It is startling to realize how much the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. accomplished in a life span that did not even reach 40 years.
At the year’s Modern Language Association (MLA) convention, Adrienne Brown of the University of Chicago remembered, arguably, one of Dr. King’s less successful crusades. In 1966 Dr. King and his wife Coretta moved into the dilapidated housing Chicago’s blacks endured and attempted to rehabilitate it and get the attention of the municipal administration of Chicago mayor Richard Daley.
Andrew Young, who worked with Dr. King, remembered that babies in the projects were wrapped in newspaper rather than blankets. Dr. King eventually did get the attention of the Daley administration, and compromises on the housing front, from Chicago’s legendary political boss.
What got Daley’s attention was the widely circulated photo of Dr. King getting a rock thrown at him at a demonstration. “Mayor Daley did not want to be the Bull Connor of Chicago,” Brown opined.
Most English departments are represented at the MLA along with the various “studies” that proliferate in academe. Brown herself is an assistant professor at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality at the University of Chicago.
Photo by U.S. Embassy New Delhi