I can’t say that it was like it happened yesterday, but I do remember the day, April 4, 1968, when the announcement was given to the student body at Lindblom Technical High School, on Chicago’s Southwest side, that Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed.
Lindblom was itself in racial transition while I was there from 1965 to 1969. On that fateful day I was among a group of stunned students that wandered aimlessly east on 63rd Street to Ashland Ave. Frustrated and angry, but feeling no impulse to victimize others who were not responsible for what made us angry, we eventually found routes to our respective homes.
As shown in the photo below, taken elsewhere on 63rd Street, some people did express their displeasure more forcibly. I’ll ask anyone who still lives in the area, is it any better?
Dr. King’s elimination silenced a voice, a conscience, and visionary among human rights activists that, to this day, has not reappeared. His assassination was a shock and emotional trauma of the first order to all. He represented more than just change; the ideas that he advocated would benefit every member of society, joining a long list of others who have met similar fates.
Dr. King’s murder wasn’t the first, nor the last. It wasn’t even the only major killing in 1968. Just 62 days later, on June 5, a gunman took Robert F. Kennedy’s life in Los Angeles where, in 1979, I would migrate from Chicago and call home for almost 22 years.
These deaths completed an infamous “trifecta” of sorts, for those like me who couldn’t fathom such things. Making Dr. King’s murder “racial” made it more plausible and limited the scope, as though it didn’t affect those who were not “black”. The same psychodynamics are operative in murder of Stephon Clark, the unarmed man who was tracked down by officers in a helicopter with night vision goggles, and killed by two ground officers of the Sacramento PD on March 18 because of a “vandalism complaint.”
Since when has breaking windows become grounds for murder?
Sending Al Sharpton, a relic from the post-Martin Luther King era, to Sacramento to attend Clark’s funeral and give the eulogy fanned the racial fire while masking the greater social injustice that was done to all people of Sacramento.
The larger population that didn’t appear to be targeted, would then satisfy itself to silently watch the protesters, who also isolate themselves by proclaiming their lives matter.
This human rights tragedy, perpetrated in “America” by trusted public servants, was downgraded a lower level complaint by a “minority group”. This isn’t “racism”. It’s how large populations are “managed” through organized divisiveness operations.
The “target” was the people of the entire city of Sacramento who did not band together and make it clear, in no uncertain terms, that that was the last time an event like this would happen TO ANYONE in their community.
This would involve accountability, not protest, involving everyone connected, from the officers (no protection), to the chain of command in the force, to the city council and mayor. If anyone tried to rationalize this action as being anywhere near reasonable and expected, and showed no remorse, as though their own son had been murdered, it would be grounds for disqualification.
In lieu of such a process, no one looks at, or takes official umbrage with, or exception to the police behavior.
And while everyone is denying all this, human minds are being twisted, systematically dehumanized.
Isolationism affects everyone… adversely.
Since the Clark shooting, a larger police presence has had to be deployed at the new arena for the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise when protesters blocked entrances.
Tensions could have been diffused quickly if members of law enforcement acted like human beings, and acknowledged the damage that they did to the quality of life in their own city.
They are so trained to look for evil in dark places with minimal information, and then make snap judgments that they expect the public to simply accept lame excuses that they would never accept from a criminal, or even an innocent person that they believed was guilty.
Please tell me where did “innocent until proven guilty” go?
A Sacramento Kings basketball game pales in importance when compared to the relations between a law enforcement agency and the citizens that it purports to serve.
Today, rationalization, stonewalling and vagueness are more often the likely response of such agencies, the officers convinced so much that “bad guys” may lurk around every corner, that no amount of “fire power” is enough to make them feel confident and safe, and not apply deadly force where no such need is indicated.
Why hasn’t curtailing access and use of guns by police officers that abuse the trust that the public places in them, been mentioned in all the “gun control” debates?
While all I’m suggesting is common sense, simple human relations, this sentiment is consistently missing from the “PI” (public information) representatives who try to rationalize, minimize, or justify unconscionable acts by their officers when these events occur.
A History of Domestic and International Tyranny
However, they are part of a pattern of similar actions that have been ongoing in America, and around the world, for far longer than anyone writing or reading this remembrance has been here.
For me, the first one was the murder of Robert’s brother and 35th President of the U.S., John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
All of these events were shocking, but also, a little less so. They said something about America that very few Americans, whose beliefs have been carefully and intentionally managed, were prepared or perhaps willing to see.
This was, and is tyranny, and the string of events continues.
Lyndon B. Johnson ascended to the presidency with JFK’s death. According to pictures that have been circulated, another Texan, George H.W. Bush, was in Dallas that day in 1963, though he feigns to not recall his whereabouts.
Mr. Johnson may be credited with signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but he was also at the helm when the USS Liberty was hit with missiles, torpedoes and napalm on June 8, 1967 during the Six-Day War by a squadron of Israeli warplanes and torpedo boats.
This intentional assault left 34 dead and 174 wounded out of the 294 men on board. The Israeli aircraft had no markings. Put it another way, the military personnel were ordered to remove all affiliation markings.
President Johnson recalled a U.S. rescue response mid-flight to the May Day call. Another flight, to Egypt, was also recalled. In this article, Miriam Pensack, writing for The Intercept, asserts that even after 50 years, the details of Israel’s USS Liberty attack are being kept secret by the NSA, whose crew was under its command.
There are some who may think that by bringing up other tragedies dampen the regard that might be given to acknowledging Dr. King’s contribution to society. To me, that would be missing the larger picture; the one that Dr. King, JFK and RFK, plus many more people and incidents that we could add, actually sacrificed their lives for.
As a result of their sacrifice, and others unmentioned, America and Americans went to wars that spiraled the country, and the ones victimized by U.S. aggression, toward more polarity, disease, secrecy, apathy, and debt.
Out of the Box
Dr. King’s message of empowerment was for the human family, not specifically for “black people”.
Dr. King spoke with an eloquence, grace, and intelligence that made his ideas hard to dismiss. His message endures because he spoke to the heart, from the heart. His truth was universal and transcendental.
Its absence is dearly missed today.
Peace was a goal, an idea that is missing from today’s coarse, combative rhetoric. “Leaders” boldly talk about war, and marginally hint at an interest in peace… if ever.
So much has transpired since Dr. King’s passing, now 50 years down the road. Leaders are more often misleaders than not.
The “lesser of evils” approach to social sciences and media means that few if any visions of a future world that don’t involved greater arms, higher walls, or clear consciences, are being presented, discussed, or planned on any significant level.
Too many travesties of justice ~ in America ~ have become normal, while high-profile people who have committed a multitude of crimes against humanity are hardly inconvenienced, if not shielded altogether.
This is what Dr. King took such fervent exception to. He will be remembered, not because someone killed him. His vision will be remembered because it mattered… and yet lives on.