Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (observed).

Just like Abraham Lincoln did a century before him, King possessed the ability to eloquently craft words in a manner that would move the American people.  Perhaps the most famous example of his speeches is his “I Have a Dream” speech; later this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this speech.

You can read the text of the speech here.

Here is a video of the speech:

“The Abolitionists” on “American Experience” on PBS

“The Abolitionists,” a three-part series, airs on American Experience on PBS this January. This series shows how several prominent abolitionists between 1820 and 1865 turned what was at one point a despised fringe movement into a force that changed the United States.

In particular, part 3, which covers the period from 1854–1865, will likely be interesting to those with an interest in the Civil War.

On most PBS stations, part 1 will air this week (January 8, 2013), part 2 next week, and part 3 the week after; check your local listings.

For more information on the series as well as other interactive content, see the web site for “The Abolitionists”.

“American Experience: Death and the Civil War” on PBS

On PBS’ American Experience this week is “Death and the Civil War“. The American Civil War brought death to the American people on a scale never seen before, with hundreds of thousands of deaths. Contending with such death posed challenges for Americans, who worked to improvise new solutions, institutions, and ways with coping with death. Check your local PBS affiliate for dates and times, or you can view the episode online.

Private Nelson Stevens

[Tombstone of Nelson Stevens in Hamilton Cemetery.]In Hamilton Cemetery, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, in an area otherwise devoid of grave markers, lies this marker for Nelson Stevens,

Stevens was born a slave in Virginia, on a tobacco plantation near Lynchburg, in 1832. In the early 1860s he escaped and made his way to Canada.  In 1864 he returned to fight in the Civil War.  He enlisted in the 25th U.S. Colored Troops and saw service in Florida.  After the war he returned to Hamilton, Ontario.  In 1890 he died and was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.  Recent research by Robin McKee turned up the location of Stevens’ grave, which was marked by the stone shown above in 2007.

Here is a video showing Robin McKee of Historical Perspectives and Laura Markey, President of Bay Gardens Funeral Home & Bayview Cemetery, Crematory & Mausoleum discussing Nelson Stevens:

More information: “Unearthing a Civil War” (Hamilton Spectator, May 7, 2007).