Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The LuLac Edition #2504, August 28th, 2013


Our 1963 logo.
The late Martin Luther King, Junior.  (Photo: UPI)

A. Phillip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, two of the organizers of the march on Washington who made the cover of Life after the event. (Photo: Life Magazine). 
Throngs at The March on Washington. (Photo: USA Today) 

March on Washington logo. (Photo: NPR org). 


It was the end of the summer for me. I hated August. The only good thing about it was my mom’s birthday but after that it was on to shopping for school shirts in the Huskey section of Sime Brogans in Pittston. For whatever reason, my crowd in the Junction pretty much gave up the ghost of summer in that last week before Labor Day and the return to school.
In the spring of ’63 I was hit with the trifecta of measles, mumps and chicken pox. I was relegated to my room with a radio which was my constant companion along with my school books. So I had an awareness of the great Civil Rights year of 1963. I had heard Martin Luther King on the radio and when I was out of my sickness mode, I always caught the news of this great struggle.
There were no black people I knew in my small area but there were plenty of opinions. I never shook hands with a black man until I was 18 and living in Washington, D.C. Some adults said that it was wrong to have people of color excluded from every day mundane life activities as drinking from a fountain or using a bathroom. Others said that they had the same things we did, but they were not with us. They were separate and that was good enough. Still others asked, “What in the world do they want?”
I tell you I was confused. Only 9 my only interaction with a person of color was a pen pal I got from one of those old Archie comic books. Nick, from El Paso and I wrote each other. We exchanged photos and as I showed his picture to a neighbor it was quickly pointed out to me that he was different. I was 9. He liked baseball, football, had no clue about Math and loved Coke. 
We’re weren’t that different I thought. But during that summer of ’63 I saw people of color being beaten on the news. One guy was getting the snot kicked out him and at his side was a black hat with a feather on the side. It was the exact same hat my father wore to church every Sunday. These people were different in the manner they were being treated in this country and what was happening to them was unfair, unjust. But I had no idea what to do because I was 9. So I relied on the news. I came to the conclusion that it was wrong for my friend Nick, (a Hispanic) to be thought of differently. To be treated differently. Curiously, there were no words of wisdom from my church. 
So between the TV promos for the new Fall TV shows like “The Fugitive”, The Judy Garland Show”, “The Farmer’s Daughter” as well as the short lived Bill Dana program were news reports about the big march on Washington. It was clear that this was big because on this day fifty years ago, all three networks carried this event. It led the TV news as well as the radio and papers. On the news that night I heard Martin Luther King Junior speak. His words were easy enough for me to understand and dramatic enough to make me excited.
The things King spoke of, dignity, the future, fairness, non violence were things I learned in the Catechism. Who wouldn’t want that? I found out later that for some segments of America, they didn’t want what King was selling.
After the speech, King became a constant with me. I followed him like I did ballplayers and politicians. To this nine year old from Pittston, he became top of the mind awareness.
By the time I was 12, King had won the Nobel Prize and been stabbed and nearly killed. When I was 13 he came out against the war in Vietnam. When I was 14 he was dead.
The triumph of Martin Luther King is the same as his sad legacy after death. In life he was the focal point of the movement of Civil Rights. In death he remained so but that was problematic because his successors were poor imitations of him.
As the years passed after the march, King met his objectives with the help of a determined Southern President (Lyndon Johnson) who, like my pen pal Nick, knew the pain and discrimination of those hills of Texas. But even after the legalities of acceptance, in America there is still an undercurrent of racism. It is not helped by the fact that the American family unit has made it acceptable for illegitimacy and unaccountability. Cuts in social programs have cut into the effectiveness of any American to get ahead. The irresponsibility of individuals of all colors on those programs has led to an entitlement society King did not advocate.
The dream of Martin Luther King was to have equality across the board. The dream was not a scheme to game the system.
The dream of Martin Luther King was to not only have little back boys and girls play together but prosper together economically.
The dream of Martin Luther King is still alive but on life support. 
The grandsons and granddaughters of those who opposed him with rubber hoses now use State legislators to deny voting rights by making it harder for people to vote. A Supreme Court Justice, in striking down the Voting Rights Act characterized it as a “racial entitlement”.
Some of the grandsons and daughters of those 200,000 who stood on the Mall with King do not honor that sacrifice by using their color as an excuse for what they say is discrimination in a world where there is a chance for everyone if they work hard enough. Or failing that in LuLac land, to kiss enough asses.
Fifty years after the March, there is good and bad. 
In 1963 just 365,000 blacks had college degrees. In 2013 that number now stands at more than five million. 
Conversely, in 1963 24 % of babies were born to unwed black mothers. In 2013 that number is at 72%.
Fifty years after the speech, King’s words still ring true. Still have a meaning and a purpose. But now more than ever, opportunity, tolerance, accountability, and responsibility must be practiced by all Americans of every color. If those stars stay out of alignment, the March on Washington as well as Dr. King’s speech will be known as a great event of what could have been instead of what we could be. There’s still time but it is running short. But I’d like to think that even with our problems, misunderstanding, cultural divides and distrust, we still shall overcome.

And the number one song in America and LuLac land on this monumental day in 1963 was fittingly enough Trini Lopez’ “If I Had A Hammer”.


At 11:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to wonder what MLK Jr, would be more upset about today.
White racists, or the thug culture glorified and encouraged by African Americans.

At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once more you show why you are the class of the blogasphere.
And the best at what you do.
Wonderful commemoration of this day.

At 8:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great thoughts Dave for a really wonderful anniversary. Changed America.
And you nod to LBJ was great. He got that legislation passed. Not JFK.

At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dream is on life support.
Well put Yonk.


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