Fanning the Flames: The Freedom Project Blog

1.15.2007

Happy 78th Birthday MLK!

By Shawn Healy
Today we celebrate the 78th birthday of famed civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. At the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum we tell the story of freedom in American through the lens of the First Amendment, and no American better epitomizes this narrative than Martin Luther King, Jr. His life embodies the use of the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment.

RELIGION: An ordained minister with a PhD in theology, King used the power of moral suasion to nudge a people away from racial apartheid.

SPEECH: MLK's address atop the steps of the Lincoln Memorial gave a benediction to the 1963 March on Washington. His eloquence allowed his words to transcend race, leading to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act one year later.

PRESS: King's 1963 Letter From Birmingham Jail protests his arrest for parading without a permit. Through the power of the pen MLK makes a case that an unjust law is no law at all.

ASSEMBLY: King orchestrated a 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to demand voting rights for all citizens. Demonstrators were heckled, threatened, even beaten (by authorities in some cases). Congress responded with the Voting Rights Act later in the same year.

PETITION: King rose to the forefront of the civil rights movement by coordinating the 1955 boycott of the Montgomery, Alabama, bus system after Rosa Parks was denied a seat at the front of the bus. After nine months the city responded by desegregating the system, proving the power of civil disobedience, King's mantra from this point forward.

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SHAWN HEALY

Managing Director

McCormick Freedom Project

Shawn is responsible for overseeing and managing the operations associated with the McCormick Freedom Project. Additionally, he serves as the in house content expert and voice of museum through public speaking and original scholarship. Before joining the Freedom Project, he taught American Government, Economics, American History, and Chicago History at Community High School in West Chicago, IL and Sheboygan North High School in Wisconsin.

Shawn is a doctoral candidate within the Political Science Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received his MA in Political Science. He is a 2001 James Madison Fellow from the State of Wisconsin and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, History, and Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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About Fanning the Flames and the McCormick Freedom Project


Fanning the Flames is a blog of the McCormick Freedom Project, which was started in 2006 by museum managing director Shawn Healy. The blog highlights the news of the day, in hopes of engaging readers in dialogue about freedom issues. Any views or opinions expressed on this blog represent those of the writers alone and do not represent an official opinion of the McCormick Freedom Project.



Founded in 2005, the McCormick Freedom Project is part of the McCormick Foundation. The Freedom Project’s mission is to enable informed and engaged participation in our democracy by demonstrating the relevance of the First Amendment and the role it plays in the ongoing struggle to define and defend freedom. The museum offers programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public.


First Amendment journalism initiative


The Freedom Project recently launched a new reporting initiative with professional journalists Tim McNulty and Jamie Loo. The goal is to expand and promote the benefits of lifelong civic engagement among citizens of all ages, through original reporting, commentary and news aggregation on First Amendment and freedom issues. Please visit the McCormick Freedom Project's news Web site, The Post-Exchange at



Dave Anderson
Vice President of Civic Programs
McCormick Foundation

Tim McNulty
Senior Journalist
McCormick Freedom Project


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