The Iron Triangle Articles

How to Minimize Legal Fees for Your Business

Our final guest author this week is Mike Banks, COO of Fund & Grow. Summary of what you’ll learn: Hiring a lawyer for your business can be an expensive affair, irrespective of the type of legal problem you’re dealing with. What’s more, legal fees are complicated, so it’s usually difficult to understand beforehand how much you’ll need to pay. In this article, we’ll walk you through the different methods through which a lawyer’s fees are calculated, and tell you ways in which you can reduce them.

Written by Mike Banks

Mike Banks is the COO of Fund&Grow. He invests in Real Estate in Tampa Bay and surrounding areas.

At some point or another, you may need a lawyer for your business – whether to draft founder agreements, review contracts, handle employment issues, or deal with a lawsuit.

The good news is that, in most cases, you shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for the attorney’s services.

Before we tell you the different ways in which you can reduce legal expenses, let’s discuss the various types of attorney fees.

What are the different ways in which attorney fees are calculated?

There are 3 main ways.

  1. Hourly rate

This is the most common method of fee calculation.

It depends on various factors, such as location, case type, firm, as well the lawyer working on your case.

The hourly rate usually ranges from anywhere between $100 – $400 an hour, although some are more expensive.

In the case of the hourly rate method, the firm keeps a record of how many hours they’ve worked on your case and then bills you accordingly.

You’ll need to pay the hourly fees due, irrespective of whether you win or lose the case.

  1. Flat fee

Flat fees are fixed upfront for a specific service.

The amount can be anything that you and the lawyer agree upon.

Flat fees are generally set for uncomplicated cases where the scope of work is limited.

For example, if you want to draw up a simple will, you can usually get the lawyer to charge you a flat fee.

  1. Contingency fee

In this case, you’ll pay the fee only if a specific predetermined outcome is reached – perhaps if you win the case or reach a settlement.

As an example, let’s assume that you hired a lawyer to sue a doctor for medical malpractice.

As payment, you agree to give the lawyer 40% of the settlement amount.

The lawyer will receive fees only if you win the case.

With contingency cases, attorneys are incentivized to settle cases and not go to trial to maximize the return on their time.

If you lose, there may or may not be fees required for out-of-pocket expenses that the lawyer has to incur – this should all be discussed upfront.

What you should know about legal fees

Before you get into an agreement with a lawyer, you should keep the following rules in mind.

This will help you negotiate the lowest fees without compromising on the quality of service.

  1. As far as lawyer fees as concerned, there is no standard rate. The charges will depend on a variety of factors like the type of work and the going rate for similar cases, the lawyer’s reputation, and so on.
  2. For simple cases, it’s a good idea to comparison shop. Interview a number of lawyers to get an idea of the fee range. Then pick the attorney who suits you best. and are good places to see how attorneys are rated.
  3. A lawyer who charges you extremely low fees may not necessarily be good for you. If they are inexperienced, the drawback will likely cost you more in the long run.
  4. At the same time, you don’t always need to go after the best. If it is a simple requirement, such as drawing up a health care proxy, there is no point in hiring the best lawyer because any decent attorney can do a perfectly good job.
  5. Contingency fees don’t always make sense – especially in cases where it’s obvious that the other party is at fault. In other words, there’s no point in paying 30 – 40% of the settlement amount to your lawyer when you know that the ruling is likely to be in your favor or the case will settle prior to going to trial. Contingency fees are preferable when the risk that you’ll lose the case is greater, or it may span a long period of time and/or may require a lot of billable hours and expert witness fees.

How can you reduce your legal fees?

If you keep the above points in mind before you start looking for a lawyer, you’ll go a long way in keeping the fees low.

Apart from that, remember to:

  1. Negotiate with your lawyer

Some of the ways in which you can reduce fees include negotiating:

  • flat fees instead of an hourly rate
  • hourly rates that’ll be limited to a pre-agreed maximum amount for the entire job
  • fees that are partly fixed and partly based partially on the outcome. This is also known as a success fee – in such cases, you pay hourly fees at reduced rates, along with a bonus if the attorney achieves a specific result.
  • depending on how busy an attorney is, especially for a sole-practitioner, he/she/they may be able to negotiate a lower hourly rate rather than lose your business to someone else.
  1. Figure out the billing method for hourly rates

Here, you should know about the billing increment concept.

In case of hourly rates, the billing increment, or billing unit, is the shortest amount of time for which the employee will bill you.

Let’s say you are paying an hourly rate of $120 and the billing unit is 15 minutes.

In that case, each increment or unit is $30.

Now, billing units are not divisible, so if the work requires lesser time, you’ll still need to pay for a whole increment.

For example, let’s say the lawyer makes a 5-minute phone call on your behalf. In that case, you’ll need to pay $30 – the full fee for one billing increment.

You may be able to negotiate with your lawyer to bill at 6-minute instead of 15-minute intervals – this can save you hundreds of dollars.

Continuing our example, if the hourly rate is $120, a five-minute phone call would now be billed at $12 instead of $30.

When you’re being billed at an hourly rate, it is also important to understand how experienced the lawyer is – for example, an inexperienced lawyer may charge you half the rate of an experienced lawyer but take three times as long to do the work.

For the same reason, whenever you engage the services of a law firm, you must be wary if you are told that a young associate is being assigned to your case at a lower rate.

Even if the firm claims that the associate is being supervised by senior partners, they may take an inordinate amount of time to finish your work, or bill you for research or on-the-job learning.

  1. Review the retainer agreement closely

The retainer agreement acts as a contract between you and your lawyer – it states the work to be done and associated fees.

Read it carefully to make sure that it contains all the fee-related arrangements you made during your negotiations.

The agreement should also contain details like how often you’ll be billed and the billing increments/units that will be used.

Finally, check to see if people, other than the attorney you hired, will work on the case, and at what rate they will be billed – e.g., secretaries and paralegals often bill at a much lower rate.

Going through the agreement closely can help you identify any clauses that might enable the lawyer to charge beyond your expectation. If you see any such thing, speak to your attorney before you sign the agreement.

  1. Watch out for signs of overbilling

You have legal rights that protect you if your attorney tries to overbill you.

Look out for:

  • Bills that are not itemized.
  • Excessive staffing – if your matter is small and uncomplicated, there’s no need for several attorneys to be working on your case.
  • Excessive time to complete tasks, such as legal writing or researching.
  • Failure to delegate – a highly paid lawyer should not waste time on routine legal research and writing – instead they should get that work done by a junior lawyer or paralegal who charges lower rates.
  • Double-billing – the lawyer is not allowed to bill more than one client for a one-time effort that’s being used in multiple cases.
  • Lawyer training expenses – you should not be responsible for the time it takes to train a new lawyer in a new area of law.
  • Unannounced rate changes – a lawyer can’t suddenly start billing you at a higher rate that’s different than what’s contained in your agreement.
  • Charges pertaining to time spent on billing or collections – if you and your lawyer have a discussion over the billing amount, the lawyer can’t charge you for that time.
  • Unreasonable charges relating to office overhead, administrative work, clerical services or secretaries, receptionists, and photocopy operators.

If you’ve been billed on any of the above, you should dispute that charge as you may not be liable for them.

  1. Understand if you can help the attorney in any way

For example, if your attorney needs certain records like a copy of a birth certificate, then you could write the letter to request the same, instead of having your lawyer do it.

You could also set up an arrangement with the lawyer to split the work.

For example, say, you draft an agreement or fill up a form using a standard guide.

The lawyer will then just need to review and finalize it – this will save them time and effort and, in turn, reduce the fees you’ll need to pay.

The Iron Triangle Articles

5 Effective Ways to Consistently Increase Your Voice Search Traffic

Our guest author today is William Weil from Webburgh, Inc. Summary: Voice search technology has revolutionized the way people use the Internet. These days, many users would rather speak into the phone with their search query instead of typing it out. That’s why it’s no longer enough to simply optimize your website for traditional online search – you must now optimize it for voice search as well. In this article, we share five ways by which you can increase your voice search traffic.

Written by William Weil

William Weil runs Webburgh, Inc. and has been doing marketing and software development for 38 years.

At least one-fifth of mobile queries are voice searches – a large number of people today use virtual assistants like Google Assistant, Siri, and Cortana to search for not only information, but also businesses.

What is voice search and why is it so important for your business?

In case of voice search, you speak into the phone to a virtual assistant, such as Siri or Cortana.

The virtual assistant transcribes your speech into text and scans it for questions and commands.

Next, the virtual assistant searches for relevant information in search engines and translates the information back to the user.

This is done either by speaking to the user or by presenting a relevant web page.

People of all age groups use mobile assistants – on the go, with friends, and even in the bathroom!

So, if you want to cater to the rising need of smartphone users, you will have to optimize your website for voice search.

This way, you can increase the chances of your content appearing in the direct answer or rich answer box, as well as the possibility of gaining new customers.

What are some of the ways to optimize your site for voice search?

Luckily, optimizing your site for voice search doesn’t have to be complicated – it’s cost-effective and easy if you follow the suggestions below.

  1. Optimize for local search

Whenever virtual assistants want to find details about local businesses, they turn to Google My Business and other directory listings.

This gives them important information, such as the name, address, and phone number of the business, along with business hours, website, and more – so you must ensure that your business is listed here with all these details.

Additionally, you can include an introduction to your business and describe your products in short and easy to understand sentences.

Make sure you also select the most relevant categories under which your business fits.

This will increase your chances of showing up in relevant voice queries and improve business rankings, too!

Remember that not all virtual assistants use the same search engine – so you want to also list your business on other directories, like Bing Places, Yelp, YellowPages, Apple Maps, Foursquare, Dun & Bradstreet, and so on.

Always post your location, hours, and phone number on your website.

You can also include location-related keywords in your website content and back-end coding.

  1. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

Most verbal questions are asked on mobile, so you need to optimize your site for mobile use if you want to show up in search results for voice queries.

You must specifically incorporate features that are useful for voice search capabilities, for example, AMP pages that help a site load quickly.

This is because when a user asks their virtual assistant a question, they usually get an answer back within a second, but the average web page loads in about 2 seconds.

As far as AMP pages are concerned, they load almost instantly by restricting HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

AMP pages are also automatically cached by Google – in other words, they are temporarily stored so that they do not need to be loaded every time.

When your website loads speedily, you can beat the competition.

Also, pay attention to the design of the website – while reading from a smartphone, users keep their eyes focused on one place and scroll and swipe the page with their fingers.

If there are elements that are too small to read without pinching and pulling, or buttons that are too small to press easily, Google, for one, will penalize the prioritization of your site in search results.

Lastly, to make it easier for the user to skim through your website while using a mobile device, include short sentences, appealing headings, and simple words.

  1. Target long-tail keywords and use conversational language

Voice searches tend to be longer and more conversational than searches on a keyboard.

For example, if you want to make a chocolate cake at home, you might type “chocolate cake recipe” in the search box.

But as far a voice search is concerned, you are more likely to ask longer questions like “How do I make chocolate cake from scratch?”

If your website has closer matches to these longer phrases, it’s more likely to be chosen as a result by the voice search engine.

Thus, it is important to target long-tail keyword phrases and use conversational language while optimizing for voice search.

The idea is to imitate the way people talk and ask questions.

Figure out the type of question keywords used by people, along with their conversational style.

Understand the questions that are being asked the most along with the most appropriate answers to these questions.

Then, create content pages that focus on long-tail keywords and conversational/informal language to effectively optimize your site for mobile search.

  1. Add FAQs to your website

An average voice search answer is about 29 words long – so it can be helpful to have FAQ responses on your website answer queries in less than 30 words.

As you wouldn’t want to create a 30-word blog – it makes more sense to make a FAQ page instead.

What’s more –the FAQ format makes it easy for Google to pull content from your website and display it as a rich snippet.

This in turn improves page rankings.

And how do you identify the questions that you should answer?

Well, one way is to use Google’s autocomplete suggestions – it gives you the most commonly asked questions related to the criteria that you type out.

A second option is to type out keywords on sites like Quora – the search results will show the most commonly asked questions related to these criteria, along with the answers.

Finally, you could just put yourself in the shoes of your target audience – think about the questions that your customers ask of you, or that you feel that they might have.

Then, put up the same (along with the answers) on your FAQ page.

  1. Incorporate structured data

Statistically, 36.4% of voice search results came from pages that use schema markup structured data.

So, if you want search engines to understand the content of your site more clearly, you must incorporate structured data into your website pages.

In particular, Speakable markup is very useful because it was designed specifically for voice search answers.

It lets you identify parts of your content that are written for audio playback, like text-to-speech (TTS).

This markup allows Google to quickly recognize content to play back to the user that will sound natural.

In other words, it’s another one of the effective ways in which you can optimize for voice search.

Voice search is fast becoming the preferred way through which consumers search for information and local businesses.

Why not take advantage?

The Iron Triangle Articles

How to Create the Ultimate Email Drip Campaign

Continuing with another great article from our friends at Fund & Grow, this one is brought to us by CEO Ari Page. This article’s summary: Drip campaigns consist of a series of emails that are automatically sent at regular intervals – the length of the interval is determined by a pre-set schedule, or actions taken by the subscriber. These campaigns are especially useful if you want to learn about your customers or engage with them. In this article, we’ll tell you how to plan your very own email drip campaign to get the best results.

Written by Ari Page

Ari Page is the CEO of Fund&Grow. He resides in Spring Hill, Florida with his wife and two children.

An automated email series tends to have much higher open rates and click-throughs than single emails; and they generate much more sales for less cost.

An email drip campaign is an automated email series that help you achieve a wide variety of goals, such as increasing brand awareness, improving customer engagement, and boosting sales.

What exactly is a drip campaign and why do you need one?

A drip campaign consists of a series of emails that are automatically sent to the subscriber at certain intervals.

These intervals can be preset as per your preference, or you can base them on user actions.

Through drip campaigns, you provide value and/or information to the reader through each email.

What’s unique here is that each email that you send builds upon the previous emails.

So, these campaigns can have a nurturing effect on the reader.

As you gradually share information and provide value to the user, they develop trust in your company, and/or interest in one of your offerings.

It’s a great way to build credibility and create desire for your products and services.

The best part is that the campaign is automated, so you can concentrate your time and efforts on other aspects of your business.

All you need to do is write the emails beforehand – they will be automatically sent to the user at your preset intervals, or actions taken by the user.

Drip campaigns can be used for practically anything – to introduce a consumer to your company and product, to welcome them to your business, to promote your offerings, and so on.

They can also be used to woo back customers who have abandoned their shopping cart, or to get subscribers to renew their subscriptions.

The idea behind a drip campaign is to provide the right person with the right information at the right time, so you can get them to take the desired action.

What are the main steps to creating a drip campaign?

Drip campaigns might sound complicated, but they are quite easy to create. Here’s how.

  1. Define the audience and fix your goal

You need to first identify the groups that you’d be creating the drip campaigns for, along with the action(s) you’d like them to take, i.e., your goal.

For example, you may want to reward existing customers who’ve made purchases worth at least $1,000 from you – so that would be the audience/group you’d be creating the drip campaign for.

Your goal is to increase your sales – so, towards that end, you could offer them a discount code to get them to buy from you again.

  1. Plan the campaign

Here’s where you decide how many emails you will send and in what order, the content of the emails, as well as their triggers.

You must also determine beforehand what parameters you will track to assess the success of the campaign, as well as the tools you will use in so doing.

  1. Write your emails

You need to write each series of emails in such a way that they grabs the user’s attention, give them exactly the right type of information, and, if appropriate, have a clear call to action.

Then specify the time intervals at which you would want the emails to be sent.

Going back to the example mentioned in point #1, you could create a drip campaign of three emails to get existing customers to come back and buy from you again.

In Email #1, you could thank the user for being a prized customer.

In Email #2, send a list of products that they might like, based on previous purchases – to be sent automatically two days after Email #1.

In Email #3, offer a coupon that provides a 10% discount if they buy anything from the list sent in Email #2 – to be sent automatically three days after Email #2.

However, you need not always specify time intervals, you could set triggers, too.

When you set triggers, the next email would be sent to the user only if he takes a certain action that acts as trigger.

For example, Email #3 would be sent to the user only if they click on the More Info link from one of the products listed in Email #2.

  1. Launch the campaign and analyze the results

For launching the campaign, you need to make use of email marketing or marketing automation software.

These will allow you to set up the emails to be sent according to the criteria you choose.

You can set the timing, frequency, design, and wording to match your company values and your specific email purpose.

Finally, analyze the results of the campaign – it will help you understand what worked and what didn’t, and what you should change to improve future results.

Tips to get the most out of your campaign

Now that you know how to create a campaign, we’ll share some useful tips to help you get the most out of it.

  1. Ensure that your subject line fits on a mobile screen – for this to happen, try to make it 38 characters or less. This is important because more than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices.
  2. Have just one call-to-action in each email to minimize distraction.
  3. Add exclusivity or urgency wherever possible to encourage users to take the desired action. For this you can use countdown timers; limited edition offers, or simply an offer expiration date.
  4. Experiment with the frequency of your emails until you hit the sweet spot. If click-through rates are average or high (2-5% and above – depending on your market and the quality of your list – this is a good indication your email frequency is spot-on. Low click-through rates could mean a number of things – you are sending emails too frequently or too far apart, your content isn’t of much value to the reader, or perhaps your call-to-action is unclear.
  5. If unsubscribe rates are high, it is important to understand why. Towards this end, add a short questionnaire to your unsubscribe page. E.g., ask the readers to choose from options like “The content wasn’t interesting…” or “I don’t remember signing up for this…” or “Emails were too frequent…,” etc. Also include a text field so that the user can provide a reason you may not have considered.

Case Study: Netflix

It’s not uncommon to lose out on revenue to due lost subscriptions or disengaged customers.

Here’s the drip campaign that Netflix uses to win them back.

Source: Netflix

Notice how on its cancellation confirmation page, Netflix has added a single call-to-action button to entice the customer to come back.

Being bright red, it is prominent – and there are no other CTAs to distract the attention of the user.

Then, over the next three months, Netflix sends each user a set of customized emails based on their movie preferences to point out what they are missing out on.

Source: Netflix

Notice that the list of movies and shows is personalized – an attempt to woo back the customer by using FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”).

Source: Netflix

Finally, Netflix tries to get back the customer by listing all the benefits enjoyed while they were subscribed – such as access from any device and commercial-free movies and shows.

Sometimes, all you need to do is remind the customer of how useful/enjoyable they found your product, and it’s enough to woo them back.

The Iron Triangle Articles

How to Use Controversial Topics to Expand Your Social Media Reach

Today we bring to you an article shared with us by our friends at Fund & Grow, written by Imran Rahman. A quick summary: On social media, controversial topics get the most coverage because everyone wants to read about them and many like to share their opinions. That’s why it can be rewarding to create content on controversial topics – it can help you reach thousands of people on social media. However, exercise caution while doing so or you may end up losing your reputation and valuable customers as well.

Written By Imran “IR” Rahman

Imran is the CMO of Fund&Grow. He resides in Las Vegas, NV with his wife and daughter.

You may have seen high-profile companies discussing controversial topics or running controversial campaigns on social media.

Such topics and campaigns get a lot of traction which, in turn, helps these businesses expand their social media reach.

But what exactly is a controversial topic?

Controversial topics are those that provoke discussion – they often tap into audience emotion and push the way in which one perceives social boundaries.

They can be about taboo issues; they can elicit shock or even incite debates.

Consider the following example.

This campaign featured Colin Kaepernick.

He was effectively banished from NFL for kneeling during the National Anthem to protest against racial inequality.

No team has signed him since 2016.

However, he stood up for what he believed in, and people connected with that.

Though there were some who opposed this ad, Nike claims their sales rose 31% after its release.

That’s hardly surprising, given that these days younger consumers are more inclined to engage with brands that support strong social causes.

What are the pros and cons of using controversial topics to expand social media reach?

As discussed earlier, controversial topics are a great way to increase your visibility on social media.

But unless you are careful about the topics you choose and the way you handle the campaign and discussion, you could be labeled toxic, demonetized or deplatformed altogether.

Having said that, here are the specific advantages you can hope to receive.

  • Create publicity – discussions that are taboo, shocking, or debatable will often attract attention and rise above the noise that’s ever-present on social media.
  • Generate emotion – You engage best with the audience when you can elicit an emotional response from them, and controversial topics can be a great way to do just that.

Patagonia, an outdoor clothing brand, states that it’s in business to save the planet.

They stick to their words, too, as is evident from things like some of their tweets.

For example, in this tweet they respond to a user as to why they send catalogs, that they send them on recycled paper using non-toxic link, and then they give the user instructions on how to get off their catalog mailing list.

And in another, they explain that the reason they don’t have a Black Friday sale is because, “… it promotes buying more which promotes more waste.”

Now that’s a great way to show commitment to company values and elicit an emotional response from the audience.

  • Start a meaningful conversation – controversial topics can provide a way to take a stand for a cause that is close to your heart – this can inspire a meaningful dialogue with the audience.

For example, in this tweet, Sanofi responds to comedian Roseanne Barr blaming the sedative Ambien for her racism.

“People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

  • Improve sales – there’ll always be people who get offended, but if the majority of your audience connects with your stand, you can experience a boost in customer loyalty, and consequently an increase in your sales figures.

As far as disadvantages are concerned, here are some.

  • People may get offended – there’ll always be individuals on the other side of the fence. So, expect a backlash from a certain section of the audience when you discuss a controversial topic.
  • Loss of audience members/customers – the people who you offend with your discussion or campaign may unfollow you on social media – in other words, you may end up narrowing your demographic to only those who agree with your stance. The worst-case scenario is that the people you offend would completely turn their back on you – and never buy from your company again.
  • Defamation – Unless the issue is dealt with in a sensitive and respectful manner, it can unite your audience against you – which would cause your brand to lose face.
  • You could be demonetized or deplatformed – If the platform on which you post the discussion/campaign sees you as toxic, you could be demonetized or barred from the platform altogether.

Using Controversial Topics

Content is likely to go viral when it inspires emotions like awe, anger, anxiety, etc. because it raises peoples’ passions.

However, in such cases, the discussions can go the other way, too.

To ensure you are more likely to gain, and not lose, by discussing controversial topics, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Choose the right controversy

As mentioned earlier, topics can be shock, taboo, or debatable.

Out of the three, it is most advisable to discuss debatable topics, because unlike the other two, they have valid and rational points.

Moreover, the points can often be backed by data.

Such topics rarely cause damage to the brand because people rarely get offended or hurt.

Keep in mind that choosing the “right” controversy involves making sure that you get the demographics and timing right.

In other words, you’ll need to pick a controversy that aligns with the social values of your target demographic.

Secondly, try to “create” the controversy around a topic that’s currently trending – this will help ensure you garner maximum eyeballs and audience engagement.

To explain this better, let’s say you own a cigar company.

In that case, choosing a controversial topic like a gay pride campaign wouldn’t make sense for your company.

That’s because a part of your target demographic would consist of older, conservative men with traditional values, and as such, it’s unlikely they would support the cause.

On the other hand, this article by apartment location start-up Abodo, is a good example of choosing the right controversy.

Here, the company analyzed tweets for racist language, then ranked states by tolerance level.

The topic would appeal to the target demographic because most individuals looking for an apartment would prefer to stay in a tolerant and peaceful neighborhood.

If you have a young audience, it can be especially beneficial to choose a topic that supports a social cause that’s close to their hearts.

These days, younger consumers are more likely to engage with brands that support strong social causes.

You must also get the timing right – it won’t make much sense raking up a controversial issue that happened a decade ago because the audience would just not be interested in it anymore.

You are more likely to grab attention if you create content around currently trending topics.

  1. Relate the controversy to your business

When you do this, you stand a better chance of garnering comments, likes, shares, and even an increase in sales.

Burger King, the fast food chain known for its Whoppers, tackled the complicated topic of net neutrality.

It launched a commercial where it showed its employees telling angry and confused customers that they would have to pay a premium if they wanted their food quickly.

The commercial “Whopper Neutrality” explained to the audience why repealing regulations around net neutrality would have a negative impact on everyone.

The ad was a huge success – it got more than 4.6 million views on YouTube (in contrast, the average Burger King video usually gets about 286,000 views).

However, in following this strategy, don’t go overboard and focus too much on your products and services instead of the issue at hand, or you may draw flak from the audience for being too self-serving and insincere.

  1. Make sure all team members are on the same page

Because it’s a controversial topic, there’s all the more reason to ensure that your entire team supports your stand, at least publicly.

For this, you must familiarize them with the idea and guidelines beforehand, so that there’s no risk of different team members exercising unwanted views in front of the audience.

  1. Encourage respectful discussion

This is possible if you back your data with facts and present both sides of the topic, just as Abodo did.

They showed not only the states with the most prejudiced tweets, but also the ones with the least prejudiced tweets.

And of course, they backed the entire thing with solid data.

It also helps if you do not use disrespectful or inflammatory language in the content or in the discussion/comments inspired by your content.

You could also request that your audience be respectful – and remove rude comments, if any, from your page.

  1. Create a management system for negative pushback

When you discuss a controversial topic, there’s always going to be people who oppose it.

In such circumstances, you should have a crisis management system in place to deal with all the negativity.

This will help you handle it calmly without taking any hasty, uncalculated steps that could come back to haunt you.

First, make sure that people at the top of the organization take the initiative to handle such pushback – this will give the message that the issue at hand is being taken seriously.

Secondly, be empathetic, sensitive, and tactful while discussing the issue with the audience – this can help manage the problem to a large extent.

  1. Make use of trending hashtags and opinion polls

These are a great source if you want to identify controversial topics and understand audience views about them.

Hashtags for controversial topics trend very quickly, so you can keep track of them on various social media sites like Twitter, and quickly create related content.

Of course, before you go all out and create/post content, you should understand what your audience views are.

For these, opinion polls on Facebook and Instagram can prove handy.

Make sure you craft your content based on the feedback you get from the audience.

Controversial topics can be a double-edged sword – but if done right, they do more good than harm.

To ensure that you gain from such topics, just follow the guidelines that we’ve discussed.

The Iron Triangle Articles

Seven More Historical African-American Influencers Who Have Changed Our Nation

We’ve received such a wonderful response to our last three articles honoring these awe-inspiring African-American men and women that we’ve decided to do a bonus article. Today we focus on several historical influencers that have inspired us by their actions and civil activism that affect us even now.

We begin with Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the first black woman in 1927 to gain admission to the Pennsylvania bar, which began her long career advocating for civil and human rights. But this path was not an easy one, especially at the beginning of the century.

In the fall of 1915, Sadie attended the University of Pennsylvania where she struggled against discrimination from both students and professors. Even so, she went on to get a B.S. in education, then an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics, being the first black woman in the United States to earn a degree. Being she was snubbed by the sorority of Phi Beta Kappa, Sadie served from 1919 to 1923 as the first national president of the black women’s sorority Delta Sigma Theta.

In 1924 Sadie became the first black woman to enroll at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, and she graduated in 1927, gaining admission into the Pennsylvania Bar. This also meant that Sadie was the first African American to hold both a Ph.D. and a J.D. During her legal career, Sadie advocated against racial discrimination, segregation, and employment inequality.

Considered the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in 1794, this minister, educator, and writer is none other than Richard Allen. Born into slavery in Philadelphia in 1760, at age 17 Richard converted to Christianity and began to preach on his plantation as well as local Methodist churches. In fact, one of Allen’s early converts was his owner, and he was so impressed with him that he allowed Allen to purchase his freedom as well as his brother’s for $2,000.

Richard would focus his sermons on the freedom of slaves, ending colonization, education of youths, and abstaining from drinking alcohol. In 1786 Richard joined St. George’s Methodist Church and his leadership at prayer services attracted dozens of blacks into the church, and with them came increased racial tension. This led the white leaders to require black parishioners to sit in chairs against the wall rather than the pews.

In 1787 a group of African Americans sat in some new pews and knelt in prayer, they were told to get up immediately or be forced out. They finished their prayer and then got up and walked out. This was the last straw for Richard, and so he purchased an old frame building, formerly a blacksmith’s shop, and created the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. That church, now with a membership of more than 2.5 million people and 6,000 churches, was the country’s first independent black denomination.

Octavius Valentine Catto is acknowledged as one of the most influential civil rights activists in Philadelphia during the 19th century. Inspired by the Civil War, and became an adamant activist for the abolition of slavery and the establishment of equal rights for all men, regardless of race.

Octavius was a major in the Pennsylvania National Guard and he recruited African Americans to serve in the military. Octavius also led a successful protest for the desegregation of Philadelphia’s public horse-drawn streetcars. In addition to his work as a Civil Rights activist, he was also an educator, scholar, writer, and accomplished baseball player. He ran the undefeated Pythian Baseball Club of Philadelphia that played the first black versus white game and helped to establish Negro League Baseball.

However, Octavius is most remembered for his contribution in the ratification of the 15th amendment to the Constitution, which bars voting discrimination on the basis of race. Unfortunately, Octavius was shot and killed outside his home on October 10, 1871, the first election day that African Americans were allowed to vote. He was only thirty-two.

In 2017, a monument to honor him and his legacy was unveiled on the apron of Philadelphia’s City Hall. It is Philadelphia’s first public statue honoring a solo African American.

Known as “Queen Bess,” Bessie Coleman soared across the sky as the first African American and the first Native American woman pilot. Although much of the world recognizes Amhart and the Wright Brothers for their aviation accomplishments, Bessie continues to inspire future female aviators.

When Bessie’s brothers returned from World War I with stories of women pilots in France, this lit a fire in her to learn to fly as well. American flight schools denied her entry due to both her race and her sex. So, after speaking with Robert Abbot (who you’ll learn about next), she began to take French classes at night to prepare for her education.

Bessie was accepted at the Caudron Brothers’ School of Aviation in Le Crotoy, France, and received her international pilot’s license in just seven months on June 15, 1921, from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Bessie dreamed of owning her own plane and opening her own flight school, so she gave speeches and showed films of her stunt air shows in non-segregated locations to earn money.

In 1922 Bessie performed the first public flight by an African American woman which contained air tricks including the loop-the-loop and figure eights. People so loved and were fascinated by Bessie’s performances that she toured the country and Europe giving flight lessons, performing daring stunt flight shows, and encouraged both African Americans and women to learn how to fly.

Her daring attitude and love of flight paved the way for a new generation of diverse fliers like the Tuskegee airmen, Blackbirds, and Flying Hobos.

Without this pioneer of the black press and his creative vision, many of the prominent black publications (including Ebony, Essence, Jet, Black Enterprise, The Source, and Upscale to name a few) would not exist today. On May 5, 1905, Robert Sengstacke Abbott used an initial investment of 25 cents to launch the Chicago Defender, a four-page weekly newspaper pamphlet that was distributed strictly in black neighborhoods. Just five years later the Chicago Defender began to attract a national audience.

By the beginning of World War I the Chicago Defender became the nation’s most influential black weekly newspaper, and Robert used its influence to wage a successful campaign in support of “The Great Migration.” Robert laid out the welcome mat for the millions of blacks abandoning the Jim Crow South to head to the Windy City, where manufacturing jobs were in abundance due to the needs of the war. 6 million African-Americans from the rural South moved to urban cities in the West, Northeast, and Midwest, with 100,000 settling in Chicago.

After this influx, Robert and the Chicago Defender campaigned for anti-lynching legislation and for integrated sports and spoke out against segregation of the armed forces in the early 40s. The paper also actively challenged segregation in the South during the civil rights era. The success of The Chicago Defender made Robert Abbott one of the nation’s most prominent postslavery black millionaires.

The first African-American to work for the U.S. postal service is none other than “Stagecoach Mary” Fields. Mary began life as a slave and worked for the Warner family in West Virginia until her emancipation in 1863. After acquiring her freedom, Mary traveled up the Mississippi River where she worked on steamboats.

Eventually, Mary ended up in Toledo, Ohio, and began work at the Ursuline Convent of the Sacred Heart, washing laundry, managing the kitchen, and maintaining the garden and grounds. When Mother Superior Amadeus Dunne fell ill, Mary left the convent to join and take care of her at Saint Peter’s Mission in Cascade, Montana. She did many of the same jobs here as she did at the convent, but her wicked temper and crass behavior (as well as her penchant for drinking and smoking in saloons with men) caused her to be relieved of her duties when she had a fight with a male janitor which caused both to draw their guns.

In 1895 when Mary was in her early sixties, she obtained a contract by the United States Post Office Department to be a Star Route Carrier, which was an independent contractor who used a stagecoach to deliver the mail in the harsh weather of northern Montana. Standing six feet tall and powerful in stature, as well as always carrying a rifle and a revolver, bandits learned quickly not to mess with her or her route.

Mary never missed a day of work and proved so reliable that, if the snow was too deep for her horses, Mary delivered the mail on snowshoes, carrying the sacks on her shoulders. During the eight years Mary delivered the mail as a Star Route Carrier, she became beloved by the locals of Cascade, Montana for her fearlessness and generosity, as well as for her kindness to children.

A world-renown writer, drama teacher, and anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston’s short stories, novels, and plays mostly focused on African American life in the South. One of the things that irked her male contemporaries (they often called her a southern bumpkin) was the fact she wrote the way Southern blacks actually spoke, and she had the nerve not to think anything was wrong with it.

Zora started her writing while attending Howard University from 1918 to 1924 co-founding the student-run newspaper The Hilltop. In 1925 Zora received a scholarship to Barnard College, graduating three years later with a B.A. in anthropology. While there she befriended other writers including Langston Hughes and joined the black cultural renaissance taking place in Harlem.

Zora dedicated her time to the study and promotion of black culture, traveling to both Jamaica and Haiti to study the religions of the African diaspora. Zora often incorporated this research into her short stories, a play called Mule Bone she collaborated with Hughes on, and published books between 1934 to 1939. This includes her most popular work The Eyes Were Watching God, chronicling the tumultuous fictional life of the black woman Janie Crawford.

Zora also dedicated herself to the dramatic arts, teaching drama at both Bethune-Cookman College and North Carolina College for Negros at Durham. Unfortunately, Zora wasn’t recognized for her works and accomplishments during her lifetime, remaining in debt and poverty for the remainder of her life. She died of heart disease on January 28, 1960, and her remains were in an unmarked grave until 1972 when fellow author Alice Walker located it and created a marker. Then in 1975 Alice published an essay in Ms. Magazine entitled Looking For Zora which brought a much-needed light on her literary contributions.

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Seven African-American Influencers Who Have Positively Changed Our Nation

Today we finish out this series honoring our African-American brothers and sisters by introducing to you seven influencers who have changed our nation for the better. Now we could have gone the easier route and mentioned President Barak Obama, or the now current Vice President Kamala Harris. We could also mention Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, and even the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. But today we would like to shed light on these more unsung heroes and what they have brought to our society.

We will begin our list with Arthur Ashe, the only black man to ever win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open. He also was the first black player selected to the United States Davis Cup team.

While holding a tennis clinic in July of 1979, Arthur suffered a heart attack and his high profile drew attention to his condition and the hereditary aspect of heart disease. But his health scares didn’t end there. In 1992 Arthur was diagnosed with HIV, believed to have been contacted through blood transfusions during his second heart surgery. After going public with his illness, he founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS, working to raise awareness about the disease and advocated teaching safe sex education.

On June 20, 1993, Ashe was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton.

Before President Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” slogan and Hillary Clinton’s “Stronger Together,” there was Shirley Chisholm’s “Unbought and Unbossed.” Nearly 50 years ago Shirley was the sole black female congresswoman from 1969 to 1983 and was relentless in breaking political barriers with respect to both race and gender. In fact, all those hired for her congressional office were women, and half of them were black.

Shirley championed for the rights of those less fortunate, especially in the establishment of the food stamp program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children program. She also fought for health and social services, including unemployment benefits for domestic workers, as well as providing disadvantaged students the chance to enter college while receiving intensive remedial education.

In 1972, Chisholm became the first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for president of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

Born the same year that the US Supreme Court ruled to end racial segregation in public schools, Ruby Bridges was the first African-American student to integrate an elementary school in the South. Even though she was only six years old, Ruby was advancing the cause of civil rights beginning November of 1960.

Ruby and her mother were escorted to school by four federal marshals every day that year for her safety. Even though crowds of people yelled vicious slurs at her and white parents were pulling their children from the school, Ruby remained undeterred. Barbara Henry, a white Boston native, was the only teacher willing to accept Ruby, and all year, she was a class of one. Ruby ate lunch alone and sometimes played with her teacher at recess, but she never missed a day of school that year.

In 1964, artist Norman Rockwell celebrated her courage with a painting of that first day entitled, “The Problem We All Live With.” A lifelong activist for racial equality, in 1999, Ruby established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and create change through education. In 2000, she was made an honorary deputy marshal in a ceremony in Washington, DC.

An acclaimed dancer and choreographer who earned global recognition for his pioneering impact on modern dance, Alvin Ailey used the art form as a means for civil rights activism. Alvin always had a passion for dance and he honed his technique at the Lester Horton Dance Theatre until its disbandment in 1954.

Alvin had always wanted to choreograph his own works that would differ from the more traditional pieces of the time, and his 1960’s “Revelations” is one of his best-known pieces. The up-from-slavery dance suite finds beauty in the midst of tragedy and pain, celebrates black folks’ resilience and humanity, and allows hope to overcome tribulation.

Alvin died of an AIDS-related illness at 58, but the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater still exists today in New York City.

Now I admit that this next innovator may be a bit more well known, but I just couldn’t leave her out. A poet, dancer, singer, activist, scholar, and world-famous author, Maya Angelou was truly a unique and talented woman. But her path to greatness didn’t come easily.

When Maya was only 8 years old she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. After coming out to her family about it, the man was convicted and sent to jail but was beaten to death shortly after his release. Believing that her confession led to the man’s death, Maya became mute from the guilt and memorized poetry in her silence.

After six years living with her grandmother and the help of a teacher, Maya was able to speak once more, using literature to recover from the horrific trauma. At age 15 she moved back in with her mother and became San Francisco’s first African-American female cable car conductor. At age 16 she got pregnant and later worked in the sex trade and as a calypso singer to support her family. Maya spoke honestly of her experiences, unashamed to walk in the truths of her past.

As she grew in age and experiences, with the help of James Baldwin, she joined the Harlem Writers Guild and went on to write I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1969 — the first in what would become a seven-volume, best-selling autobiographical series. Nearly a decade later, Angelou struck poetic gold with And Still I Rise, a collection that remains one of her most important works.

Often hailed as the “godmother of the women’s movement,” Dorothy Height used her background in education and social work to advance women’s rights. Dorothy attended and graduated from New York University where she received a bachelor’s in education and a master’s in psychology. Her career started as a social worker in Harlem, but she soon joined the staff of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) wherein a short time she became the leader of the local organization. She pushed the YWCA to integrate its facilities and created diverse programs for it nationwide.

Later she began working with the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) where she focused on the restructuring of the criminal justice system and on ending the lynching of African Americans. Dorothy was the president of NCNW for 40 years and under her leadership, the organization supported voter registration in the South.

Due to her prominence in the Civil Rights Movement and unmatched knowledge in organizing, Dorothy helped to organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom where Martin Luther King gave his I Have A Dream speech. On April 20th, 2010, Height passed away at the age of 98. Her funeral was held at Washington National Cathedral.

Even though our own constitution states that all men are created equal, the unfortunate irony of racism is that black athletes once needed to prove themselves athletically equal to whites. However, in the story of Jesse Owens, not only did he break records and defeat the other nations during the 1936 Olympics, he humiliated Adolf Hitler as well.

The German dictator’s popular theories claimed that no dark-skinned person could compete with the blond-haired, blue-eyed “Aryan master race,” but Owens already owned several world records and was recognized as the fastest man alive. He emerged in Berlin as the unquestioned star of the Olympics, setting or equaling records in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter sprint, the 400-meter relay, and long jump.

German crowds enthusiastically applauded his performances, deepening Hitler’s humiliation. Olympic organizers told Hitler to either shake all the winners’ hands or none — he chose none. Unfortunately, racism was still rampant back home with the oppression of Jim Crow laws, so Jesse existed on low-paying jobs such as pumping gas.

Owens’ victories not only shattered the myth of white athletic superiority but established a black man as a heroic standard-bearer for America amid boiling geopolitical conflict. In many ways, he was the first black sports hero for all Americans.

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Ten African-American Inventors You Probably Never Heard Of

Our great nation is often referred to as “the land of dreams” and these dreams have been built by a diverse group of people, especially these 10 great African-American inventors who we celebrate today. Their many accomplishments have led to technological advances, new forms of entertainment, as well as keeping us safe and sound in our often hectic world. You may recognize many of the items about to be mentioned and yet be surprised to learn who made them all possible.

Let us begin with Lisa Gelobter, a woman many may not know by name, but one who has changed the face of the internet and streaming services we use today. Have you ever sent or received an animated GIF to a friend? You have Lisa to thank for those! You see, Lisa was a big part of the creation of Shockwave, the technology that formed early web animation. Lisa then went on to work with the emerging role of online video, becoming one of the senior managers of the online streaming service Hulu.

Lisa also was the Interim Head of Digital for BET Networks, but now she works with the White House, in the United States Digital Service. She also currently serves as the Chief Digital Service Officer with the US Department of Education.

Next up is Dr. Shirley Jackson, a theoretical physicist who was the first African-American woman to earn her Ph.D. in nuclear physics from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 1973. Shirley’s experiments have lead to extraordinary advances in our telecommunications, such as the touch-tone phone, the portable fax, caller ID, call waiting, and the fiber-optic cable. Today, Dr. Shirley Jackson is the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

If you grew up during the 1990’s you might recall the slogan, “Wetter is Better!” This famous line came from one of the coolest water gun toys that exists even today! Invented by a NASA aerospace engineer named Lonnie G. Johnson, the Super Soaker was an instant hit, selling millions upon its debut.

But the toy wasn’t Lonnie’s only claim to fame. He has worked with the U.S. Air Force on the Galileo Jupiter probe as well as the Mars Observer project, and he holds more than 100 patents. Currently, Lonnie is working on the Johnson Thermoelectric Energy Converter (JTEC) which converts heat directly into clean electricity.

Have you ever used Skype (or similar online software) to make a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) call? If so, you have Marian R. Croak to thank for this vastly used technology. But that’s not all! Remember when American Idol introduced voting via text message? Or perhaps more recently being able to donate to a cause using texting as well? Marian invented these and much more – she holds over 200 patents, over 100 of which are related to VoIP!

Currently, Marian is the Vice President of Engineering at Google and has assumed responsibility for reliability engineering for many Google services. She was inducted into the Women in Technology Hall of Fame in 2013 and serves on the board of directors of the Centre for Holocausts, Human Rights & Genocide Education.

Back in the 1970s as video gaming was in its infancy, the “Father of Modern Gaming” was hard at work inventing a way for games to be swappable via a game cartridge. Unfortunately, the Fairchild Channel F console didn’t catch on, but Gerald A. “Jerry” Lawson’s ROM cartridge invention was made popular by the later launched console: the Atari 2600.

Jerry also invented and designed an 8-way joystick that had a pause button, the world’s first controller to do so. Also while working for Fairchild Jerry was a part of the Homebrew Computer Club whose members included Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. In 2011 Jerry was honored as an industry pioneer for his work on the game cartridge concept by the IGDA (International Game Developers Association). He passed away a month later due to complications from diabetes.

In 1874, Lewis H. Latimer co-patented (along with Charles M. Brown) an improved toilet system for railroad cars called the Water Closet for Railroad Cars. Two years later he was employed by Alexander Graham Bell to draft the necessary drawings required to receive a patent for Bell’s telephone. Three years after that, Lewis moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut to work for Hiram Maxim, a rival of Thomas A. Edison.

While there Lewis invented a modification to the process for making carbon filaments which aimed to reduce breakages during the carbonization process. This caught the eye of Edison and in 1884 Lewis was invited to work with him. During his time with Edison, he patented his “Early Air Conditioning Unit Apparatus for cooling and disinfecting” in 1886.

On February 11, 1918, Latimer joined the Edison Pioneers. Lewis Latimer was the first person of color to join this group of 100. Latimer passed away on December 11, 1928, at the age of 80. So next time you turn on a light or switch on the A/C, remember the man who helped bring these ideas to fruition.

Without the hard work and dedication of African-American inventor Otis F. Boykin on improved electrical resistors, we wouldn’t have today’s powerful televisions, computers, or radios. But more importantly, his work enabled control functions for the first successful, implantable pacemaker.

The advancements made in Boykin’s resistor meant that many electronic devices could be made more cheaply and with greater reliability than provided by earlier options. His resistor was quickly incorporated into a number of products, including guided missiles and IBM computers. More importantly, a version of his resistor made possible the precise regulation necessary for the success of the pacemaker, a contribution that has saved countless lives since.

Otis is also known to have created a range of consumer innovations including a burglar-proof cash register and a chemical air filter. He died of heart failure in Chicago in 1982.

Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood, and if it wasn’t for the pioneering work of physician, surgeon, and medical researcher Charles R. Drew, we wouldn’t have the blood banks and blood plasma programs we needed during World War II.

Due to his research with the team at the Red Cross in the field of blood transfusions, Charles developed improved techniques for blood storage as well as the creation of large-scale blood banks during the war. His actions helped save thousands of Allied forces’ lives. He also invented the “bloodmobile,” a refrigerated truck that can safely transport stored blood to the location where it is needed most.

As the most prominent African-American in the field, Drew protested against the practice of racial segregation in the donation of blood, as it lacked scientific foundation, and resigned his position with the American Red Cross, which maintained the policy until 1950.

An African-American inventor, businessman, and community leader, Garrett A. Morgan, Sr. blazed a trail for African American inventors with his patents. Garrett started his career as a sewing-machine mechanic and, while working with the machines in his newly-opened tailoring shop, noticed that the fast-moving sewing needles were scorching the woolen fabric. So Garrett experimented with a chemical solution and, quite by accident, noticed it straightened the fibers as well as lubricated the needles.

Garrett then tested the solution on a neighbor’s dog, and later on himself, to great success. Due to this finding, he created the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company and sold the cream to follow African-Americans, and this brought him financial security and business success.

In 1914 Garrett patented a breathing device he called the “safety hood” which provided the wearer a safer breathing experience in the presence of smoke, gases, and other pollutants. His breathing device became the prototype and precursor for the gas masks used during World War I, protecting soldiers from toxic gas used in warfare.

We finish our journey of magnificent inventors with the first African-American woman to become a self-made millionaire. Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, developed a scalp disorder that caused her to lose much of her hair, and she began to experiment with both home remedies and store-bought hair care treatments in an attempt to improve her condition. The pomade formula she invented proved very popular, and with the help of her husband, she promoted her products by traveling around the country giving lecture-demonstrations of her “Walker Method” — involving her own formula for pomade, brushing, and the use of heated combs.

As profits continued to grow, in 1908 Walker opened a factory and a beauty school in Pittsburgh. By 1910, when Walker transferred her business operations to Indianapolis, the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company had become wildly successful, with profits that were the modern-day equivalent of several million dollars.

In Indianapolis, the company not only manufactured cosmetics but also trained sales beauticians. These “Walker Agents” became well known throughout the Black communities of the United States. In turn, they promoted Walker’s philosophy of “cleanliness and loveliness” as a means of advancing the status of African Americans.

In 1981, the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company ceased operations. A line of cosmetics and hair-care products bearing the name Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture is available at Sephora retailers. Walker’s life was portrayed in the 2020 TV show Self Made, with Octavia Spencer portraying Walker.

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Honoring The Many African-Americans Who Make Our Nation Truly Great

There is much today that is taken for granted or considered commonplace when, only a short time ago since the formation of our nation, our African-American brothers and sisters rose up and dared to change our world. Some have invented and contributed to things we use even today, and others influenced the course of our history in ways many don’t even recognize. Today as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day may this article help to shed some light on their contributions to our great nation.

Starting with the very man whose name and accomplishments were recognized and made into a national holiday by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, you may know of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his famous, “I Have A Dream” speech, but King did much more than that.

King was a bright young man who skipped both the ninth and eleventh grades during his time at Booker T. Washington High, and he entered Morehouse College at the young age of 15. He earned a sociology degree while there and by age 25 earned his Ph.D. at the seminary and became the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church of Montgomery, Alabama.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus after a rather exhausting day at work. At the time there was a law called the Montgomery City Code that stated if a bus filled with white passengers in the “Whites Only” section, then any African-American in the “Colored” section must move to give them their seat. Rosa refused twice to move and was arrested and found guilty a week later at trial.

This moment led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott which King was elected to lead and where he famously stated, “We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”

King’s skillful rhetoric and belief in the conducting of non-violent protests led to and promoted civil rights reform. In the spring of 1963 King was jailed for the demonstration in downtown Birmingham. While sitting in that jail he wrote, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community, which has constantly refused to negotiate, is forced to confront the issue.”

On August 28, 1963, a massive demonstration of 200,000 in our nation’s capital occurred and this is where King gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech which emphasized his belief that one day all men could be treated equally and live as brothers. This led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which authorized the federal government to enforce desegregation of public accommodations and outlawing discrimination in publicly owned facilities. This also led to King receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

On March 21, 1965, what started as 2,000 people non-violently marching in a protest from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery, ended with 25,000 people who on March 25th gathered to listen to King’s televised speech. Five months after this historic protest, President Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

By 1968 the years of demonstrations and confrontations were beginning to wear on King. He had grown tired of marches, going to jail, and living under the constant threat of death. He was becoming discouraged at the slow progress of civil rights in America and the increasing criticism from other African American leaders.

On April 3, he gave his final and what proved to be an eerily prophetic speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” in which he told supporters at the Mason Temple in Memphis, “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

The next day, while standing on a balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by a sniper’s bullet. The shooter, a malcontent drifter and former convict named James Earl Ray, was eventually apprehended after a two-month, international manhunt.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s life had a seismic impact on race relations in the United States. Years after his death, he is the most widely known African American leader of his era. His life and work have been honored with a national holiday, schools and public buildings named after him, and a memorial on Independence Mall in Washington, D.C.

Coming up next in this series: The ingenious African-American men and women who invented items that have helped make America great!