Happy MLK Birthday

Personal story. When I was a senior in HS (Yorktown, Arlingon Co.) I got a one-week job as an electrician’s helper (I carried stuff) to work setting up for the 1968 Cherry Blossom festival. Day one we set around the Washington Monument and theater. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr got murdered. Day two when I went to the guy’s shop in the Clarendon neighborhood we could see smoke coming up from DC. We went in to get this guy’s equipment. His van was the only vehicle going into the city.

He had a CB and would call out, “They’re 4 blocks away.” As the rioting got closer and closer. I saw the first convoy of soldiers in trucks come down Independence Ave and stop in the middle. A DC cop and an Army officer looked at a map on the hood of a jeep and then literally circled The White House with troops. School buses loaded with police hurried by.

The rioters got to 2 blocks away. When we left, we could see them on 14th St. running back and forth. I missed my Pulitzer prize photo of smoke billowing across the Mall and making a wreath around the Capitol. We got stuck behind the traffic jam getting out of the city and didn’t get home until after 7. I couldn’t understand, then, why my parents were so upset. They had had no idea where I was.

About 6 weeks later we had a community meeting in the Yorktown HS gym on a Saturday morning. Leaders from DC and VA talked. Why was there a riot? What should be done? etc. Marion Barry spoke.

Marion Barry was articulate and passionate. He was one of the most charismatic men I have ever seen. I saw only a few leaders in the Army who had the real deal, charisma. Many wished and faked. None surpassed Marion Barry.

It is a personal tragedy that Marion Barry lost so much to drugs and alcohol. He had such incredible potential.

It is a National triumph what has happened since 1968. Of course, it started long before that. Even before the War of Northern Aggression. Fulfilling the potential of the Declaration of Independence to acknowledge all men are created equal is awesome.

Moreover, the morally superior and ascendant idea of racial integration is a triumph of right over wrong, good over evil. The concept of racial equality is a profoundly Judeo-Christian concept that bore fruit in the fullness of time – and after huge sacrifices and hard work – and national sin and shame.

It’s great to celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday as a symbol of America’s Civil Rights victory.

It’s sad to see how low Marion Barry went personnally and most of the Civil Rights leadership went politically since 1972. Multiculturalism, affirmative action (quotas not outreach), set asides etc. are the new racism. Hopefully, and hope is not a method, more and more Americans will reject the bitter politics of race baiting and follow the intellectual leaders – Thomas Sowell, Alan Keyes, Walter Williams, etc and political leaders like J.C. Watts, Condoleeza Rice, etc. to make The Dream come true – completely.

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5 responses to “Happy MLK Birthday”

  1. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Ah, yes, the day Martin Luther King was murdered. I remember it well. For African-Americans, it was a tragedy that, at 17 years old, I could barely fathom. The main thing I remember was the city of Washington, D.C., erupting in flames. I lived near the Washington Cathedral, which sits atop Mount St. Albans, the highest point in the district. I remember sitting on the crest of the “mountain” at Beauvoir Elementary School, looking down upon the city and watching a dozen plumes of smoke rise into the sky. The city was burning. I remember the curfews, even in my all-white neighborhood, and I remember the panic of my neighbors. Many feared for not just their homes but their lives, and many made good on their vow to move to the suburbs.

    Between the race riots and the Vietnam War, that was an intense and chaotic time. We have come a long way. Our culture wars today pale in comparison.

  2. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    I didn’t know you were a DeeCee kid, Jim Bacon.

    The split in time, the cusp between cultural worldviews, was the 60s.

    We are in a different phase of the struggle in a long KulturKampf. Better to have less violence now. Hope it stays that way.

  3. samrocha Avatar

    HI! Great Blog! I linked over here on a Blog search, today I posted an article on a perspective on MLK Jr. Day, check it out if you’d like… I’ve enjoyed reading through your archives, I’d love to establish a reciprocal link with your blog, let me know if you’re interested:


  4. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    When today’s “culture wars” are lead by such luminaries as Bill O’Reilly on the Right and John Stewart on the Left, I’d say that we’ve come a long way in terms of racial justice but we’ve gone down in other areas.

  5. Ray Hyde Avatar

    MLK day is a good time to remember the best thing that public transportation ever brought us:

    Rosa Parks.

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