Honoring the realm of grand coincidence …
I’ve been reading Jonathan Eig’s “King,” a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and sure enough, reached the March on Washington, “I Have a Dream” chapter last night.
This was after my best attempt to watch the first debate of the Republican presidential campaign season.
Brief aside on that. From sheer process of elimination, one can dismiss former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, former Vice-President Mike Pence and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum right out of the gate. No spark. No charisma. No “there” there. Pence touting Trump’s record, but not bearing the last name ‘Trump’ just makes little sense in the mix if the Truwmp guy is running. Burgum a decent man but clearly just angling for a cabinet position in someone else’s administration. Hutchinson, a 72-year old patrician who would prompt the fast-forward button after about twenty seconds of prattle, and Scott, who hails from Dullsville, and seemingly doesn’t understand you need more than just a different skin tone to stand out.
This left Ramaswamy, who is clearly brilliant … and was winning me over until he actually broadcast a few of his positions. He would abandon Ukraine to Russia. He also said he thinks Trump has been the greatest president of the 21st century.
My expectations for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were low, and he did surpass them. But unfortunately, he bears more than a passing resemblance to Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman. And when the spotlight is on, he seems to shrink. Can’t remember much of what he said.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley won some points for calling out politicians of both parties for their profligate spending habits. And she kept the pressure on Ramaswamy when he tried to pivot and squirm on Ukraine. Is she prime time material? Remains to be seen.
This leaves former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Whom I believe was best of this lot. He can take the heat, dish it out, has command, is unafraid to call out Trump. He comes across as an executive who’s made his share of mistakes, and has learned from them.
Back to King. 60th anniversary of the March on Washington is on Monday.
On August 28, 1963, in front of a crowd of 250,000 at the Lincoln Memorial, MLK was supposed to deliver a 10-minute speech.
After his prepared remarks were nearly finished, this is what happened according to Eig:
“Many journalists assumed he was done. TV networks began to cut away. Silence engulfed the mall; 250,000 people waited. Three months later, King told an interviewer he didn’t know why he ‘turned aside’ from his prepared speech, quit it completely, looked up from his typewritten pages … and then began one of the most famous orations in American history.”
*What I’m starting to realize … that history, now 60 years out, is so fuzzy. In the Sheet office, the running joke is how little pop culture history has spilled over to the 20-somethings who work for me. For example, neither of the young people sitting in this office today has ever seen “Cool Hand Luke.”
If you’d asked me to tell you what I knew of MLK prior to reading this book, I could have told you about the speech and the national holiday and perhaps the letter from the Birmingham jail, but what you really begin to appreciate as you read about his life is … his relentlessness over the course of his 13 years as the de facto leader of the Civil Rights movement after he rose to prominence at the age of 26 during the Montgomery bus boycotts.
From 1955-1968, there were 13 years of death threats. And beatings. And bombings.
From the very beginning, he knew he would be murdered
He was jailed 29 times.
He was wiretapped and threatened with blackmail by the FBI.
He was stabbed in the chest with a 7” letter opener in 1958. “Surgeons later said the blade had cut but not completely severed King’s aorta. If anyone had tried to remove the letter opener, King would have died instantly. Even a sudden movement, such as a sneeze, might have killed him.”
And yet, he kept on coming. There was no other way to do it.
“It seems to me that it is both historically and sociologically true that privileged classes do not give up their privileges voluntarily. And they do not give them up without strong resistance.”
As he told reporters who pointed out that he would be violating a court injunction by his plan to march in a 1962 demonstration in Virginia, “I have so many injunctions that I don’t even look at them anymore. I was enjoined January 15, 1929 when I was born in the United States a negro.”