Sources: CNN, History
Photo: Seattle Times

liu_xiaobo
For the last five years, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has been detained and serving a sentenced term in prison.

In 2008, Liu was confined for participating in Charter 08, which was a manifesto that called for democratic reforms in China. Due to this, Liu is now serving an 11 year sentence “for inciting subversion of state power.”

In light of Liu’s fifth anniversary of imprisonment, the world also experienced a devastating loss with the passing of Nelson Mandela. Coincidentally, Liu has been dubbed the moniker of “The Nelson Mandela of China.”

Both individuals earned prison time for the same efforts that also landed them their Nobel Peace Prizes. The Chinese government became highly uncomfortable at the similarities of these two individuals, and at the timing of the events.

No different than the rest of the world’s media, China aired coverage of the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. The coverage was censored, however, and excluded any “sensitive topics” that would have correlated directly to human rights and democracy or South Africa’s close diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.

United States Secretary of State John Kerry honored the anniversary of Liu’s imprisonment by providing a statement, prodding China to release Liu from prison, and his wife from her house arrest. Chinese foreign ministry responded by saying that Kerry “had no right to comment on the fate of Mr. and Ms. Liu.”

Chinese foreign ministry also went on to say that “China’s 1.3 billion people have the best right to talk about the country’s human rights.” Although various parts of the world consider Liu to be the “Mandela of China,” Chinese government abhors the comparison between the two individuals.

An editorial in Global Times was quoted saying, “Mandela was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for leading African people to anti-apartheid victory through struggles, tolerance, and efforts to bridge differences. However, awarding a Chinese prisoner who confronted authorities and was rejected by mainstream Chinese society derides China’s judiciary system.”

Yet at one point in time, South African authorities also considered Mandela a “prisoner who confronted authorities and was rejected by ‘mainstream’ society.”

As of November of this year, Liu’s lawyer released a statement saying that “the dissident intends to ask for a retrial.”

Retrials are not common, but with so much pressure from western countries, there may be an interesting turn of events. Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights was quoted saying that the chances of winning a retrial were small, but nonetheless, worth a shot with new leadership in place.

Liu Xia, the wife that is on house arrest, is believed to be suffering from severe depression. She has been denied any private medical care, and was financially dependent upon her brother until he too was jailed in 2011.

Xia and her brother have yet to be charged with an actual crime, other than the support of Liu and his efforts. Chinese officials have yet to acknowledge that Xia is even being detained. As the U.S continues to build a relationship with China, they hope to see progress made for Liu and his loved ones.

– Samaria Garrett

Sources: The Guardian, The Guardian, US News

Elie_Wiesel
In 1986 when a committee in Oslo, Norway, awarded Elie Wiesel with the Nobel Peace Prize, they named him one of the “most important spiritual leaders and guides in an age when violence, repression and racism continue to characterize the world.” More than twenty years later, this sentiment still rings true. While the world continues to change, Wiesel’s testimony of peace, atonement, and human dignity holds; the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.

Born on September 30, 1928, in Sighte, Romania, Wiesel was raised in a devout Jewish family. When Elie was fourteen years old, the deportation of Hungarian Jews began. Subsequently, Elie and his three sisters and parents were packed into wagons and transported to Auschwitz.

The screams of a madwoman and the smell of burning human flesh greeted the Wiesels. This would be the last time Wiesel saw his mother and youngest sister, who were sent into gas chambers after “selection.” This moment would haunt Wiesel for the rest of his life.

“Never shall I forget that night . . . which has turned my life into one long night. . . . Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.” He described in his semi-autobiographical novel Night, “Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live.”

His father later died while being transported to Buchenwald. Despite the horrors endured by Wiesel during his time in Auschwitz, Wiesel remains startlingly altruistic. His main concern was never to seek revenge, but to prevent the recurrence of the events. His books give an eyewitness account of the horrors undertaken by the Nazi Regime while analyzing the reasons behind the events.

Wiesel aims to awaken the consciousness. It is not the number of the victims, nor the human slaughter factories that Elie Wisel wants us to address. It is the ease in which people so quickly adopted a philosophy in which being a Jew was a crime.

He does not want to gain sympathy from the world, because what has happened, happened. Rather he wants an answer to the question: what are we doing now to prevent it from happening again?

Elie Wiesel was released from Buchenwald in the spring of 1945. With other Jewish children, he was sent to France and studied at the Sorbonne until he left for the U.S. to become a journalist.

Tormented by his time in Auschwitz, it took Wiesel ten years to finally put his experience on paper. His first novel, Night, was written in Yiddish with the simple intention of being a coping mechanism; it has now sold over 6 million copies and has been translated in over 30 languages.

Wiesel’s story, which initially would not be published because many deemed it too depressing, is now one that inspires people from all backgrounds. His message has attained a universal degree. It is the communication of human to humankind. The fight for freedom and human dignity is not an isolated case that we have now overcome, but is an ongoing lesson to never forget the past.

Elie Wiesel is an honorary professor at City College in New York and also holds a professorship in humanities at Boston University. He is the leader of the American Holocaust Commission, and has written 26 full-length books.

Wiesel at one point had been reduced to a number on his wrist, prisoner A 7713. Today, rather than embarking on a mission of revenge, he says, “I will conquer our murderers by attempting to reconstruct what they destroyed.”

No description of the death camps could ever accurately portray what unfolded within them, and any attempts would seem to shame the dead. Remaining silent, however, would be an even greater betrayal. With that, Wiesel took pen to paper and spoke to the world. The dead, ultimately, should not have to die in vain.

Elie Wiesel, when finally released, stared at his skeletal figure reflected in the mirror, and could only ask, “why me?” The only answer to that question was to speak of the horrors that occurred. As a seventeen-year-old boy with little education, his voice was not loud, and his words were not complex. Nevertheless, they were said, and more importantly, they were heard.

The power and tenacity of the human spirit was tested during the dark years of 1939 to 1945. Though many may be tempted to believe that the unthinkable shall never repeat, compliance and silence cause us to quickly forget. But we must remember, as Wiesel teaches us, that those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

– Chloe Nevitt
Feature Writer

Sources: SparkNotes, Nobel Prize
Photo: Clive Davis

Nobel peace price borgen project
The Nobel Peace Prize is the most distinguished prize in the world. Every year, one individual “who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses” is awarded the prize. The prize is the stuff of myth in terms of both prestige and mystery: how and why was it ever conceived? Why is the Peace Prize so legendary and illustrious?

In 1895, Swedish industrial magnate Alfred Bernhard Nobel hand-drafted the first conceptions of the prestigious Nobel Prizes in his will. Nobel left his vast wealth for the awarding of five annual prizes to five individuals in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology/Medicine, Literature, and, most prestigious of all, Peace.

The man behind the prize is a character steeped in paradox and enigma. Son of salt-of-the-earth inventor and builder Immanuel Nobel, Alfred Nobel’s childhood was filled with frequent moving and change from Stockholm to St. Petersburg, and from modest means to bourgeois status. Growing up, Nobel was a quiet intellectual who preferred the solitude of philosophy books and writing; his weak health surely contributed to his broody temperaments.

Alfred Nobel, along with his brothers, was tutored to become fluent in five languages, and taught fundamental mathematics, physics, and chemistry while in St. Petersburg. He eventually received training to become a chemist and engineer, leading to his invention of dynamite as well as other explosives used in modern warfare. Ironic, for the man who would become posthumously famous for the most famous prize in world peace, explosives was Nobel’s industry and base for wealth.

It is suggested by historians that his belated adjustments to his will to include the Prizes were inspired by a poignant but nevertheless strange occurrence. When his brother died in Cannes, France in 1888, the French papers mistook his brother for the Alfred Nobel. The headlines read: “Le marchand de la mort est mort” (“The Merchant of Death is dead”). His brother’s obituary was eerily a dress rehearsal for his own—one that he did not want for himself for when his time finally came. Historians conclude that Nobel, who was also a philosopher and pacifist, belatedly added the prizes to his will to ameliorate his fears of posthumous disrepute.

The curious case of Alfred Nobel aside, the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize is an undeniable medium of both change and historic record. Reading the accomplishments of the award through its 110 years is to turn through the pages of Modern history.

For example, there were no prizes for award peace during the tumultuous First World War that ended with no victors—only a whimper. The only prize awarded during the war years was to the Red Cross. The same occurred during WWII.

In the 1990s, “Pluralist Globalization” seemed to be the theme of the prizes. In 1990 for example, Mikhail Gorbachev was controversially awarded the Peace Prize because The Norwegian Nobel Committee had seen that he had done the most to end the Cold War. In 1993 Nelson Mandela and Frederick Willem de Klerk were award the Peace Prize for their work towards ending the violence and oppression of Apartied in South Africa.

But above all controversy and politics, the prize paints an enduring narrative of the human desire for salvation from suffering and war.

– Malika Gumpangkum

Sources: Britannica, Nobel Prize, Sweden
Photo: ABC

10-facts-nobel-peace-prize
It is a prize that is both coveted and renowned worldwide. As the date of announcement grows closer, here are ten facts to know about the Nobel Peace Prize.

  1. This year the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced at 11:00 AM on October 9, 2013 by Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
  2. Every year, the Nobel Prize (including the Peace Prize) is awarded in Oslo, Norway and administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace.
  3. There is a 50 Year Secrecy Rule in regard to the prize nominees and the grounds they were selected. The Committee does not announce the names of nominees to either the media or the candidates themselves.
  4. Since 1901, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 93 times to 124 laureates. It was not awarded on 19 occasions: in 1914-1918, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1939- 1943, 1948, 1955-1956, 1966-1967 and 1972.
  5. The Nobel Peace Prize 2011 was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”.
  6. Of the 100 individuals awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, 15 are women. The first time a Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a woman was in 1905, to Bertha von Suttner.
  7. The work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been honored the most – three times – by a Nobel Peace Prize.
  8. The Vietnamese politician Le Duc Tho, awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, is the only person who has declined the Nobel Peace Prize. They were both awarded the Prize for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Le Doc Tho said that he was not in a position to accept the Nobel Prize, citing the situation in Vietnam as his reason.
  9. The oldest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate to date is Joseph Rotblat, who was 87 years old when he was awarded the Prize in 1995.
  10. To date, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate is Tawakkol Karman, 32 years old when awarded the 2011 Peace Prize.

-Kira Maixner
Source: Nobel Prize
Photo: Essence