Monday, January 15th, our country will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this year the actual date of his birthday. It takes me back to the day of his "Dream" speech, when Jim Crow was fighting to keep blacks separate and unequal.
On Christmas Eve, Dad pulled out the sleigh bells from the closet. “When Santa finishes putting out all the gifts, he’ll shake these sleigh bells as a signal that he’s done. Then, we have to give him a few minutes to leave. It we see Santa, we destroy the magic, and he won’t come back.”
Pearl Harbor was bombed seventy-six years ago today. My mom, Lillian Koroschetz, started a brand new diary on New Year's Eve, 1941 reflecting back on the previous year and the effects the barely three-week-old war was already having on the every-day lives of Americans.
Two Chicago shootings within 16 hours of each other: a man was shot dead in East Garfield Park this past Friday afternoon. Saturday morning, another man was seriously injured: shot in the knee and stomach. The 2nd man isn't dead, but his injuries will surely compromise his quality of life as long as he lives.
Like so many Americans on Thanksgiving Day, I am grateful for a loving family and the ability to take for granted the basics of food, clothing and shelter; for having a warm bed to sleep in; for living without fear. But on this day of “giving thanks” I’m also grateful for possessing something tangible that few people in the world have now or have ever had or ever will have, especially not this generation.
Halloween costumes, when I was a kid in the 1950s, were not store-bought, at least not in my in my family. Halloween was an opportunity to be creative; to bring an idea to life. My dad loved to scope out whatever interesting or unusual items he could find at Goodwill, Salvation Army, and thrift stores.
I wanted to find a way to connect this week’s blog post with last weekend’s display of hateful bigotry: white supremacists violently protesting the removal of Confederate General Lee’s statue in Charlottesville, Virginia. Demanding that Confederate symbols remain is another way of saying “We approve of the Confederate stance that blacks should be enslaved; that they are subhuman.” Even if only the most racist of Americans would actually mouth those words today (like the white supremacists in Charlottesville), back in the 1950s and 1960s, whites spoke openly against blacks entering their communities–and thought they had good reason.
Two of the nation’s deadliest riots exploded 50 years ago–in July 1967, within two weeks of each other. July 11th 1967, The Newark Riots blew up on an early Sunday morning, after a cab driver was brutally beaten by Newark police. After four days of rioting, looting, and destruction, 26 were dead and hundreds injured. On July 23rd, 1967, Detroit erupted in a riot triggered by a police raid of an unlicensed after-hours bar, where 82 African Americans were celebrating the return of two local GIs from the Vietnam War.