44 Years After Martin Luther King Jr. has Been Gone........

April 4th is a day that always rings sad for me. Despite I was born eight years after his murder, the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. always hold heavy over me.

He came to Chicago several times during his life, working for equality, marching for civil rights and he even lived over in Lawndale for a time (there’s a new apartment complex named for him over there), but mostly he was frustrated with his efforts here.

Regardless, I feel I owe him for without the trails he blazed, the doors he opened, the laws he helped get passed, I would not be writing this blog today.

Sure there were other leaders, Malcom X, Medgar Evers and there were politicians who helped get legislation through including President Lyndon Johnson and there were judges/justices such as Thurgood Marshall who had a hand in the civil rights world as well.

But it was Dr. King who was the face of the message, who literally took to the streets and not only worked for civil rights but for fair treatment and overturning unjust laws. He died working for the trash men of Memphis trying to get them better working conditions.

And of course things haven’t been the same since he’s been gone, sure we have President Obama but like me, Obama has his debt to Dr. King too. All of us younger black men do.

I met Dr. King’s daughter Bernice about twenty years ago at St Sabina and was humbled by her presence.  To think her father did so much in 39 years on this planet. I’ll be that old in 3 years and feel I’ve accomplished a fraction of what he did.

I’m grateful for the opportunities that I had, because men of his generation (like my dad), went through hell to make it easier for us younger black men.

And even more so, men like my grandfathers and step grandfather, migrated from the south for a better life for themselves, their families and those of us yet to come.

Dr. King and his contemporaries sacrificed for the greater good, his life was cut short so our lives could be easier.

For that I will always be overwhelmingly grateful, yet do what I can to make it better for those coming behind me.


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  • I am old enough to witness MLK's visits to Chicago, and old enough to be scared to death when he was killed and the riots and killings broke out across the city.

    While I do not view MLK as a man of peace, based on his Alinsky tactics, by marching through white ethnic neighborhoods filled with people still shell-shocked after World War II, but I take him for his word that he wanted people to be judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

    For those of us who lived through the turmoil and who have tried to treat people as individuals, we have had our efforts degraded and insulted and marginalized, from the likes of Jesse Jackson to President Obama.

    Why, after all this time, do black people need "leaders"? Aren't you just pissed off and insulted that the pathetic, liberal white media always run to your "leaders"?

    Where are the Asian leaders? Where are the East Indian leaders? Where are the White Leaders? Where are even the Spanish leaders? Nowhere.

    I think it's time to fire your "leaders" and become individual leaders. Further, it is time to leave all of us who have judged people by the content of their character, alone. Not to mention, showing some respect for the effort. I hardly expect this, though.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Thanks for reading and commenting. But I have a reply, I disagree about President Obama but I can't stand Jesse Jackson Sr. or Al Sharpton. They are mediia hounds plain and simple, you don't see them here on the mean streets of Chicago where violence is so prevalent nor tending to the dire economic and job situation for African Americans or anyone else for that matter.

    As for wanting credit for judging on the content of character, you get it from me, I've told anyone who will listen that all I want is a level playing field. Nothing more, I'll find a way to succeed.

    And MLK did go into racially hostile areas, doesn't mean he not a man of peace, he didn't go to Marquette Park with a gun did he? True anyone of color knew back in the day what would happen with our presence but he was not the Black Panthers, not by a long shot.

    His message was peace and he backed it up without going into violent rhetoric or action.

  • MLK did not go into Marquette Park with a gun, but worse. He knew exactly the type of response that would come from the ignorant and the racist. To say that he did not, is to discredit him, I believe.

    Regarding President Obama, I believe him to be, if not racist, to be a truly "hurt" man. He speaks of his mother as a "typical white woman", and never seems to miss a chance to stir up the race pot, especially in this political season.

    I really believe President Obama to be feeling the abandonment of his mother and father, at various times in his life, and to want to correct that by creating a utopia here on earth. I think, too, he blames what he sees as the "white" institutions, inherited from Europeans, as a major cause of dissension in the US, and that somehow a collectivism akin to a village will solve these troubles, whether real or imagined.

    I'll stray where most won't on here, because they care about their reputations, but for the majority of white people who believe all are created equal and do judge people as individuals, we are tired of hearing how bad we are, how if we just knew that "hoodies" were harmless, all would be swell in the world.

    Sooner or later, when people hear how they are "supposed" to be, they start to fulfill and act the part. It does work both ways.

    Everybody wants an honest break, a level playing field, etc. But I will tell you, as any white person will, especially here in Crook County and Illinois, that the powers that be "don't want nobody nobody sent". It is color-blind when it comes to that.

    I'm not connected. Living here is living on one of the most un-level fields on earth. In this town it is not what color are you or how much you know, but rather who you know and how much $$$$$$$$$$$$ you can bring to the party. Period.

    Thank you. Rant over. ;---->

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    Charles W. Johnson

    I'm a lifelong writer (since I was 8 years old), and have been doing this blog in some form or fashion since 2004. I'm a DePaul University alum (LA&S '99), and know and love Chicago. Writing is my passion, what I write is what I feel, know and have experienced. I simply want to share my thoughts, experiences and opinions. And I appreciate you taking to the time to read what I have to say.

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