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black history month, martin luther king

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When Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, he was met by nearly 250,000 people. Traveling from all over the country to participate in the March on Washington, this crowd became part of one of the most iconic and pivotal moments in civil rights history.

Joining those thousands at the Lincoln Memorial was Ledger Smith, a 27-year-old athlete and entertainer who traveled all the way from Chicago … on roller skates.

Ledger’s story might be lesser known, but it’s an inspiring one.


As a semiprofessional skater, Smith, better known as “Roller Man,” was known for his impressive tricks.

Deciding to really put his skills to the test, Ledger skated 685 miles, from Chicago to Washington, D.C. … for 10 straight days. My legs are sore just thinking about it.

When a 1963 publication of the Baltimore Afro-American asked him why, Smith replied that it was “to dramatize the march,” adding that he “did it in the slowest way.”

To prepare for his journey, Smith ran 5 miles every day for two weeks prior. And after skating for 10 hours a day for a little over a week, he arrived having lost 10 pounds.

black heroes

"Roller Man" Ledger Smith.

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Wearing a freedom sign across his chest, Ledger helped spread inspiration along his route. He wasn’t always met with encouragement. At one point a man had tried to run him down with a car in Fort Wayne, Indiana, according to a radio interview with WAMU.

Still, Ledger was also met by well wishers. The Afro-American reported that many people along the highway, some of them white, wished Ledger good luck, saying that they’d see him in Washington.

Determination (and incredible stamina) overcame the obstacles. Because on Tuesday, Ledger arrived, “sore, aching, but hoping he was 700 miles closer to freedom,” according to the report.

Ledger met up with his wife—who decided to go the more traditional route and travel by train—along with celebrities, activists and protestors to take part in the massive March on Washington. The couple witnessed firsthand the words that would become a beacon of hope for the future, and an emblem of black resilience.

Following nine other speakers, King had only planned on being at the podium for four minutes. But when prompted by gospel star Mahalia Jackson to “tell ‘em about the dream,” he stood on stage and spoke for 16 minutes. Though the speech notably ties in themes from the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, Shakespeare and the Bible, its most famous section was completely improvised.

Full of poetry and vigor, King challenged his community to “not wallow in the valley of despair,” and painted the picture of “walking together as sisters and brothers,” where King called it his dream, but it was Ledger’s dream too, along with countless others who arrived that day.

Ledger’s journey to Washington powerfully symbolizes the great lengths that African Americans had endured, were enduring—and still are enduring—to attain equality. But for Ledger, and the thousands that joined him, no distance was too great, if the long road leads to “free at last.”

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

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