Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Slow Awakening

"I said very emphatically and very definately that an order be issued...to shoot to kill any arsonist or anyone with a molotov cocktail...and...to shoot to maim or cripple anyone looting stores in our city."
Mayor Richard J. Daley

"While others make war on the poor, King made war on what made them poor."
Michael Eric Dyson, April 4, 1968

After school on April 5, 1968, the day after the assasination of Martin Luther King, Jr, I took the Chicago & Northwestern train into Chicago, walked eight blocks east, and rode the "L" north to Clark and Division. As I exited and walked west to Wells Street, the backbone of bohemian Old Town and just a few blocks north of the Cabrini Green housing project, I passed a little group of stores with broken doors and windows. Teenagers scrambled through the rubble, pulling out appliances, clothes, and food. Turning north on Wells, I saw people rushing to board up the windows of their stores as if a tornado was about to touch down. A storekeeper yelled at me to "get the hell out of here. Run," he cried. I took his advice and ran north and then east to Lake Michigan. Later that evening I sat in Orchestra Hall downtown and listened to Phil Ochs or Tom Paxton sing antiwar songs. Over those few days there were over 125 fires, 500 injured, and 3,000 arrested in Chicago. Eleven people -- all Black -- were killed.

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1 comment:

designated agent said...

those were the times of the unknown and unimaginable for some.