Monday, January 17, 2022

King’s time in Chicago echoes today


Martin Luther King, struck by a rock in 
Marquette Park (Sun-Times file photo)
     Martin Luther King Jr. lived in Chicago, briefly. At 1550 S. Hamlin Avenue. He moved in Jan. 26, 1966, with his four children and wife Coretta, who found the stench of urine in their new apartment “overpowering.” But King felt he had to come to Lawndale to spread his message of non-violent resistance to America’s entrenched racism.
     “There are more Negroes in Chicago than in the whole state of Mississippi,” King said.
On Martin Luther King Day 2022, it is doubly important to reflect on the history of race in this country, because that history is imperiled in a way both real and chilling to any truly patriotic American.
     The Republican Party is at war with the past, part of its general campaign against any reality that reflects the party as it truly is: a totalitarian cult that has turned its back on democracy and freedom. That feels obligated to smudge any shiny surface: science is wrong, the press is fake.
     And history.
     The GOP premise is that any true telling of America’s racial past is some kind of plot to make their children feel bad, perhaps by cluing them in to what haters their parents really are. Talk about snowflakes ...
     They don’t realize that any true telling of history is a challenge to anyone’s inflated sense of self worth. For instance, before we take too much pride in Martin Luther King, Chicago resident, we should understand how hard a challenge the city posed for King. The city’s Black population was far less promising material than King was used to molding.
     “The Negroes of Chicago have a greater sense of powerlessness than I ever saw,” said Hosea WIlliams, King’s chief lieutenant. “They don’t participate in the government process because they are beaten down, psychologically. We are used to working with people who want to be free.”

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5 comments:

  1. As abominable as our history of how we treat Black Americans, it doesn’t stop there. We aren’t exactly hospitable to Native Americans and peoples from other countries who provide cheap labor.
    The tragedy of the assassination of MLK is that we as Americans lost a supremely powerful voice… a supremely powerful leader. He has proven to be irreplaceable.
    What would he be saying and doing today?

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  2. I do not think he would be saying "Blacks for Trump."

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  3. As with much of their behavior and rhetoric, the hypocrisy displayed by many Republicans via their attitude toward history is irksome.

    They like history fine when it comes to reminding folks that they're the "party of Lincoln," for example. And, they're more than happy to look back into history in order to point out that Strom Thurmond was a Democrat (leaving out the part where he chose to become a Republican in response to the Civil Rights Act, of course.) They love talking about the founding fathers and "original intent" ... right up until one mentions that many of the founding fathers enslaved people and that the manifestation of the original intent included Black people being counted as 3/5ths of a person and women not being allowed to vote.

    It's hard to shake the feeling that MLK would be pretty disappointed by where things stand a half-century after his struggles. Particularly the way so many Republicans are not only trying to straighten out the bend of the arc of the moral universe, but trying to bend it back the other way.

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    1. It's even lower than hypocrisy, a kind of idiot brain fart. Every single Republican who could squeeze out an opinion observed that Daley was a Democrat. Which means ... what? I take it as representing the 0-or-1, us/them political hobby horse they ride. It's their substitute for thinking. Were I to say, "Your house is on fire," they'd reply, "Oh yeah, all of CHICAGO burned!" Which really does not address the matter at hand.

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    2. Indeed. It's not like progressive Democrats had no problems with Daley, for crying out loud.

      King stating that "I had never seen, even in Mississippi, mobs as hostile and hate-filled as in Chicago" has always been excruciating. The fact that many of the folks screaming and throwing things at King in Marquette Park may have been Democrats is disturbing. Neither party has maintained a monopoly on virtue. But that was 2 generations ago. When the type of person who threw the rock looks at the state of affairs today, however, it's not too hard for them to figure out which former president and which party's elected officials share their attitude toward racial equality.

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