MLK, the local angle.

I hate those weekends when you spend all your time indoors, but it was one of those weekends when it had to be done. The teaching chores had to be done, and hallelujah, I got ’em done. And I also did the laundry and the grocery shopping. The house is still a wreck, but we all have clean underwear and something to eat.

And while it may be a holiday for you, it’s not for me. I’m heading out in a bit for my usual manic Monday, taking a few minutes to drink some coffee and listen to a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. Did you know Grosse Pointe was the site of one of his last speeches before his assassination? It was, in March 1968, and after a few years of saying, “I should check out the online resources on that,” I’m finally doing so. The local historical society has a page devoted to the event, which packed the local high-school gym with 2,700 souls, who by and large treated him well and warmly, if you can ignore the many hecklers, clearly audible on the tape. They were from a group called Breakthrough. If you look at their materials, their main objection to King was that he was soft on communism: “He has taken up the banner of the Viet Cong by calling for an end to the War in Viet Nam on Communist terms.” One loudly denounced him as a “traitor” before walking out — “dramatically,” the newspaper found it necessary to note. At one point, King even turns over his microphone to a Navy vet for a brief rant about anti-war protestors. The script could have come from the blogosphere, c. 2003.

But the parts that really sting, 43 years later, are passages like this: “There is no more dangerous development in our nation than the constant building up of predominantly negro central cities ringed by white suburbs. This will do nothing but invite social disaster.”

Dr. King, you were right. But I don’t think, if we had it to do over again, that anyone would do anything different. Anyway, worth a listen for King scholars, armchair or otherwise, and a break from that other speech you hear so much at this time of year. (Brendan Walsh, one of our local school board members has a few thoughts on it, here.)


I’ll have a filet o’ fish: Canoeing through McDonald’s. In Australia, where else?

Just a reminder to those of you who have struggled with infertility: Children are not distributed by a benevolent and loving God to those who most deserve them. In fact, sometimes it seems the opposite is true.

There was some chatter about the new Miss America yesterday in comments over the weekend. Talk about an event that’s passed its prime; who even knew it was on? Fortunately we have Tom and Lorenzo to break things down, at least. Shocker of the event: The new Miss is only 17? I didn’t think that was possible under pageant rules, but then, I didn’t think having it in Vegas was possible under pageant rules, either. Anyway, she seems like a nice girl. I look forward to a year of not knowing her name.

So, then, time for me to shove off.

Posted at 9:19 am in Current events |

41 responses to “MLK, the local angle.”

  1. brian stouder said on January 17, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Thanks in advance for the MLK link; when I get home for lunch, the young folks (who have the day off) and I will listen, and they (and I) will know a little more about this holiday, which increasingly seems to be the emblem (to some people) of pointless days off for school children and postal workers.

    Edit – btw, speaking of yesterday’s comments, before watching the last 90 minutes of the Golden Globes* last night, we watched the 1969 version of True Grit and the young folks and I were constantly surprised and impressed with how closely the Coen brothers paralleled the original, and, more interestingly, the places where they diverged. I think all armchair movie critics (that is, everyone who loves movies!) should watch both, and then compare and contrast.

    *gotta love the dresses and gowns that the women wear, there. And, DeNiro’s bleeped speech! Good stuff

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  2. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 17, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Good weekend to spend outside and sleep on the ground, he cackled insanely. 7 degrees teaches you the operating limits of your camping gear like nothing else. But it does mean you get to see sights like this:

    (It should be accessible along with the album to those who have not been assimilated into the Faceborg cube . . . I don’t use Picasa any more since Facebook uploading is so simple.)

    Also this:

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  3. alex said on January 17, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Seventeen? I long for the old days when Miss Americas had been around the block a few times with tits paid for by somebody else and pix published by Bob Guccione.

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  4. ROgirl said on January 17, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Don’t forget, that MLK 1968 speech in GP was just 8 months after the Detroit riots. And Breakthrough was the operation of Donald Lobsinger, a notorious figure who used to harass people at peace marches and during anti-war and civil rights activities back then.

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  5. LAMary said on January 17, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I wish they’d go back to Atlantic City and baton twirlers. That is one tacky 17 year old. What is up with the dark roots? I know it’s some sort of fashion statement but if you’re going to wear that dress and that hairdo, lose the dark roots. I read she was home schooled and plans on attending Patrick Henry College.

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  6. jcburns said on January 17, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Just published is (my sister-in-law) Rebecca Burns’ new book on the King funeral (and the days just before and after):

    Burial for a King: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Funeral and the Week that Transformed Atlanta and Rocked the Nation (a Nance-site-supporting Amazon link.) I really enjoyed how she takes you through a week-plus in an America that sure seems like part of our distant past.

    Rebecca was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning (for what seemed like a very short time) and did well on a panel with Pat Buchanan, Mike Barnicle, and Al Sharpton. That’s an achievement in itself!

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  7. Tom M said on January 17, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Thanks for the MLK link. His prescience astounds albeit nothing has changed.
    We live in a court-ordered-desegregation school district. In 1982 (here in the ‘burgh we generally run 10 years late) at the time of the merger, the district had about 60% white, 40% black student mix. Today, it’s the opposite as many parents who could move, did. The community next door to mine has 647 school aged, 98% white, only 140 attend the public school or charter alternative.
    It’s truly sad that in the intervening years, as Bob Somerby regularly points out, the country hasn’t really tried to reverse hundreds of years of preventing blacks from learning to read or write. The test scores so bemoaned by the glib punditocracy are the result of that lack.

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  8. Julie Robinson said on January 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    And here in the Fort, where we usually run about 30 years late, we have the parents at a predominantly black school fighting its closure because they do not want their kids to lose their culture by being bused to predominantly white schools. The school is failing on its standardized tests and is about to be shut down by the state. The school district is hoping to avoid the takeover but many parents are for it in the belief, (some would say naive) that all will be wonderful once Mitch Daniels is in charge. Very sad and odd.

    Brian forgot to answer the burning question re Mattie’s dress in the original True Grit.

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  9. brian stouder said on January 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Julie – I held my tongue all the way to that scene, and then asked Pam “Are her clothes wet or dry?” – and she unhesitatingly said “wet”. Little Blackie and she did the river-swim, and then rode up the opposite bank showering water off as they galloped, and then the fellows galloped away from her, and she gave chase – so in fact, they kind of had a chance for her to drip-dry (or at least not be wringing wet).

    But, bear in mind, Pam is used to batting away silly observations from me during movies, so – who knows?

    Regarding Harding and East Allen County Schools, I fear they may get to be the canary in the coal mine for Daniels’ and Bennett’s stupid “privatization” scheme. The Sunday J-G had a tremendously good editorial, comparing how they interpret “public safety” with regrad to police and fire, and “public education” with teachers.

    Surely we wouldn’t CUT police pay for officers who work in the district with the worst crime statistics, right? And yet they want to whack teacher pay for the schools where the most students struggle?

    It was a good’n

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  10. Julie Robinson said on January 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    It was brilliant.

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  11. LAMary said on January 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Happy Birthday, Michelle Obama, and here’s some other White House Birthday news:

    The comments are worth reading.

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  12. nancy said on January 17, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I read about this Reagan-son feud, and I honestly don’t know why. It was clear to anyone with eyes and ears that Reagan was failing by his second term; wasn’t there at least one instance where Nancy was caught on tape feeding him a line, a non-answer to a question, even? (I believe it was, “We’re doing all we can.”) The Reagan White House ran on autopilot, even more so than Bush II’s.

    I guess Michael still wants to wring a few more dimes out of the corpse, so he needs to promote the fairy tale.

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  13. LAMary said on January 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Reagan also told stories that never happened. Like claiming he was present at the liberation of Auschwitz.

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  14. nancy said on January 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    And the little ball-turret gunner who only existed on film.

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  15. coozledad said on January 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I went to hear Kurt Vonnegut speak at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill several years back, and Vonnegut had a sharp assessment of Reagan: He hit his stride as a flack for GE and ceased to mature from that point forward.
    There were indications of Reagan’s crippling senility when he was negotiating
    the INF treaty with Gorbachev, and Reagan hauled out a copy of The Weekly World News to try and switch the conversation around to something he understood (Bat Boy, or a 500 pound woman spontaneously bursting into flames?)
    The continued deification of Reagan is symptomatic of the essential backwardness of this country, and a good indication of just what flavor of third world hellhole its owners want it to be: that’s Pinochet-lite, mostly.

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  16. Little Bird said on January 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    This is why incidents like what happened in Tuscon happen.

    Okay, it’s part of why.

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  17. LAMary said on January 17, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    What have we done to deserve this.

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  18. nancy said on January 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    This is why the right is always on about Hollywood. We get, they get these two.

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  19. coozledad said on January 17, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I never knew “Portuguese Man o’War” was a look.

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  20. prospero said on January 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    My friends and I tormented Donald Lobsinger for fun and the hell of it. This idiot would be considered a traitor by his obvious current prodigy, the little teapots, because he had a city job. Breakthrough was a Bircher offshoot, and these people were fish in a barrel for radicalized white suburban kids going to City private schools. The motto of Breakthrough was SASO, Study, Arm, Store Provisions, and Organize. At a rally, my friends and I started yelling at Lobsinger, “What about the Y?” Honest to God, this bonehead male Palin progenitor turned, looked at his carefully rendered sign, turned to a compatriot and audibly asked SASOY? From shen on, there were always hooligans on hand to drown out this little jerk with chants of “SaSoy?” Detroit cops were protective of Lobsinger’s cabal, and our escapes were frequently by the skin of our teeth, and occasionally not altogether successful. Once, attempting escape after a water ballon attack, a bunch of us got caught trying to disappear in the lobby of the Penobscott Building. People inside barred the doors and trapped us for the TMU thugs that were chasing us. Missed swimming practice for a week with the beating.

    This bigoted little bastard was a great player of the SP brand of the race card. White people as the real victims. Seriously? Study? Arm? Store Provisions? Organize? SASOY. Sounds uncomfortably familiar, and I hadn’t thought about this in years. I do remember that nobody was open-carrying, though. In Detroit back then, that would have gotten you dead, fast, unless you were a really quick-draw.

    On Raygun’s delusions: When he chose a desk from the WH Stores for the Oval Office, he was told it had been used by Grover Cleveland. Ronnie said “I played him once in a movie.” First day of first term, commingling American president with famous alky pitcher.

    I always thought that Letter from a Birmingham Jail was MLK at his finest, rhetorically and philosophically. And the campaign worked effectively in this case. Bull Connor was run out of town for using fire hoses and German shepherds on innocent children, and the virulence of racism in parts of the Southern USA was manifested to the world.

    I think what mommy actually said was “Tell ,em we’re doing the best that we can.” I recall seeing this on TV. Her tone was nasty. I think we had people over to watch SNL and then go clubbing, and enough pot had been inhaled that the whole thing produced a very lively discussion of whether this episode really happened or was part of a skit.

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  21. LAMary said on January 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    “…I never knew “Portuguese Man o’War” was a look.”

    It is. That woman makes it her own too. She makes it work.

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  22. Julie Robinson said on January 17, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Love the way they rhyme jail & hell.

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  23. johnc said on January 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I watched mmost of Miss America because my kids wanted to watch it, which made me remember when I was a kid and actually thought Miss America was a real and important thing. We all laughed at the little Board of Tourism pitch lines each woman gave for her state. But my jaw dropped when Miss Utah said something along the lines of: I’m so proud to be here with 53 women who share a lot, but NOT a husband.” Bam!
    I’m very surprised I haven’t any controversy about this.
    I also liked it when they brought out all the former Miss Americas, including the legendary Kay Lonnie Rae Rofko, who tried to save Flint.

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  24. Little Bird said on January 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    “…and when she gets to Washington it’ll be cold as hell.”

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  25. Peter said on January 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Judith F. Christ, that thing’s scary. Did they say “cold lass” or “dumb ass”?

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  26. Deborah said on January 17, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    LAMary, that was mortifying. When I watch things like that I get so embarrassed for the performers. Was that in some kind of church? Sad and pathetic.

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  27. Peter said on January 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    John C, did they bring out Nancy Anne Fleming from Montague, Michigan?

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  28. harrison said on January 17, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Nancy, clean underwear and something to eat beat an organized house any time, any day.

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  29. Jolene said on January 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Definitely in a church, Deborah, because the table in front of the lectern says, “This do in remembrance of me.” We can only hope it wasn’t actually a church service.

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  30. MarkH said on January 17, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    It is indeed valid to speculate that Reagan had early Alzheimer’s onset in his last two years in office. It was famously leaked in 1987 for example, that then chief of staff Howard Baker became alarmed at Reagan’s forgetfulness and seeming disinterest. He warned close staff members to “keep and eye on him” for odd behavior and report it to him.

    However, the Auschwitz story is an old canard, a story that got twisted as it got retold. None other than Ron, Jr. helps debunk it here:

    Reagan never said he took this film, nor said he was at Auschwitz. He kept the film to show as an occasional reminder to people, just as Ron, Jr. said.

    Also, Nancy, while Reagan clearly embellished the ball-turret story with the pilot’s line, there was factual basis for it, from none other than Andy Rooney, here:

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  31. MarkH said on January 17, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    EDIT on #30 — There are reports that Reagan told Ytzak Shamir and Simon Wiesenthal that he was at Auschwitz for the liberation, but attending staff members denied he actually did say it. Language malfunction was claimed. Also, not only did Reagan embellish the ball-turret story with the pilot’s intent and line from a movie, he made the medal of honor part.

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  32. prospero said on January 17, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    The newsreel is beside the point. Reagan told the story of being there for the liberation of Auschwitz, despite never having left the USA during the war. To Itzhak Rabin and Simon Wiesenthal, no less. Raygun hagiographers can’t have it both ways. Either the Great Communicator was having problems on the uptake early on, and had the wool pulled over his OlTimers eyes by global miscreants like Rummy and Cheney, or he was part and complicit parcel of one of the most heinous collaborative acts of treason in American history, Iran-Contra, with the attendant international banking and war crimes. One way or the other.

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  33. LAMary said on January 17, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    It bothers me that it didn’t occur to Reagan that no one would be able to know the ball turret gunner’s story since no one survived. He tells the story and adds that the guy got a medal posthumously for doing something no one would know he had done. Why do so many people adore this guy?

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  34. Bitter Scribe said on January 17, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    I always thought it was a little weird for the Memphis Grizzlies to make a tradition of playing a matinee game on MLK Day. I mean, let’s honor the anniversary of a great man’s birth by playing day basketball in the city where he was murdered? But whatever. The Bulls won by 12 points. Go Derrick Rose (first career triple-double).

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  35. Dexter said on January 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I was never in a Dr. King audience, but by happenstance I was in Chicago for a baseball game at Wrigley Field the day Dr. King was struck in the head with a rock at Marquette Park…same city, anyway. I remember hearing a lot of racist talk by the adults around me , at the game and on the city bus we rode to the game…and man, that rock really hit Dr. King hard…we could have lost him in 1966, when this happened.,0,4515753.story

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  36. Linda said on January 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Miss America take: OMFG! She has her roots hanging out. The dreaded brunette alley.

    I remember when the event was big–and people looked forward to it/knew ahead of time that it would be on. It was usually the first Saturday after Labor Day, and coincided with my sister Laurel’s birthday party.

    Re: MLK Day. It wouldn’t be a holiday without some conservative asshat showing his “courage” by blowing off the whole thing with a gratuitous insult. So the NAACP is a “special interest group” and can kiss his butt? (He later recanted and cleared his schedule). I guess that the anti abortion group he joined two days ago wasn’t a special interest group at all. Bonus goodness: he drags his adopted son into the controversy.

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  37. MarkH said on January 18, 2011 at 1:35 am

    LAMary — radio transmissions. As Andy Rooney depicted in the Snopes story, and in the movie Reagan stole the quote from, A Wing And A Prayer. The radio transmissions were monitored. It would have been known. Doesn’t justify Reagan’s theatrics, of course.

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  38. Dexter said on January 18, 2011 at 1:59 am

    Ratso Rizzo made a famous proclamation in “Midnight Cowboy”…”The two things essential for life are sunshine and coconut milk”.
    I disagree. For me, they are a daily clean pair of Jockeys and a can of Barbasol with a razor.

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  39. John G. Wallace said on January 18, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Surely you aren’t suggesting Reagan didn’t know what he was doing? I have to extend credit to him for making America feel better about itself, and ending that national feeling of malise decribed by Jimmy Carter. Still we all know it was really like this at the White house:

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  40. Suzanne said on January 18, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Holy cow. I nearly started a family fight at Thanksgiving last year when my bro-in-law, who had met the Miss America from Indiana when she made an appearance at his local parochial school (she is Lutheran, you know!)and was waxing eloquent about what a fine, Christian young woman she was, and how beautiful. I mentioned that I thought fine, Christian role models for our youth don’t parade around on stage in stiletto heels and bikinis (looking very similar to the Victoria’s Secret underwear show) or tight, revealing evening gowns to be judged on how well proportioned their bodies are. Geeze! He about had a stroke defending her, and my mo-in-law said I was just envious. I think the Miss America has outlived its time.

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  41. Tom M said on January 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Linda, go see the whole array at the alicublog annual MLK post. Roy summarizes the, well, best hardly describes it.
    To witless: .the King holiday was proclaimed, after considerable, racist intimidation, when the nation knew hardly anything about him,…

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