When an assassin felled Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4th 1968, it was not just the murder of the greatest leader of the Civil Rights Movement, it was the murder of hope for so many of our country's African American citizens.
On January 15th, a few days ago, the New York Times ran an article entitled "50 Years Later, It feels Familiar: How America Fractured in 1968." I was struck by how I've used the same word, fractured, in the title of my book: Redlined: A Memoir of Race, Change, and Fractured Community in 1960s Chicago. I'm going to share just a portion of that year as covered in my book.
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.
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.
"Thirty-seven-year-old Medgar Evers, Mississippi’s NAACP field secretary, was shot in the back with a high-powered rifle as he walked from his car to his home on June 12, 1963. He died an hour later. Again, mass black protests, followed by mass arrests were broadcast on TV around the world. I later learned that neighbors had heard Evers’s children screaming, “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I thought of my daddy. What would I do without my daddy?