“You don’t hear much about Martin Luther King in Chicago Nowadays.”

“Forty years ago this winter, I was an 8-year-old boy growing up on the North Side of Chicago. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had moved into a slum in the impoverished West Side neighborhood of North Lawndale to dramatize the conditions of what were then known as ‘Northern Negroes.’

King was scheduled to visit the home of a local politician to raise money for his cash-strapped movement from white “lakefront liberals.” But the politician, caught between his personal sympathies for King and his allegiance to Mayor Richard J. Daley, who was no fan of the civil-rights leader, felt uncomfortable hosting the party. So he called up my parents and, to my delight, the event was moved to our house at the last minute. “

Jonathan Alter updates King’s Chicago legacy in this week’s Newsweek. He says “few Chicagoans think about the time he spent in their midst.” Read the thoughtful rest of his story here.

3 Comments so far

  1. nikkos (unregistered) on January 11th, 2006 @ 1:22 pm

    Thanks for the link to this excellent article Jennifer.

    Although the part where Alter says of the Lawndale residents “Many residents are still unable to ‘grow from within,’ in King’s words, by resisting self-destructive behavior and the ‘gangsta’ culture” is pure bullshit.

  2. JenniferRoche (unregistered) on January 11th, 2006 @ 8:30 pm

    I know little of the truth about what it’s like in Lawndale these days, so I can’t argue either way on the point you’ve identified. I don’t doubt some of his interpretations of what’s happening here are inaccurate as it sounds like he jetted in and jetted out to research the story, but I did appreciate his long perspective and insights nonetheless. Keep on keepin’ on, Nikkos!

  3. nikkos (unregistered) on January 12th, 2006 @ 8:59 am

    It just seemed odd to me that at the very end of a long, insightful and somewhat personal article Alter would revert to the Bill Cosby-ism that inner city black people are solely responsible for their plight. But overall, a good read and a good reminder that things were very different in America, not too long ago. Thanks again for finding and posting this!

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