"I think that change comes about at the margins. I've always believed that. People in the center are not going to be the big change makers. You've got to put yourself at the margins and be willing to risk in order to make change."
—Frances Kissling

Today, on Martin Luther King Day, we're wrapping up a new show with Frances Kissling, a vocal leader in the public conversation about abortion for over three decades. Her belief that change comes about at the margins reminds me of Moses (Mose) Wright, a Mississippi minister and sharecropper whose personal act of bravery sowed the roots of what would become a burgeoning civil rights struggle in the South.

Wright is best-remembered as the great uncle of Emmett Till, a 14-year old boy from Chicago who was viciously beaten and murdered in Mississippi during the summer of 1955 by two white men for allegedly talking to a white woman. Wright testified in court and publicly identified the defendants, with two simple words "Dar he." ("There he is.") At that time, Wright assumed great personal risk by bucking social conventions codified by segregation. Newspaper accounts of the day took note of remarkable actions. His life was threatened but he did not back down.

After the trial (the two men were acquitted and later admitted to the murder), Wright left Mississippi for Chicago, vowing never to return. While his personal act of dignified bravery didn't affect the trial's final outcome, he demonstrated that the tacit rules of segregation could be questioned.

To commemorate Martin Luther King Day and learn more about Mose Wright's heroism and the role of Emmett Till's murder in galvanizing what was then a civil rights movement still in its infancy, watch this excerpt from the award-winning series, Eyes on the Prize.

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NPR ran a story about Clarence Jones who helped MLK with his "I Have a Dream Speech" (imagne!). He told the very engrossing story and there are two things I took away:

1) MLK was into his speech and standing by him was his favorite singer, Mahalia Jackson. He ws going on and going on and it was Mahalia who told him "Tell about your Dream, tell about your dream!" and that's how it got into the speech. Maybe without Mahalia, it wouldn't have been included!

2) Clarence was not about to go to Selma when MLK telephoned him to ask him to join the march, saying he wasn't ready to do it. Then MLK came to Clarence's house to ask him personally and was again refused. Clarence was then invited to go to hear MLK preach at church and it was Clarence's wife who talked him into attending. I won't tell the rest, you can get the rest online (NPR > Clarence Jones. Great story, check it out!

A shoutout for "Born Yesterday" with Judy Holiday and Bill Holden, not the remake. It's such a charming story with Holiday, a mobster's girlfriend, being coached by Holden about American values, the Constitution and the whole bit. A really feel-good-about-America story and not flag-waving at all!

Note: The byline for these comments should be for me, Frank Luke, and are erroneously credited.