In 1968 about 3000 people lived in tents on the Mall in an antipoverty demonstration in Washington D.C.
The rally was inspired by Martin Luther King.
King was a Baptist minister who became one of the most important voices in Civil Rights history.. American history. World history. Today, January 15, 2018, is Martin Luther King Day.
His history is not simple to comprehend.. or explain. We know the secret FBI documents that tried to tie him to prostitutes and illegitimate children.. we know members of his family who don’t think that he died at the hands of a simple lone assassin–a decade when ‘lone assassins’ have quite the field day with people who were challenging the status-quo..
I read with great interest some other information about King. In his final year of life he was hated by the liberal establishment. From the INTERCEPT:
For years, King had been troubled by the war in Vietnam and raised it privately in conversations with the Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. As the conflict dragged on, King felt he had no choice but to publicly denounce the war. In an April 1967 speech at Riverside Church in New York City, the civil rights leader publicly denounced American involvement in Indochina.
The backlash from a liberal establishment that had once praised King for his civil rights campaign came as hard and fast as his allies had feared.
The New York Times editorial board lambasted King for linking the war in Vietnam to the struggles of civil rights and poverty alleviation in the United States, saying it was “too facile a connection” and that he was doing a “disservice” to both causes. It concluded that there “are no simple answers to the war in Vietnam or to racial injustice in this country.” The Washington Post editorial board said King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country and his people.” A political cartoon in the Kansas City Star depicted the civil rights movement as a young black girl crying and begging for her drunk father King, who is consuming the contents of a bottle labeled “Anti-Vietnam.”
168 newspapers in all denounced him the day after the important speech.
A true history lesson challenges the beliefs you hold true.. “his” story is written by victors or interventionists who want to quell the real story in favor of the simple one. Kids’ school texts sum up important events in one single chapter. Or even single paragraphs..
It’s more complicated than that.
And that is why history should be taught from an early age. No, not the whole story.. you can learn that as you grow and mature. But the big picture. The overall lesson. Kids are good with big themes–sure, maybe you have to phrase it in good vs bad, but it works like that. The ‘rest of the story,’ as Paul Harvey would say, comes in later.
Big stories. History lessons beginning early.
That is why I am a bit upset this evening. My son was supposed to be off school today. Thanks to a few snowstorms thrown at the district by mother nature, decisions were made to cancel Martin Luther King as a recognized holiday so the school year can stay the same length. I get that, districts have to make important decisions.. Perhaps the flaw came when the assumption was made that my son would come home with some ‘big picture’ knowledge of Martin Luther King. He did not.. there was no lesson. No history.. no mention. I am very upset.
Upset because now, in this moment more than ever, we need to see heroes again. We need to relive the larger than life figures that changed the world from the old age to the modern… there is enough politics at dinner tables, believe me, but there should have been some history about this man in the classroom..
Thankfully we have Google and Youtube. My son got some images and a video to showcase the importance.
The innocence of youth coupled with the brain of a child led Ayden to conclude this: “People are different colors just like crayons, but crayons are still crayons so people are still people.”