Walt Whitman quote on Abraham Lincoln death

Walt Whitman portrait

“Of all the days of the war, there are two especially I can never forget. Those were the day following the news, in New York and Brooklyn, of that first Bull Run defeat, and the day of Abraham Lincoln’s death. I was home in Brooklyn on both occasions. The day of the murder we heard the news very early in the morning. Mother prepared breakfast—and other meals afterward—as usual; but not a mouthful was eaten all day by either of us. We each drank half a cup of coffee; that was all. Little was said. We got every newspaper morning and evening, and the frequent extras of that period, and pass’d them silently to each other.”

– Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman quote on Abraham Lincoln death sources: Portrait of Walt Whitman taken in 1887 – Cox, George C, photographer. Walt Whitman. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2005681122/>. / Complete Prose Works Specimen Days and Collect

John Brown quote about life during slavery

John Brown portrait

“Betty Moore had three daughters. The eldest was married to one Burrell Williams, who acted as Betty’s overseer. The second was the wife of one James Davis; and the third was unmarried, when I first began to notice the persons about us. At last the third got married to one Billy Bell, and then I experienced my first serious tribulation.

        According to the will left by old Moore, the slave-property was to be equally divided amongst the mother and the three daughters, when the youngest married. About a month after this event, it began to be talked about that the distribution was soon going to take place. I remember well the grief this caused us to feel, and how the women and the men used to whisper to one another when they thought nobody was by, and meet at night, or get together in the field when they had an opportunity, to talk about what was coming. They would speculate, too, on the prospects they had of being separated; to whose lot they and their children were likely to fall, and whether the husbands would go with their wives. The women who had young children cried very much. My mother did, and took to kissing us a good deal oftener. This uneasiness increased as the time wore on, for though we did not know when the great trouble would fall upon us, we all knew it would come, and were looking forward to it with very sorrowful hearts. At last, one afternoon, James Davis, the husband of Betty’s second daughter, rode into the yard. This man had a dreadful name for cruelty. He was the terror of his own negroes, as well as of his neighbour’s. When we young ones saw him, we ran away and hid ourselves. In the evening orders came to the negroes, at their quarters, to be up at the big house by nine the next morning. Then we knew our great trouble was come.

        It was a bright, sun-shiny morning, in the autumn season, at about the commencement of tobacco-cutting time. At the appointed hour, nearly the whole of us had congregated in the great yard, under the big sycamore tree. A fourth part of the negroes on the estate, had been kept back by Betty Moore, as her share, her husband’s will giving her the right of making a selection. Besides these, she had taken my brother Silas and my sister Lucy, whom she reserved on behalf of her eldest daughter, the wife of Burrell Williams. They were fine, strong children, and it was arranged they should remain with Betty till she died, and then revert to Burrell Williams. All who were there stood together, facing the Executors, or Committee as they were called, who sat on chairs under the same sycamore tree I have spoken of. Burrell Williams, James Davis, and Billy Bell, held themselves aloof, and did not in any manner interfere with the proceedings of the Committee, who told us off into three lots, each lot consisting of about twenty-five or thirty, as near as I can recollect. As there was a good deal of difference in the value of the slaves, individually, some being stronger than others, or more likely, the allotments were regulated so as to equalize the value of each division. For instance, my brother Silas and my sister Lucy, who belonged rightly to the gang of which I and my mother and other members of the family formed a part, were replaced by two of my cousin Annikie’s children, a boy and a girl; the first called Henry, the other mason, who were weak and sickly. When the lots had been told off, the names of the men, women, and children composing them were written on three slips of paper, and these were put into a hat. Burrell Williams then came forward and drew. James Davis followed, and Billy Bell came last. The lot in which I and my mother were, was drawn by James Davis. Each slip was then signed by the Committee, and the lot turned over to the new owner.

        By about two o’clock, the business was concluded, and we were permitted to have the rest of the day to ourselves. It was a heart-rending scene when we all got together again, there was so much crying and wailing. I really thought my mother would have died of grief at being obliged to leave her two children, her mother, and her relations behind. But it was of no use lamenting, and as we were to start early next morning, the few things we had were put together that night, and we completed our preparations for parting for life by kissing one another over and over again, and saying good bye till some of us little ones fell asleep.”

– John Brown

John Brown quote about life during slavery sources: John Brown, fl. 1854 and Louis Alexis Chamerovzow, Slave Life in Georgia: A Narrative of the Life, Sufferings, and Escape of John Brown, a Fugitive Slave, Now in England / Documenting the American South, University Library at the University of North Carolina

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Civil Rights Leader

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. portrait


Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed in nonviolent resistance as the path to gaining equal rights for Black Americans. He stood by this principle through many setbacks, always guiding with words of friendship, understanding, and unity. And as a result, his leadership in the Civil Rights movement helped steer a nation’s conscience, moving equal rights closer to the ideals the U.S. was founded on.


Martin was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15th, 1929. He described the community of his upbringing as wholesome and religious, average in income, and one of little crime. Yet even there, he experienced racism at a young age. When Martin was about six years old, the father of a white playmate refused to let the children continue a friendship because of their different races. 

Martin’s parents helped the young boy cope with such experiences. “My mother confronted the age-old problem of the Negro parent in America: how to explain discrimination and segregation to a small child…Then she said the words that almost every Negro hears before he can yet understand the injustice that makes them necessary: ‘You are as good as anyone,'” Martin wrote.

In his father, Martin saw an example of one who stood up to racism. In one instance, as Martin and his father were driving, a policeman pulled up and said, “All right, boy, pull over and let me see your license.” Martin’s father replied, “Let me make it clear to you that you aren’t talking to a boy. If you persist in referring to me as boy, I will be forced to act as if I don’t hear a word you are saying.”

While Martin experienced many such incidents of racism towards the Black community, he also experienced economic injustice that impacted a broader swath of society. Working at a plant for two summers as a teen, he observed the exploitation of poor white people. In his words, “Through these early experiences I grew up deeply conscious of the varieties of injustice in our society.”

At home, Martin was raised in a devout household. His father served as pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Religion was an important part of Martin’s upbringing. Even though he questioned his faith at times, religion would serve as a core foundation for his views and become integral to his life.

Civil Rights Movement

After attending Morehouse College for undergraduate study, Martin entered a Ph.D. program in systematic theology at Boston University. While there, the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, invited Martin to become their pastor. He accepted, completing his studies while working.

As pastor of the church, Martin also began taking leadership responsibilities in the Civil Rights movement. After Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus in 1955, Martin was asked to lead what would become the more than year-long Montgomery Bus Boycott.

During the boycott, Martin was arrested, imprisoned, and his home was bombed. Many others in the community experienced much hardship during the time as well. But the boycott led to changes, as the ruling in Browder v. Gayle at the United States District Court prohibited racial segregation on the public bus lines in Montgomery. And for Martin, he began to view boycotts as the community saying, “We can no longer lend our cooperation to an evil system.”

The years after took Martin through many marches, sit-ins, boycotts, and other forms of nonviolent resistance in advocating for progress. Arrested and imprisoned often, attacked, he continued preaching nonviolent resistance and unity. And with the movement came changes, both at the local level and with federal legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.  


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4th, 1968.

Amongst his many wisdoms and aspirations, the following is an excerpt from Martin’s famous “I have a dream” speech:

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.”

Note: While this biography doesn’t delve into Martin’s marriage to Coretta, we’d like to include the following quote from Martin: “I am convinced that if I had not had a wife with the fortitude, strength, and calmness of Coretta, I could not have stood up amid the ordeals and tensions surrounding the Montgomery movement. In the darkest moments, she always brought the light of hope.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Civil Rights Leader sources:

Photograph of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taken in 1964 – Demarsico, Dick, photographer. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., half-length portrait, facing front / World Telegram & Sun photo by Dick DeMarsico. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/00651714/>.

King, Martin L, and Clayborne Carson. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Intellectual Properties Management in association with Warner Books, 1998.

King, Martin Luther. I Have a Dream. HarperOne, 1991.

Coretta Scott King quote: “My father was one…

Coretta Scott King portrait

“My father was one of the most fearless men I’ve ever met. The racial pressure on him was relentless, but it never broke him. Growing up, he provided me with incredible examples of courage. He stood at only about five feet seven inches, but he was a powerhouse. Curiously enough, he was resented because he was a hard worker and independent. He believed in rising before the sun, and would always tell us kids, ‘Get up early even if you don’t do anything but sit down, so you won’t be lazy.’ By 4:00am, hours before daybreak, he would begin to haul lumber. He was the only black man around who had a truck, which he used to transport logs. He also cut hair, collected and sold scrap iron, and did other odd jobs to pick up extra money.

It seemed like my father was always being threatened, especially when he hauled his lumber to the train station. The whites, who were angry because he was in competition with them, would lie in wait, stop him on the road, pull out their guns, and curse him, calling him every name they could think of. He told us he never took his eyes off them. ‘If you look a white man straight in the eyes, he can’t harm you,’ he said. When he was threatened, the other black men who worked with him were so frightened they would disappear into the woods, leaving my dad alone. But he never ran. If he had, they might have shot him in the back.

At some point, in the face of these constant threats, he began carrying a gun. Now, my daddy wouldn’t have killed a soul, but he placed the gun in the glove compartment of his truck, which he left open so that anyone could see he had it. He wasn’t trying to intimidate his attackers. He was just letting them know he wasn’t unarmed. Once, I overheard him telling Mother, “I don’t know if I’ll get back tonight because they just might kill me.” Every time we heard a car coming, and it wasn’t my dad’s, my sister and I would tremble. We thought it was somebody coming to tell us our dad had been killed.”

– Coretta Scott King

Coretta Scott King quote: “My father was one… sources: Portrait of Coretta Scott King taken in 1964 – Coretta Scott King, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2008677732/>. / Quote from King, Coretta S, and Barbara A. Reynolds. My Life, My Love, My Legacy. , 2017. Print.

President Abraham Lincoln letter to General Grant

President Abraham Lincoln portrait

Major General Grant,
My dear General

I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do, what you finally did—march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port- -Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join Gen. Banks; and when you turned Northward East of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong. Yours very truly


President Abraham Lincoln letter to General Grant sources: Portrait of President Abraham Lincoln taken by Alexander Gardner in 1863 – Wikimedia Commons / Letter to General Grant written on July 13, 1863 – Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 6. Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

James Baldwin quote: “You think your pain…

James Baldwin Portrait

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was Dostoevsky and Dickens who taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who ever had been alive. Only if we face these open wounds in ourselves can we understand them in other people. An artist is a sort of emotional or spiritual historian. His role is to make you realize the doom and glory of knowing who you are and what you are. He has to tell, because nobody else can tell, what it is like to be alive.”

– James Baldwin

James Baldwin quote: “You think your pain… sources: James Baldwin Wikiquote / As quoted in “Doom and glory of knowing who you are” by Jane Howard, in LIFE magazine, Vol. 54, No. 21 (24 May 1963), p. 89 / Portrait of James Baldwin taken in 1969 by Allan Warren (no changes made) – Wikimedia

Portrait of Union Army nurse Major Belle Reynolds

Portrait of Union Army nurse Major Belle Reynolds

Portrait of Union Army nurse Major Belle Reynolds. Taken in 1862 during the U.S. Civil War.

Described as “tall, handsome, and vivacious,” Belle survived the war and practiced medicine for years after. She passed away in 1937 at the age of 96.

Portrait of Union Army nurse Major Belle Reynolds sources: Cole, R. M, photographer. Union nurse Major Belle Reynolds. [New-York ; Published by E. & H.T. Anthony, No. 501 Broadway] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/2018652229/> All the daring of the soldier by Elizabeth D. Leonard, W.W. Norton & Co, 1999 / Belle Reynolds Wikipedia