From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, January 19, 2017
How has MLK changed us?
This past Monday was Martin Luther King Jr.’s (MLK) birthday. We were enjoying a day off of school, and I wondered what the holiday meant to my family, and to others I know. I began noticing my Facebook feed leading up to today was spattered with MLK tributes and quotes. There were a few longer ramblings speaking out against the social injustices and discrimination, so it was easy to see that on social media this was an important holiday to people I know.
To find out what my children thought, I decided to interview all four of them separately. I would ask: “What do you know about MLK, and what does this day mean to you?” A little disclosure here – I took each of them away from playing games on the Nintendo and X-box. They were interested in the questions but more interested in getting back to the games.
Here were some of their answers:
“We are celebrating him and his ‘I have a dream speech, and that he changed the rules about dark and white people. And sitting on the bus, dark people don’t have to give up their seats.”
“I read a book about him and he was a good leader, and helped people who were mistreated. He helped our world be different so that everyone would be treated equally.”
“He was great because he helped all people, and was a protector.
My oldest child said’ “Blacks were freed but were still segregated, and he was a great person in the Civil Rights movement to help start that change. He went against the rules of society and paved the path for others to speak out.
After my deposition of their young minds, (and in their small world) I don’t think they can fully understand the meaning of discrimination – nor do they believe segregation still exist.
Growing up in Indianapolis, my high school had a demographic split of around 60 percent white, and 40 percent black. I certainly had an opportunity for a good mix of cultural experiences. As I went off to college, I had roommates of color throughout. With that said, I still don’t know what it would be like to walk in the shoes of an African-American – to be denied service, routinely pulled over, or to be scrutinized by the color of my skin. I cannot even begin to understand what that is like, and it’s simply not my world.
I wonder if today’s segregation is now a symptom of a lack of opportunities, and is undergirded by discrimination. Yes, we see there are now football coaches, quarterbacks and even a president who is black. These achievements have all happened in my lifetime, but there are so many industries where the glass ceiling is still a reality for many today
I know that MLK’s work is not yet done – especially when we see pockets of poverty around us and where there is limited opportunities for these folks. The city of Chicago deciding to eliminate many of the low-income housing options forced a lot of these residents to find homes in Dupage County.
You don’t need to look far to find opportunities to continue the work of MLK.
Many people in our community are involved in a charitable organization called Willowbrook Corner. Located in unincorporated areas near Interstate 55 and IL. Rte. 83, Willowbrook Corner
is an outreach of The Community House
in Hinsdale, providing academic tutoring and social support to local at-risk youth and families.
Another pocket that gaining traction is known as the Roosevelt Road Initiative
. My home church is involved in this venture and is partnering with organizations and people to develop sustainable relationships so that folks in need get the education and opportunity that MLK had hoped for.
Helping people to have more opportunities and to be treated as equals is just the beginning, and my hope is that my children will one day see a new reality – a reality that MLK saw at the mountaintop.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” MLK
Mike is a Clarendon Hills
resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlights a new business, or announces school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history
. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.
Courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution King family portrait: The last official portrait taken of the entire family. The photo was taken in the study of Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1966. From left are Dexter King, Yolanda King (standing next to MLK), Martin Luther King Jr., Bernice King (sitting on Coretta’s lap), Coretta Scott King, and Martin Luther King III.