MLK

Jan. 22nd, 2002 09:00 am
dancerjodi: (Default)
One of my fondest memories as an undergrad was the annual discussion with the head of the Sociology Department about his experiences with Dr. Martin Luther King. He had the extreme good fortune of being a graduate student in Chicago during some of Dr. King's more controversial visits there. In addition to Professor London participating in a study with Dr. King in order to prove that there had been discrimination in a popular Chicago Real Estate Agency (showing black families property in only the poorer parts of the city - Professor London posed as the white teacher looking for a house while a colleague of his posed as the black teacher looking for a house) he spent many hours at lectures, protests, marches and the like.

Professor London was there for one of the marches that started off as a peaceful gathering of people of many colors, religions, ages etc (I can't remember the original purpose that they had gathered now but only the later events of that day). After being yelled at, poked at and eventually beaten on by those on 'the other side' - Professor London, Dr. King and many others ran through the streets to find solace on the other side of town that their oppressors would dare enter, the 'black side of the city'.

They ran into a church for refuge and the few that were trained in medicine started to care for those beaten and bloody from the protest (including a 85 year old white Catholic nun). Dr. King took the podium and in a very defeated voice (according to Professor London) told them all that in all of his years of life he had NEVER seen such hatred or violence in the South - it was here in the North, in Chicago.

As I sat down at home after working all day, going to the gym and making dinner to fold some laundry before watching the new "Daria - Is it College Yet?" movie on MTV, I flipped through some channels to see what could amuse me for the next 20 minutes. I found a show on Channel 5 about Dr. King and heard more of his speeches than I ever have before. There wasn't anything particularly special about the show - they talked with elementary school kids, Dr. King's widow and others that have worked in the Civil Rights Movement. I had never thought much of it before, I mean sure - the message is great and one that many of us want to follow - but that man had such knowledge, such TALENT in expressing his ideas that I don't think many have accomplished since. I stood transfixed on that TV each time they showed old footage of him talking. I was reminded of that cheezy song, "Where have all the Cowboys Gone?".

********

Where are our Dr. Martin Luther Kings today? Is our generation one of pathetic apathy where we've simply trained machines to do things FOR us?

Sometimes I really wish I had a time machine so that I could travel to other decades and see what we've missed - or what we could experience if only we hadn't forgotton about it.

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