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A Day to Dream: Remembering Martin Luther King and His Work

Also: A question from China about the different meanings of ''sale,'' and music from the movie ''Dreamgirls.'' Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We answer a question about sales …

Play some music from a new movie …

And report about a famous American whose life is celebrated about this time every year.

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, January fifteenth, is Martin Luther King Junior Day in the United States. It celebrates the life and work of the great American civil rights leader. Faith Lapidus has more.


Martin Luther King Junior was born on January fifteenth, nineteen twenty-nine, in the southern city of Atlanta, Georgia. His father was a minister of a Christian Baptist Church.

At that time, laws in the American south kept black people separate from white people. The laws forced African-Americans to attend separate schools and live in separate areas of cities. They did not have the same civil rights as white people.

Martin Luther King Junior attended Morehouse College in Atlanta. There he studied the ideas of India's spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi. He also studied American philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Both Gandhi and Thoreau wrote about ways to fight injustice. They urged people to disobey unjust laws, but not to use violence.

Martin Luther King Junior wanted to spread these ideas about peaceful protest. He became a Baptist minister like his father.

He and his wife Coretta moved to Montgomery, Alabama. One day in nineteen fifty-five, a black woman got on a city bus in Montgomery. Rosa Parks sat in a seat saved for white people. She refused to move and was arrested.

Reverend King organized a peaceful protest against the city bus system. The protest succeeded. The United States Supreme Court later ruled that racial separation on the bus system was illegal. Martin Luther King Junior became well known. Groups formed to protest racial separation. He became the leader of the struggle.

Reverend King led many peaceful demonstrations. These included the nineteen sixty-three March on Washington, D.C. He gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech to two hundred thousand people. Reverend King received the Nobel Peace Prize in nineteen-sixty four. He was shot and killed four years later while visiting Memphis, Tennessee.

Each year, Americans celebrate Martin Luther King Junior's life and work on the Monday closest to his birthday. Schools and government offices are closed. Cities and towns hold special ceremonies to honor him.

Sales, Sales and More Sales


Our listener question this week comes from China. George wants to know about an event called a "sale" in the United States.

When a store sells goods or services at a cost lower than usual, it is called a sale. Sales last for a limited time. Then the cost is returned to its usual amount.

There are many kinds of sales. For example, a "back-to-school sale" is held near the beginning of the school year. Parents can save money on clothes and school supplies for their children.

A "midnight madness" event starts very late at night. An "early bird special" sale starts very early in the morning, usually before the sun rises. This kind of sale is popular the day after Thanksgiving in November.

A favorite sale among many people is the "buy one, get one free" sale. You buy one thing and get a second one without cost. When people see the word “free” in an advertisement they know they are getting a good deal.

Another kind of sale is a "going out of business" sale. This is when a storeowner tries to sell all the goods in the store before closing the business permanently.

Let us say the store sells floor coverings. The owner lowers the prices and puts up a sign that says: "Going out of business sale. All items MUST be sold by tomorrow."

People who buy the floor coverings think they are getting a special deal because everything must be sold in a short period of time. Then, days later they see the store did not close permanently. And they see the same sign that claims the store is going out of business. Some business owners really do not end the business. They just want to earn more money.

People also hold their own sales. They hold garage sales and yard sales outside their home. They sell things they no longer want. Groups such as religious centers or schools hold bake sales. They sell, cakes, cookies and other baked goods to raise money.

In America, you can always find a good sale, no matter the day or time of year. There is the Independence Day sale, Veteran's Day sale, clearance sale, sidewalk sale, red tag sale, white sale, blue light special, liquidation sale, half-off sale, warehouse sale, tent sale …


A new movie musical called "Dreamgirls" was released late last month. Barbara Klein tells us about it and plays music from the movie.


The movie "Dreamgirls" is a version of a hit Broadway musical play that opened in nineteen eighty-one. It tells the story of a group of three black female singers, called the Dreams, who became famous in the nineteen sixties. The story is based on the real group called the Supremes.

The movie stars the famous singer Beyonce Knowles as Deena. It also stars Jennifer Hudson as Effie. Hudson was a finalist on the television hit show "American Idol" a few years ago but did not win that singing contest. Critics have praised Hudson's acting and singing in the movie.

"Dreamgirls" takes place in Detroit, Michigan, in the early nineteen sixties. Deena, Effie and the third member of their group, Lorrell, perform in a local singing contest. They do not win the competition. But a car salesman named Curtis Taylor thinks they can become famous. Taylor becomes their manager and producer. He also starts a relationship with Effie who loves him.

The group gets its first big chance as backup singers for James "Thunder" Early, a soul singer played by Eddie Murphy. Here, he sings "Fake Your Way to the Top."


Curtis Taylor wants to make the Dreams popular with white people as well as African-Americans. He replaces Effie with the more beautiful Deena as the lead singer. Effie is later forced out of the group. But she does not go quietly.

Here Jennifer Hudson performs the most famous song in the movie, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going."


The Dreams become famous. Deena becomes the most famous of all. She decides to break away from Taylor's influence over her. At the end of the movie, Beyonce Knowles, as Deena, sings about her new freedom in this song, called "Listen."



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written by Lawan Davis, Shelley Gollust and Nancy Steinbach. Caty Weaver was theproducer. To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site,

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.