Accessibility links

Breaking News

AMERICAN MOSAIC - January 18, 2002: Music by Cole Porter/Muhammad Ali turns 60/Martin Luther King holiday - 2002-01-17


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today we:

play music written by Cole Porter ...

tell about a man who may be Americas’s most famous athlete ...

and report about the holiday that honors Martin Luther King Junior.

Martin Luther King Junior


Monday, January twenty-first is Martin Luther King Day in the United States. It celebrates the life and work of the American civil rights leader. Sarah Long tells us about him.


Martin Luther King Junior was born on January fifteenth, Nineteen-Twenty-Nine in 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 blacks to attend separate schools and live in separate areas of the city. Blacks did not have the same civil rights as whites.

Martin Luther King 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. She sat in a seat saved for white people. She refused to move. She was arrested.

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

Each year, Americans celebrate Martin Luther King’s life and work on the Monday nearest his birthday. Schools and government offices are closed. Cities and towns hold special ceremonies to honor him. These include music events, readings and movies.

For more information about the life and work of Martin Luther King Junior, listen Sunday to the broadcast of the Special English program PEOPLE IN AMERICA.

Muhammad Ali


Yesterday, January seventeenth, was the birthday of American boxing champion Muhammad Ali. He was sixty years old. Muhammad Ali is the only professional boxer to win the heavyweight championship three times. Shep O’Neal tells us about him.


He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in Nineteen-Forty-Two. His parents named him Cassius Clay.

Cassius Clay won a gold medal for boxing at the Nineteen-Sixty Summer Olympic Games in Rome, Italy. He was eighteen years old. Then he became a professional boxer.

Cassius Clay won the heavyweight boxing championship for the first time in Nineteen-Sixty-Four when he defeated Sonny Liston. Then he joined the Black Muslim religion and changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

In Nineteen-Sixty-Seven, Ali refused to serve in the United States army during the Vietnam War. The World Boxing Association took away his title as champion and refused to let him fight again.

A court later found him guilty of refusing to serve in the military. However, in Nineteen-Seventy-One, the United States Supreme Court changed the lower court’s decision. America’s highest court said Ali had the right to refuse to serve in the military because of religious reasons.

Ali re-gained the heavyweight championship in Nineteen-Seventy-Four by defeating George Foreman. He lost the championship to Leon Spinks in Nineteen-Seventy-Eight, then re-gained it by defeating Spinks later that year.

Muhammad Ali often appeared on television. He called himself “The Greatest.” He said his boxing method was to “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” He wrote funny poems about his opponents. He traveled around the world. Ali earned a lot of money as a boxer. He used some it to build schools, hospitals and Islamic religious centers.

Muhammad Ali boxed professionally for twenty-two years. He had more than sixty fights. He retired from boxing in Nineteen-Eighty. The next year, doctors discovered that he had Parkinson’s disease, a nervous system disorder. Ali did not often appear in public after that. But in Nineteen-Ninety-Six, he lit the fire to open the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. He recently attended the opening of a movie made about his life, called “Ali.”

Earlier this month, officials in Los Angeles, California announced they were naming January seventeenth in his honor. They said the city was honoring Muhammad Ali for his boxing skills and his humanitarian work.

Cole Porter


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Peru. Cesar Montanez Revenga asks about American songwriter Cole Porter.

Cole Porter wrote almost one-thousand songs, mostly in the Nineteen-Twenties, Thirties and Forties. Yet they are still being sung and played today. One of his best songs is “Night And Day.” Lena Horne sings it here.


Cole Porter was born in Eighteen-Ninety-One in the state of Indiana. He died in Nineteen-Sixty-Four. He lived in Europe as a young man. He served with the French military during World War One. Cole Porter married Linda Lee Thomas in Nineteen-Nineteen. They were very rich and gave parties for their friends that lasted for days.

Although happily married most of the time, Cole Porter was homosexual. This was both forbidden and accepted in high society at that time. Love affairs between men were not secret. But they could never be admitted publicly.

Cole Porter wrote songs about love, passion and desire. The words were often unexpected and shocking for their time. Here is an example: Susannah McCorkle sings the original words to Cole Porter’s famous song, “Anything Goes.”


Cole Porter won fame as a musical theater writer by the early Nineteen-Thirties. His plays were produced on Broadway in New York City. He had a new play every year or so. We leave you now with one of his most beautiful songs. It was written for the Nineteen-Thirty-Five show “Jubilee.” Ella Fitzgerald sings “Begin the Beguine.”


This is Doug Johnson . I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC — VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Nancy Steinbach and Carolyn Weaver. Our studio engineer was Tom Verba. And our producer was Paul Thompson.