It was fifty years ago today (June 8, 1968) that Senator Robert F. Kennedy had his funeral in Manhattan and a train procession to Washington D.C., for his burial after being shot on June 5, 1968 after winning the California Democratic primary for president of the United States. His assassination, funeral, and the long train ride to Arlington National Cemetery are seared into the national memory as well as my own who heard and watched on radio and television all these historic events unfold as a child. It is a memorable series of life-changing happenings for the nation, similar to when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and his long funeral train procession from Washington, D.C. to Illinois took place in 1865. Before Lincoln’s funeral train went on to its final destination of Springfield, Illinois, the president’s body lay in state in Chicago. There, as it experienced in its other stops across several states, throngs greeted the Civil War president and, as History would have it, my great-grandfather who was in the Union army at that time served as one of Lincoln’s honor guards.
On June 8, 1968, brides and bridesmaids tossed their wedding bouquets at RFK’s funeral train when it passed in order to make their final good-byes. Though weddings and funerals are very different, they have similarities for being one of humanity’s great milestones, a significant rite of passage, where what was or has been, has died and what lies ahead is mysterious. It is recorded that one of RFK’s favorite songs was Where have all the flowers gone?, the modern folk song written by Pete Seeger which became a big hit, a number one musical sensation, in 1962, when RFK was Attorney General of the United States. The song is its own meditation on life’s transience – with its carriage of universal mortality – and whose lyrics, which Bobby Kennedy’s intuition understood perhaps more than he knew – grew more and more prophetic as the 1960’s moved forward.
Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing Where have all the flowers gone? Long time ago Where have all the flowers gone? Girls have picked them every one When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?
Where have all the young girls gone? Long time passing Where have all the young girls gone? Long time ago Where have all the young girls gone? Taken husbands every one When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?
Where have all the young men gone? Long time passing Where have all the young men gone? Long time ago Where have all the young men gone? Gone for soldiers every one When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?
Where have all the soldiers gone? Long time passing Where have all the soldiers gone? Long time ago…
In the JFK Library in Boston, there’s a multi-page document which is RFK’s campaign schedule for president from June 7 to June 17, 1968. Typed and single-spaced for over 11 pages, it became immediately moribund as the candidate who in just the last 10 weeks had won four out of five state primaries he entered – both in the Midwest (Indiana, Nebraska, and South Dakota) and the West (California) – had his unexpected and premature rendezvous with death.
On June 7, 1968, Senator Kennedy of New York was not to be lying in state at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan but on a 6 a.m. flight from L.A. to St. Louis for a luncheon with convention delegates. He then was to fly to New York State for a flurry of campaign appearances starting at Niagara Falls which would literally take him working into the early hours of the next day. On June 8, 1968, RFK was not to be funeralized with a train procession to follow for burial at Arlington, but making campaign appearances all over New York State from dawn to dusk. On June 9 he was not to lay silent on a hill below Custis House, not far from his brother, the slain 35th President of the United States, but…
Perhaps RFK’s legacy for Democrats in 2018 and beyond is not that, as many insist, the New Deal Democratic coalition died along those rails on June 8, 1968 – fifty years ago today – but that it continues inherently with every progress and advancement made in society and, importantly, from and for all sides of American life. RFK’s brand of American politics for the Democratic Party is one that looks to include more of a wide array of political viewpoints than one would easily imagine possible or manageable. On June 8, 1968, Cecil Smith, of Charleston, South Carolina, was quoted in The Washington Evening Star as calling Kennedy “a wonderful man — a man of everybody.” Kennedy would never stop trying to govern from a grassroots political perspective which is creative and critical of extremes or mere pragmatism on behalf of the noble pursuit to be elected to high office so to effectively lead a diverse and great nation into a better future for all.
In today’s moribund politics of division, RFK’s ideals for America were no less difficult to achieve in 1968 than in 2018 – or beyond. After RFK was killed, an already-polarized presidential election of 1968 led to a predominance over the next fifty years of a strong brand of partisan politics. Kennedy’s more inclusive approach turned up historically truncated and, with decades of often mean-spirited political partisanship, even chafed at as exotic or, at least, futile. Yet that Kennedy brand of Democratic politics would never accept such defeatism then or now.
RFK’s last words to the American people moments before he was shot speaks volumes to his governing approach or methodology for the future and which absolutely requires the many hands and votes of the American people to accomplish, whether it is 1968 or 2018. RFK said: “What I think is quite clear is that we can work together in the last analysis. What has been going on in the United States for the last three years – the divisions, the violence, the disenchantment with our society – the division, whether it’s between blacks and whites, the poor and the more affluent, or between different age groups or the war in Vietnam, that we can start to work together, that we are a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country. And I intend to make that my basis for running over the next few months… The country wants to move in a different direction. We want to deal with our own problems in our own country and we want peace in Vietnam…The fact is all of us are involved in this great effort – and it’s a great effort not on behalf of the Democratic Party – it’s a great effort on behalf of the United States – on behalf of our own people- on behalf of mankind all around the globe and the next generation of Americans… What we are going to do in the rural areas of our country? What we are going to do for those who still suffer in the United States from hunger? What we are going to do around the rest of the globe? And whether we are going to continue the policies that have been so unsuccessful, in Vietnam of American troops and American marines carrying the major burden of that conflict I do not want to and I think we should move in a different direction. So I thank all of you who made this possible this evening, all of the effort that you have made, and all of the people whose names I haven’t mentioned but did all of the work…So I thank all of you…And now it’s on to Chicago and let’s win there…”
“Over the Top to Victory” is a bronze sculpture that depicts an American infantryman in World War I (known popularly as “doughboys”) that was created by American sculptor John Paulding (1883-1935).
The statue was cast in 1921 by the American Art Bronze Foundry in Chicago and stands in Memorial Park in Wheaton, Illinois.
Paulding studied sculpture at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is best remembered today for his World War I memorials.
When the United States entered World War I in April 1917 the soldiers fought valiantly. An armistice was signed on November 11, 1918—the origin of today’s Veterans Day—in a victory for the allies. The war had started in August 1914 and had gone on for over four years.
The statue was dedicated on Armistice Day, November 11, 1929, in honor of all World War I veterans in Wheaton, Illinois. Memorial Park had been established in central Wheaton in 1921 specifically to honor war veterans. Four months before this statue was dedicated—on July 12, 1929—the WheatonIllinoian opined about The Doughboy: “The statue is a fitting memorial to the soldiers of the community who died fighting for our cause. Let us not forget so easily!”
After more than 70 years standing proudly outside in the elements, the statue was refurbished and conserved in August 2000 by Venus Bronze Work, Inc., in Detroit, Michigan—and rededicated on Veteran’s Day of that year. The same local American Legion Post led the dedication ceremonies in both 1929 and 2000.
A closed-down weather-beaten replica of the very first McDonald’s franchise restaurant started by Ray Kroc (1902-1984) on April 15, 1955 standing on its original site in Des Plaines, Illinois, is slated to be demolished by McDonald’s Corporation with its land donated or possibly sold.
It was not long ago that McDonald’s touted that approximately one in every eight American workers had been employed by the company (Source: McDonald’s estimate in 1996) and that even today McDonald’s hires around 1 million workers in the U.S. every year. By 1961 there were 230 McDonald’s franchises in the United States. In 2017 there was 37, 241 McDonald’s restaurants worldwide. Not only historians and historic preservationists decry the imminent demolition of the first McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines, Illinois, just west of Chicago, but others impressed by its direct significance to the growth and impact to U.S. labor history as well as the American restaurant industry and American automotive culture in the post-World War II era. Further, McDonald’s restaurants today reach into 121 other countries around the world influencing and being influenced by global cuisine. That all of this cultural and business import was born on a now-threatened patch of land on Lee Street in Des Plaines, Illinois, is impressive.
It appears that if and when McDonald’s follows through on its November 2017 decision to raze the building and give up the site, this originally-designed McDonald’s restaurant on Ray Kroc’s original site in Des Plaines will be forever lost. The story of how that planned demolition of this unique piece of Americana came to be began 35 years ago. It was on March 3, 1984 that after 29 years of continual operation the original franchise restaurant on the original site was permanently closed and demolished. Founder and former McDonald’s Corporation chairman Ray Kroc had died less than six weeks before in January 1984 at 81 years old in San Diego, California.
The McDonald’s restaurant brand opened its first burger bar called McDonald’s Bar-B-Q in California in 1940 – and, by 1953, brothers Maurice and Richard McDonald started a small franchise business in Phoenix, Arizona and Downey, California. Today’s nationwide and global franchise empire that serves 75 burgers every second (Source: McDonald’s Operations and Training Manual) began when Oak Park, Illinois-born Ray Kroc, a paper-cup-turned-milkshake-machine salesman, convinced the McDonald brothers to let him franchise their business nationwide. Kroc offered to manage the franchises in the U.S., excepting the brothers’ first franchises in Arizona and California, and the pair were to receive a tiny percentage of gross sales nationwide in return.
Kroc’s first walk-up franchise McDonald’s restaurant at the “Five Corners” intersection in Des Plaines, Illinois, served an assembly-line format menu of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries and a selection of drinks. In 1955, he founded McDonald’s System, Inc., a predecessor of the McDonald’s Corporation, and six years later bought the exclusive rights to the McDonald’s name and operating system. By 1961, Ray Kroc’s vision had clearly paid off for the now 59-year-old former paper cup salesman. That same year, Kroc bought out the McDonald brothers for $2.7 million and launched his strict training program, later called “Hamburger University, ” in nearby Elk Grove Village, Illinois, at another of his 230 new McDonald’s restaurants. Ray Kroc’s original vision was that there should be 1,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. When Kroc died in January 1984, his goal had been exceeded six fold — there were 6,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. and internationally in 1980.
The Des Plaines suburban location of Ray Kroc’s very first McDonald’s franchise retains its relatively humble setting even as the McDonald’s Corporation it spawned earns $27 billion in annual sales making it the 90th-largest economy in the world (Source: SEC). Kroc, the milkshake machine salesman who convinced the McDonald brothers to let him franchise their fast-food operation nationwide, saw his original McDonald’s franchise at 400 Lee St. in Des Plaines open for business until, shortly after his death, it closed on Saturday, March 3, 1984.
In 1984 there were no plans to preserve the site – its golden arches and road sign had been carted away – but a public outcry prompted McDonald’s in 1985 to return the restaurant’s restored original sign designed by Andrew Bork and Joe Sicuro of Laco Signs of Libertyville, Illinois, and dedicate a restaurant replica that still exists today on the original site though it is now slated for demolition. The historic red neon-lettered sign turned on for the opening of Kroc’s first store on April 15, 1955 – there is one similar to it preserved in The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan dating from 1960 – proclaimed “McDonald’s Hamburgers” and “We Have Sold Over 1 Million” and, intersecting with an iconic golden arch displayed a neon-animated “Speedee” chef, the fast food chain’s original mascot. (The clown figure of Ronald McDonald first appeared in 1963).
The day after the original restaurant closed – Sunday, March 4, 1984 – a McDonald’s restaurant franchise moved across the street into a state-of-the-art new building on a site that once accommodated a Howard Johnson’s and, after that, a Ground Round. The full-service McDonald’s in Des Plaines, Illinois, today continues to operate out of that 1984 building. It may confuse the visitor which exactly is the original site of the first McDonald’s as the newer 1984 building not on the first site displays inside a high-relief metal sign that reads: “The national chain of McDonald’s was born on this spot with the opening of this restaurant.” Though undated, it is signed by Ray Kroc which points to it being brought over from the original restaurant when it was closed. At the replica restaurant on the original site two metal plaques (dated April 15, 1985) properly proclaim: “Ray A. Kroc, founder of McDonald’s Corporation, opened his first McDonald’s franchise (the ninth McDonald’s drive-in in the U.S.) on this site, April 15, 1955.”
A few months after the first franchise restaurant was closed and demolished in 1984, the parcel of land on which it sat – it had only always been leased since 1955 – was purchased by McDonald’s at the same time they announced plans for the replica landmark restaurant.
The original architectural plans by architect Robert Stauber from the mid1950’s were lost, so 1980’s planners applied architectural drawings of McDonald’s restaurants built in the late 1950’s for the replica. Its kitchen included refurbished equipment brought out of storage, including the restaurant’s original six-foot grill. It also displayed one of Ray Kroc’s original multimixers like the ones he sold to Maurice and Richard McDonald that started a fast-food partnership in the 1950’s which by the mid-1960’s inspired many well-known copy cats of McDonald’s model, including Burger King, Burger Chef, Arbys, KFC, and Hardee’s.
The original restaurant had been remodeled several times during its almost 30 years of operation but never had much in the way of indoor seating or a drive-through. It did feature a basement and furnace built for Chicago’s four seasons and was used by the replica museum to exhibit items. The McDonald’s Museum was open for tours until September 2008 when the site experienced record-setting flooding from the nearby Des Plaines River. In April 2013 another record flood in Des Plaines submerged the McDonald’s Museum and produced serious speculation that the site would be moved or permanently closed.
In mid-July 2017, only four years since the last significant flood, the area experienced its worst flooding on record. In November 2017 McDonald’s announced it would raze the replica restaurant structure and by May 2018 the site had had its utilities disconnected and its golden arches, Speedee sign, and main entrance McDonald’s sign dismantled and removed. These historically valuable items were taken by McDonald’s out of public view to an undisclosed location. Once again, and this time more seriously it appears, the prospect of pleas by Des Plaines municipal authorities, historic preservationists, social media and others for McDonald’s Corporation to preserve the site intact is murky at best.
Like JFK in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Trump in 2017 must use the military and moral strength of the U.S. to seek and find a conclusion so that North Korea changes course on their nuclear weapons peacefully.
By John P. Walsh, dated August 9, 2017
In addition to Twitter, the media tells us that U.S. President Donald J. Trump loves to watch a lot of TV. I hope he has seen this film: Virtual JFK (2008). “Does it matter,” the film’s narrator states, “who is president on issues of war and peace? Can a president make a decisive difference in matters of war and peace? Can a president decisively lead his country into war or keep his country out of war? Or are the forces that drive nations into conflict far more impersonal (and) out of the control of any human being, even a president?”
In 2014 nine nations around the world—including North Korea—have around 16,300 nuclear weapons. Estimates are that North Korea’s arsenal today may be about 20 warheads or higher. In descending order of warhead amounts, the other nuclear states are Russia (8,000 warheads), the U.S.A. (7,300), France (300), China (250), the UK (225), India and Pakistan (about 100 each) and Israel (80). According to the National Security Archive, the last tactical nuclear weapons left Cuba in December 1962. For a rogue state such as North Korea to possess nuclear weapons is dangerous and unpredictable to the region and world.
Like JFK in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the U.S. must use its military and moral strength to seek and find a conclusion so that North Korea changes course on their nuclear weapons peacefully. Exactly what that change should look like is an important debate not explored here, but the U.S. must NOT and NEVER start or provoke a nuclear war to achieve it. Kennedy prepared for nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but always carefully did not pull the trigger. There can be no close analogy between Cuba in 1962 and North Korea in 2017. Cuba is 90 miles off American shores and North Korea about 6,500 miles from the Continental U.S. In the Cuban Missile Crisis, those were clearly Russian nukes. The Cold War by the early 1960’s was a well-worn competitive geopolitical game that hadn’t yet completely played out. The Russians built a wall in Berlin in 1961; Kennedy quarantined Cuba in 1962. In 2017 what is the multiplicity of sources Trump can hold accountable for the North Korean weapons deployment in addition to the rogue regime? China? Russia? Iran? If Pyongyang is today as remote and obscure as the Kremlin was in Kennedy’s time, today’s political and military equations are even more tangled and complicated.
Any calculations for war must include those who may or will get killed – and how many. Is American “hyper” power any good if its allies are casualties on a massive scale? No nuclear exchange must result with a hermit kingdom dictator who is not a friend of the U.S. or its allies in the region – especially if war may incalculably spread. If the U.S. has allies in the true meaning of the word then an attack on them by North Korea (or China or Russia) is equal to an attack on the homeland – otherwise what’s the point of the U.S. having allies at all? We must protect our allies in the region to the highest degree so to defend and preserve our esteemed alliances. In this dangerous politico-military crisis there are ramifications with severe strong risk for the U.S. as a global power and markedly in that part of the world. North Korea must somehow stand down for there to be success from the perspective of the U.S and its allies.
Similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis that endured for 13 straight days—the Korean crisis has gone on arguably for over 60 years — patience and cool-headed leadership joined to a perfect calibration of carrot and stick (preferring the carrot) should serve as worthwhile qualities so to craft a necessarily peaceful and successful outcome. “Because of the ingenuity of science and man’s own inability to control his relations one with another,” said JFK in 1961 in Virtual JFK, “we happen to live in the most dangerous time in the history of the human race.” The film states that experienced military advisers believed that whenever Americans committed military force – they won the conflict. But as frequent and strong pressure by many advisers is put on Kennedy to commit the U.S. to a war, the president time and again chose to avoid both conventional and nuclear war. It may not be remembered today but after the failure of the Bay of Pigs in 1961, there was talk of John Kennedy’s impeachment for incompetence. Many in his own Democratic party wouldn’t support him because they had convinced themselves he wasn’t a serious political leader.
In 2017 the defeat of 33-year-old Kim Jong-un’s nuclear threat short of war will not be simply a victory for the status quo but a step forward in terms of American leadership in that part of the world. An actual war, unless it could be completely nonnuclear, contained, and successful – which is improbable – cannot be in any civilized people’s self-interest. Of course if Kim started a nuclear war, which is hopefully very remote but possible, war will come, as Trump said plainly on August 8, 2017, with “fire and fury.” In October 1962 Kennedy’s speech to the nation on the Cuban Missile Crisis included this “fiery” rhetoric: “Third: It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” JFK concluded with the overall purpose of his actions: “Our goal is not the victory of might, but the vindication of right – not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this hemisphere, and we hope, around the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved.” In 2017 we may look for a resolution to the North Korea crisis where history repeats itself.
All through the Cold War Kennedy looked into the face of strategic MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) without blinking and then chose to evoke the better angels of our nature. At the United Nations in his first year as president (September 25, 1961) Kennedy exhorted the world’s representatives: “Together we shall save our planet – or together we shall perish in its flames. Save it we can. Save it we must. Then shall we earn the eternal thanks of mankind and, as peacemakers, the eternal blessing of God.” President Trump would do well to aspire to the same.
CBS newsman Walter Cronkite speaks at a ceremony at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington celebrating the 35th anniversary of Apollo 11 in 2004.
By John P. Walsh, November 4, 2016.
INTRODUCTION: The date of November 4, 2016 is American newsman Walter Cronkite’s 100th birthday. The CBS News anchor died in 2009 at 92 years old. Employed with CBS News since 1950, Cronkite anchored the CBS Evening News from April 1962 to Friday, March 6, 1981. Walter Cronkite lived by professional journalistic standards that appear to be largely out of favor in 2016. Working in times as exhilarating and turbulent as our own, the mustached newsman came nightly into Americans’ living rooms for decades and became lionized as “the most trusted man in America” in viewer polls. This was not, in Cronkite’s case, any hollow accolade. Because of its accuracy and depth in reporting, Cronkite’s broadcast was, after 1967 until his retirement, the top-rated news program on television. Since grade school I have been a news junkie and, along with Cronkite’s broadcast in those same years, I frequently tuned in the nightly newscasts of Howard K. Smith at ABC (originally at CBS) and John Chancellor at NBC. To quote Bob Dylan, this year’s Nobel laureate in Literature: The Times They Are a-Changin’. In 2016 there is an obvious conflation of journalism and partisan American politics at many important media outlets, including Cronkite’s own diverse and venerable CBS News. What, if any, is or should be the line of advocacy and objectivity in journalism? The formula promulgated in and by the media today appears ill-fitted to Cronkite’s inveterate viewpoint for the duty to objective reporting. What would centenarian Walter Cronkite say about the spectrum of media bias as practiced in 2016? In honor of Walter Cronkite’s 100th birthday, here are Cronkite quotations germane to the subject:
“I am in a position to speak my mind. And that is what I propose to do.”
“Our job is only to hold up the mirror – to tell and show the public what has happened.”
“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.”
“There is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free or you are not free.”
American military journalists undergoing combat flight training for bombing missions in 1943. Left to right: Gladwin Hill, William Wade, Robert Post, Walter Cronkite, Homer Bigart, and Paul Manning.
“Success is more permanent when you achieve it without destroying your principles.”
“I think it is absolutely essential in a democracy to have competition in the media, a lot of competition, and we seem to be moving away from that.”
“Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine.”
“There’s a little more ego involved in these jobs than people might realize.”
“I am neither a Republican nor Democrat. I am a registered independent because I find that I cast my votes not on the basis of party loyalty but on the issues of the moment and my assessment of the candidates.”
Walter Cronkite anchored the top-rated news broadcast from 1967 to 1981 when the mustached newsman retired. This is the April 4, 1968 title card for the “CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite,” the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.
“I regret that, in our attempt to establish some standards, we didn’t make them stick. We couldn’t find a way to pass them on to another generation, really.”
“I think that being liberal, in the true sense, is being non-doctrinaire, non-dogmatic, non-committed to a cause but examining each case on its merits. Being left of center is another thing; it’s a political position. I think most newspapermen by definition have to be liberal. If they’re not liberal, by my definition of it, then they can hardly be good newspapermen. If they’re preordained dogmatists for a cause, then they can’t be very good journalists.”
“If that is what makes us liberals, so be it, just as long as in reporting the news we adhere to the first ideals of good journalism – that news reports must be fair, accurate and unbiased.”
“It is not the reporter’s job to be a patriot or to presume to determine where patriotism lies. His job is to relate the facts.”
“It is a seldom proffered argument as to the advantages of a free press that it has a major function in keeping the government itself informed as to what the government is doing.”
Breaking news of the assassination of President Kennedy on Friday, November 22, 1963. CBS was ten minutes into its live broadcast of the soap opera As the World Turns when a “CBS News Bulletin” bumper slide abruptly broke into the broadcast at 1:40 pm, ten minutes after the assassination took place in Dallas. Over the slide, Cronkite began reading what would be the first of three audio-only bulletins that were filed in the next twenty minutes: “Here is a bulletin from CBS News. In Dallas, Texas, three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s motorcade in downtown Dallas. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been seriously wounded by this shooting.”
Walter Cronkite in Vietnam to cover the Tet Offensive, 1968.
Vietnam. Walter Cronkite and a CBS Camera crew use a jeep for a dolly during an interview with the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, during the Battle of Hue City.
Walter Cronkite was so known for his extensive coverage of the U.S. space program. Cronkite gets a taste for moon walking at the reduced gravity simulator at NASA’s Langley Research Center in August, 1968.
Walter Cronkite reporting on television a debate during the 1976 presidential election.
“The ethic of the journalist is to recognize one’s prejudices, biases, and avoid getting them into print.”
“I don’t think people ought to believe only one news medium. They ought to read and they ought to go to opinion journals and all the rest of it. I think it’s terribly important that this be taught in the public schools, because otherwise, we’re gonna get to a situation because of economic pressures and other things where television’s all you’ve got left. And that would be disastrous. We can’t cover the news in a half-hour evening event. That’s ridiculous.”
“Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.”
Walter Cronkite interviews President John F. Kennedy on Labor Day, September 2, 1963 in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. (Mrs. Cronkite is in the foreground). Cronkite challenged the president about the “hot war” in Vietnam which already “seems to parallel other famous debacles.” Kennedy, citing 47 personnel killed in Vietnam, agreed that the situation was “very ominous.” Kennedy went on to say that calls to withdraw from Vietnam were “wholly wrong.” They appeared on a special program of the CBS Evening News. They also discussed civil rights, including the August 1963 march on Washington, school integration, and the movement’s potential impact on Kennedy’s re-election chances. Kennedy was asked what he believed were the major issues of the 1964 presidential election campaign. Kennedy replied that they were national security, education, and jobs, The president specifically cited chronic unemployment that he believed was addressed by his tax cut and various job training programs. The Test Ban Treaty Kennedy signed in August 1963 and confirmed a few weeks later in the U.S. Senate was also discussed.
Journalists pose with President Nixon on February 28, 1972, including Walter Cronkite in Shanghai, China.
Cronkite with Nixon in China. (Same image as above.)
Journalists Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid, and Bob Schieffer interviewing President Gerald R. Ford in the Blue Room of the White House on April 21, 1975 for CBS News.
Three days before Walter Cronkite’s retirement, 65-year-old Cronkite greets 70-year-old President Ronald Reagan on March 3, 1981 for an interview at the White House. Reagan died in 2004 and Cronkite in 2009.
“Putting it as strongly as I can, the failure to give free airtime for our political campaigns endangers our democracy.”
“We cannot defer this responsibility to posterity. Time will not wait.”
Walter Cronkite congratulates graduates via video on May 11, 2007 during the Sporing convocation at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication (Grady Memorial Auditorium). Walter Cronkite (November 4, 1916, Saint Joseph, MO – July 17, 2009, Manhattan, New York City).
Photograph credits: Cronkite at NASM in 2004 -This photograph is in the public domainin the United States because it was solely created by NASA. NASA copyright policy states that “NASA material is not protected by copyright unless noted”. Cronkite in 1943- This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer/employee of the U.S. Government as part of official duties under terms of Title 17 Chapter 1 Section 105 of the US Code. Cronkite April 4, 1968 news card-fair use- CBS News Bulletin card-This image consists only of simple geometric shapes or text. It does not meet the threshold of Originalityneeded for copyright protection, and is therefore in the public domain. Cronkite in Vietnam, February 20, 1968-Public Domain-NARA via WikiCommons. This image or file is in the public domain because it contains materials that originally came from the U.S. Marine Corps. Cronkite Vietnam interview-Public Domain- Department of Defense. Department of the Navy. U.S. Marine Corps. National Archives at College Park. Moon Walking-Public Domain-NASA.gov. Cronkite on television in 1976-This work is from the U.S. News & World Reportcollection at the Library of Congress. According to the library, there are no known copyright restrictions on the use of this work. See WikiCommons. Kennedy and Cronkite- Public Domain-NARA record: 4538278) Nixon in China -Public Domain-NARA via WikiCommons. Ford and Cronkite-photographer Unknown- Gerald R. Ford White House Photographs (NARA: 1756311. Reagan and Cronkite-Public Domain- Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library, PD as official government record. “2007 Spring Convocation” by ASU_Cronkite is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 . Cronkite at helm-Public Domain- Senior Chief Photographer’s Mate Terry A. Cosgrove – http://www.navy.mil/navydata/navy_legacy_hr.asp?id=243
Released on July 4, 1966 The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100in August 1966 and stayed there for three consecutive weeks.1 “Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty, been down, isn’t it a pity, doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city. All around, people looking half dead, walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head…” In Chicago in 1966 Dr. King promised a summer of nonviolence but that didn’t stop a white Chicago policeman from shooting and killing a 21-year-old Puerto Rican on June 10, 1966 and sparking a riot of the victim’s neighbors who looted stores, torched squad cars and assaulted firefighters called out to quell the blazes. A month earlier Stokely Carmichael, elected by a razor-thin margin over John Lewis to lead the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, pronounced a new Black Power movement that ended that organization’s interracial efforts. While the Chicago Freedom Movement remained staunchly interracial King warned Daley on July 9, 1966 that the mayor’s aloofness towards fundamental improvements for African-Americans in Chicago could lead to more radical black groups making their own demands. Since black Chicagoans were, despite a fair housing ordinance, mostly restricted to the ghetto where landlords charged higher rents to a captive market, King’s allies believed open access to Chicago’s real estate market was necessary to tackle larger problems of slums, unemployment, and underprivileged schools.
1550 S. Hamlin on Chicago’s West Side, the redeveloped site where King and his family stayed during the Chicago Freedom Movement in 1966. Screenshot October 29, 2018.
Mathias “Paddy” Bauler who in 1955 famously quipped that “Chicago ain’t ready for a reform mayor”2 was still an active Northside Chicago alderman in 1966. To some Chicagoans, Bauler’s colorful quip should have been Mayor Daley’s prevailing opinion towards open housing. Yet in July and August 1966 King’s street marches into the white-only neighborhoods of Gage Park, Marquette Park and Chicago Lawn3 were intended to showcase the Chicago Freedom Movement’s reform message of open housing. Following a rally at Soldier Field on Sunday, July 10, 1966 where King spoke to thousands of supporters – including these words, “we will no longer sit idly by in agonizing deprivation and wait on others to provide our freedom,”4 – he led thousands on a march to City Hall. There King posted the Chicago Freedom Movement’s fourteen demands for a racially open city. The next day Daley met with King but this pair, who personally respected one another, floundered at an impasse. King was impatient for action but Daley was passive and noncommittal. Afterwards King made clear that these were 14 demands, not suggestions. From Daley’s viewpoint, King was a public relations disaster for Chicago because he was an outsider articulating simple solutions to complex and not always only local social problems. King indicated an inclination that it was time to march.
On July 14, 1966, three days after the Daley-King meeting, a drifter named Richard Speck tortured, raped, and murdered eight female student nurses from South Chicago Community Hospital on the south side of Chicago. Speck, born in an Illinois farm town in 1941, lived in Dallas for the last 15 years and, running from the law there, only arrived into Chicago in April 1966. In the pall of a July heatwave, the serial killer was on the loose in the city for three days – a police sketch plastered everywhere in newspapers and on TV – until he was arrested on July 17, 1966. These gruesome killings were called “The Crime of the Century” and added panic, gloom and a general fear to an already tense city.5 Two weeks later, on August 1, 1966, in Austin, Texas, Charles Whitman, shot 49 victims from the bell tower of the University of Texas, killing 17 – and brought the term “mass shooting” into the American popular discourse. These violent crimes precipitated ramped-up tension in Chicago and the nation in the hot summer of 1966. Already gripped by an escalating Vietnam War as well as a massive civil rights movement, women’s rights movement, youth counter-cultural movement, and even radical church reform in Vatican II, American society was swiftly and increasingly wrapped into a tight fist of revolutionary social change- and resistance to it only tended to exacerbate the possibility of what King called “social disaster.”
Speck’s horrendous crimes came in the same week when Chicago police shot and killed two black Chicagoans, including a pregnant 14-year-old girl, during riots on the predominantly black West Side that Daley blamed on King. King denied any such connection and told Daley that if it wasn’t for the Chicago Freedom Movement’s preaching nonviolence those riots would have mushroomed into another Watts. To King’s way of thinking these disturbances among a swath of the city’s population should serve as the clarion call to Daley to act boldly on behalf of the black community and begin to enact the 14 demands brought to him to make Chicago a racially open city.6 Instead Daley’s response was to mobilize 4,000 members of the National Guard to restore law and order. In the wake of the violence – with police brutality blamed by the police on the rioters- another meeting between Daley and King took place where they agreed to establish a citizen’s advisory committee on police and community relations; that grassroots workers go door to door in riot-affected areas to advise calm; and a new investment to build more swimming pools in black areas. King was unimpressed with what he considered Daley’s lackadaisical approach and local media mocked the mayor’s feeble plan.
For his part, King started “walking,” that is, organizing marches into the city’s white neighborhoods next to black ones to highlight the need for open housing. He also re-started talks with Chicago gang members to convince them to forsake violence and join his nonviolent racially integrated movement.7 Since Daley viewed Chicago as having more accomplishments than problems in the area of race relations and that, further, the Mayor publicly considered the outsider King to be a selfish agitator largely, many white residents of soon-to-be-marched-upon city neighborhoods assumed Daley would take their side. Yet Daley’s politics of law and order and incremental social change succeeded in alienating almost everyone, so that by the Chicago mayoral election in 1967 black voter support for Daley suddenly and, for the most part permanently, declined while white residents felt the fatal sting of being “betrayed”8 by the city powers that be, since at this stage, Daley did not stop the marches from going forward.
The first march was on Saturday, July 16, 1966 when a group of 120 demonstrators marched from Englewood into Marquette Park “for a picnic.” The next day, Sunday, July 17, 1966 about 200 marchers, taunted by neighborhood whites, held a prayer vigil outside a Gage Park church. Almost two weeks later, on Thursday, July 28, 1966, protesters began an all-night vigil at 63rd Street and Kedzie Avenue at a realty company that systematically discriminated against black buyers looking to move into Gage Park. The realtors had been reported to the Chicago Commission on Human Relations but nothing happened. White counter demonstrators appeared and with nightfall Chicago police struck a deal for the lawful open housing (or open occupancy) protesters to file into paddy wagons for safe escort back to the ghetto.
Chicago Police in Marquette Park on August 5, 1966. Their presence did not prevent severe rioting by white mobs that day.
On July 30, 1966 about 250 open housing protesters, furious about the recent night’s humiliation, looked to return to the same southwest side intersection. They were met by bottles and rocks thrown by whites so that the protesters retreated again east of Ashland Avenue into Englewood. When demonstrators marched out of Englewood again on July 31, 1966 more than 500 whites met them as the protesters crossed Ashland Avenue on 63rd Street. Armed with cherry bombs, rocks, bricks, and bottles, the surly mob grew to over 4,000 whites where they burned cars and injured around 50 open-occupancy protesters, including a first grade teacher hit by a projectile.
On August 2, 1966, Daley met with white homeowner groups from the southwest side. In addition for calling for law and order from blacks and whites, the mayor acknowledged the open housing protesters had a legal right to march. Daley, through an intermediary, sent King modest housing improvement and integration proposals which King rejected and Daley implemented anyway. Next Daley to an embattled King local black aldermen who opposed the Chicago Freedom Movement but carried more substantial housing and employment offers from City Hall. The city government hoped that King who was known to be looking for a way out of Chicago with a tangible victory might accept a negotiated pact and call an end to the campaign. With these serious talks going on between Daley and King, the late summer marches for open housing continued under an increasingly vicious white backlash.
White rioters encountering Chicago police at a Clark gas station in Marquette Park on August 5, 1966. A Confederate flag is on the right. Photo by Bernard Kleina.
Whites moving east on 63rd Street to confront marchers on the way to Marquette Park on August 5, 1966. The Clark gas station in the background is the site of the photos by Bernard Kleina.
The infrastructure of the former Clark gas station still exists today on 63rd street (July 2018). Screen shot dated October 29, 2018.
The old Clark gas station looking east on 63rd Street at Whipple. Screenshot October 29, 2018.
On Friday, August 5, 1966, Al Raby and Mahalia Jackson led a group of about 500 open occupancy protesters into Marquette Park in south Chicago Lawn. A white mob of over 10,000 had gathered there and verbally abused the marchers and then turned physically violent. King, who up to this point had not participated in these marches, arrived and joined the march on the north side of the park. It was here, between Francisco and Mozart Streets south of Marquette Road that Martin Luther King was struck in the head behind the right ear by a baseball-sized rock and felled to one knee.
The open housing marchers, angry and disgusted, made their way the short distance out of the park and towards 63rd and Kedzie where King dodged a knife thrown at him. The crowd began to shout “Kill him!” as well as other racially charged epithets and about 2,500 whites now started throwing bottles, burned cars, smashed bus windows and clashed with police for the next five hours.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s comments on that day’s violence entered the annals of civil rights and American history and marks a failing grade for Chicago: “I’ve been in many demonstrations across the south, but I can say I have never seen – even in Mississippi and Alabama – mobs as hostile and hate-filled as I’ve seen in Chicago. I think the people from Mississippi ought to come to Chicago to learn how to hate.”9
A permanent memorial to Dr. King and the Chicago Freedom Movement was erected in Marquette Park on August 5, 2016 for the 50th anniversary of the Marquette Park marches. The MLK Living Memorial at 67th Street and Kedzie Avenue includes a bench to contemplate about 300 tiles created by Chicagoans of all ages representing their understanding of “Home” and representations of a diverse community who continue to work to advance Dr. King’s vision of peace and justice.
The new MLK Living Memorial at 67th Street and Kedzie Avenue in Marquette Park
The MLK Living Memorial Marquette Park 2016.
Artists Sonja Henderson and John Pitman Weber pose in front of their MLK Memorial. Photograph by Linda Lutton.
In 1960 virtually no blacks – only 7 according to that year’s U.S. Census– lived among a white population of 100,000 in Gage Park/Chicago Lawn/Marquette Park areas – cited in American Pharoah: Mayor Richard J. Daley His Battle for Chicago and the Nation, Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor, Little Brown and Company, New York, 2000, p. 392. Fifty years after the Marquette Park march in 2016, the surrounding neighborhood of Chicago Lawn is a very different place from the all-white enclave King encountered. Whites now account for just 4.5 percent of the neighborhood’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. African-Americans make up 49 percent and Hispanics 45 percent –http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/mitchell-rev-martin-luther-king-still-bringing-us-together/- retrieved August 5, 2016.
Chicago public school teacher Al Raby (left) of the CCCO and Edwin “Bill” Berry (right) of the Chicago Urban League inspect the open-housing agreement reached in Chicago in late August 1966 with Ross Beatty (center) of the Chicago Real Estate Board. It contained mostly broad volunteer promises for modest integration in all Chicago neighborhoods by the end of 1967, a mayoral election year. At an August 26, 1966 meeting at a downtown hotel with King and Daley both present — and after city faith leaders promised their resolute support of the agreement — Ross Beatty only tepidly endorsed the plan: “Well,” he confessed, “we’ll do all we can, but I don’t know how I can do it.”
By John Walsh – 4:00 pm Chicago time, April 27, 2016.
Despite the corporate media’s unabashed favoritism for Hillary Clinton when reporting the news – it reminds me of the Cold War days when Americans were told about the partisan propaganda at Pravda (a frightening journalistic prospect should it ever arrive in some form to America I always believed) – the delegate count from last night’s five primaries (4 closed and 1 hybrid) comes down to this: a net gain of 52 PLEDGED delegates for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders– or around 2% of the total needed to reach the magic number of 2383 to become the Democratic presidential nominee.
Today Bernie Sanders has 1299 PLEDGED delegates and Hillary Clinton has 1632 PLEDGED delegates. Neither candidate can likely reach 2383 – that is, not without the party hacks called SUPERdelegates of which Clinton today has 519 and Sanders has 39. It should be well known that the Democratic Party’s nominating process as it is presently constituted is a corrupt system, rigged, drunk with big money and worship of the status quo, and that its special category SUPERdelegates have flocked and will likely stay flocked to Clinton because they are birds of a feather. The SUPERdelegates’ reasons to support Clinton transcend her qualifications and whether or not she can win these primaries outright under present rules deemed fair. In Connecticut’s closed primary last night, for instance, Clinton won a net gain of 2 PLEDGED delegates over Sanders based on the people’s vote in that contest but she also received an additional 15 SUPERdelegates there (Bernie picked up zero in the state). In Connecticut Hillary won over 170,000 votes to gain 27 PLEDGED delegates and Sanders won over 153,000 votes to gain 25 PLEDGED delegates – or about 6,300 voters per delegate. Yet Clinton picked up those additional 15 SUPERdelegates cast by 15 fellow Americans whose vote, in this case, has a power equivalent to a bloc of 95,000 ordinary Connecticut voters and, further, basically ginned up the Clinton vote by almost 50%. This sort of election process doesn’t take seriously the enshrined “one man, one vote” rule but is a hybrid of the ordinary voter and a handful of royalty voters who can beknight a candidate and the happy few in the voter pool who agree with them. This Clinton delegate lead and the thought police at the corporate media reporting that she is the “presumptive nominee” is part chimera as it is based very much on the SUPERdelegate regime for which no other quality is required except to be somehow part of an establishment clique. Democratic Party – my foot.
Bernie Sanders in West Virginia where he has a 30-point lead in ordinary voter polls over Hillary Clinton for the May 10, 2016 primary. Yet they have so far split the number of pledged SUPERdelegates though no votes have been counted.
Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia where on April 26, 2016 she won in that state’s primary by 20% in the popular vote over Sanders but won by 1,800% in the SUPERdelegates vote.
It may be expected that in states where Hillary won the popular vote and most of the PLEDGED delegates that she might pick up more of these brazen SUPERdelegates. Yet this was not the case in 2016 in New Hampshire, Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Maine, “Dems Abroad,” Michigan, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island. In these 12 states (and one constituency) it was Bernie Sanders who won the popular vote and the most PLEDGED delegates but Clinton who picked up all or most of the SUPERdelegates – an additional 77 of them in fact. In a nomination process for president based on delegate count –which delegates? – this kind of system appears (is) “rigged.” Voting results in other states exacerbates this perception of politburo-like favoritism inherent in the DNC and its SUPERdelegate regime – namely, that when Clinton won the popular vote and most PLEDGED delegates she also still gained all or most of the SUPERdelegates. What gives, America?
In all of last night’s five primary states, Clinton picked up 63 SUPERdelegates and Bernie picked up one (in Maryland, a state he lost). Bernie won over 1.1 million votes for his one SUPERdelegate and Clinton won about 27,000 votes for each of hers. SUPERdelegates are where the action is! If this is the manner in which the Dems nominate their party’s presidential candidate I may have to think twice about voting for that person in the general election. Unfortunately, it is likely some or all of these wildly unfair SUPERdelegates will facilitate the nomination of either Sanders or Clinton unless one of those candidates achieves the magic number of 2383 in PLEDGED delegates. This is a worthy goal which still remains possible – especially for Clinton.
There are 1209 PLEDGED delegates on the table in the final 14 contests and a much smaller indeterminate number of UNPLEDGED delegates (about 195). Based on PLEDGED delegates, Hillary would need to win from this point onward 751 of them (62%) and Sanders 1084 of them (89%) – high, and, impossibly high electoral numbers for each – in order to secure 2383 in PLEDGED delegates. Hillary’s challenge to go into the convention with enough PLEDGED delegates has an outside hope of being realistically achievable but it remains likely she will need SUPERdelegates to put her over the top as the party’s standard bearer. So, if an incomplete slate of PLEDGED delegates is all that one needs, why not nominate Bernie? Under this arcane and untrustworthy convention system, Hillary appears to hold most of the political insider cards. Sanders can fight on and hope to bargain for platform items but the Clinton people will be looking over his shoulder to his voters. How many of Bernie’s voters do they need to win the general election in November? From that point, deals will be crafted. If Clintonites can peel off enough Bernie voters outright with corporate media-driven stories about party unity and fear mongering over Donald Trump, then the Clinton-Sanders deal may be weaker. But if enough Bernie supporters getting on board is problematic –if they clamor for Sanders to be the nominee or on the ticket, or that their political beliefs be incorporated into the 2016 Democratic Party platform on campaign finance reform, breaking up the big banks, free public university education, universal medical insurance, a fracking ban, a $15 minimum wage, etc.– all positions spurned by Clinton and her voters – then things could get hugely interesting in Philadelphia in July.
By the way, for each of the 14 upcoming primary contests – from Indiana on May 3 to Washington, D.C. on June 14 – Clinton already has 106 SUPERdelegates committed to her candidacy (Bernie has 8). Not a single vote by the people has been counted in any of those places. It’s rigged. Welcome to the party.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King installed themselves into a West Side apartment in a low-income Chicago neighborhood on January 26, 1966. From the outset the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) and their allies were political outsiders in Chicago and mainly sought an amenable agreement with the established political powers in a city embodied by its mayor since 1955, Richard J. Daley. In the middle of another brutal Chicago winter King humbly began his campaign by stating he was looking to study the city’s social conditions. Yet King wanted to know which nonviolent campaign tactics – whether street marches, voter registration drives, rallies, fund raisers, or something else – would be effective to progress the objectives of job creation, open housing, educational opportunity for African-Americans and, by summer of 1966, slum clean-up and a citizen’s review board for police brutality and misconduct.
“Baby Scratch My Back” written and performed by “swamp blues” singer Slim Harpo (1924-1970) was a number one hit playing on the radio in 1966.
As King spoke about a “closed society” in Chicago, the elected political power structure out of the Mayor’s office maintained an omnipotent grip on city services while a vicious circle of poverty in some black neighborhoods, complicated by those citizens’ inability to live in certain of Daley’s “city of neighborhoods,” was permitted to exist. King’s outsider status – which at first was seen as a useful factor among Chicago’s civil rights activists – also worked to undermine King’s effectiveness in Chicago throughout 1966. Unfamiliar with Chicago’s vast size and crazy-quilt demographics, opposition to King’s efforts didn’t always fall neatly along racial lines. Whether white or black, resentment of the Atlanta-based minister in Chicago usually always came from his being viewed as an interloper and power rival.
Support from Chicago black ministers, a natural political base for King in 1966, was frequently blunted by intimidating reminders from City Hall that a certain church would have its building or fire code inspection forthcoming. Moreover, big cities across the nation, including Chicago, were to receive a huge infusion of funds out of Washington including part of a new $2.3 billion anti-slum program (about 17 billion in 2015 dollars) which was a component of a panoply of programs earmarked for Johnson’s Great Society. King was politely pressured to forego his futile efforts of meetings and trash drives so to allow the Chicago mayor to get down to the serious work of eliminating city slums by, as Daley announced, no later than the end of 1967. Daley’s home-court advantage and enormous financial support from the U.S. president and a Democratic Congress gave Dr. King’s limited civil rights operation among the poor and dispossessed an appearance of meddling, if not outright superfluity. Tactically Daley tried to match King’s organizational efforts on every front often by simply buying off King’s allies. When King filled the International Amphitheatre on Halsted Street on March 12, 1966 with 12,000 black celebrities and supporters, Daley led 70,000 marchers (and 350,000 spectators) in the 1966 St. Patrick’s Day parade on State Street.
After the SCLC took a supra-legal action to seize a dilapidated tenement building, Daley limited his response and left King to deal with the consequent legal and public relations headaches. King was not naïve about his own position, but did not want the Chicago Freedom Movement to become politicized. That Daley had a mayoral primary in February 1967 (he ran unopposed) for a fourth four-year term led some King allies in Chicago to lobby for a candidate to coalesce around the movement and run against him. But King refused the idea. Still, Daley’s ongoing work in 1966 to limit King’s efforts in Chicago tamped down King’s initial hope that this Irish-American big city northern mayor would risk or trade his political power for the 1964 Nobel peace prize winner’s agenda for social justice and civil rights for African-Americans. Daley’s selective embrace of King never offset the mayor’s strategy to restrain the civil rights leader’s efficacy in Chicago and link that individual restraint to curbing broad voter acrimony towards the Daley administration.
Notwithstanding Daley’s defensive efforts, King did not lose sight of his message of improved housing, education and economic development for African-Americans in Chicago. One SCLC initiative that scored quick success was a project started in February 1966 headed by Rev. Jesse Jackson called Operation Breadbasket (later renamed Operation PUSH). Within months there were several hundred new black hires in Chicago-area businesses by way of this action.
King’s prolonged presence in Chicago in 1966 could take credit for prompting Mayor Daley to establish new city programs and hold various “summits” with clergy, labor and business leaders to combat poverty and racism in the city. In August 1966, Daley, with the support of the Chicago Freedom Movement, accepted the departure of public schools Chief Benjamin Willis and appointment of James F. Redmond, a racial progressive even though Daley overlooked two black candidates and considered only white men for the post. One thing Dr. King considered a key effort to improve African-American lives in the ghetto was to transform gang members into nonviolent civil rights activists. But a gunfight at a SCLC meeting in May 1966 between Blackstone Rangers and East Side Disciples seemed to end the official engagement. Meanwhile, Richard J. Daley continued his downtown redevelopment and in March 1966 announced a $200 million package for mass transit making sure the Civic Federation, a good government watchdog group, was there to endorse it. In addition to Loop and North Michigan Avenue redevelopment Daley dedicated in May 1966 the Civic Center, soon to be graced by an iconic Picasso sculpture the very next year. Now the long, hot days of a Chicago summer were at the doorstep and many wondered to what extent Dr. King’s plans in 1966 might add to the heat.
SOURCES: Martin Luther King, Jr. with profiles of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, Lori Meek Schuldt, World Book, Inc., 2007; American Pharaoh, Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation, Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor, Little, Brown and Company, 2000.On Hamlin trusteeship -http://www.oxfordaasc.com/public/features/archive/0110/photo_essay.jsp?page=6.
The SCLC’s (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) first nonviolent civil rights campaign in the North started in Chicago on January 5, 1966 – 50 years ago this month. The multi-pronged campaign was Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s first major effort outside the South and the first following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. King’s coming to Chicago was greatly influenced by the Watts riots in August 1965 where those deadly six days demonstrated to King and the nation the high cost in human lives and property associated with deep discontentment in the black community over isolating and chronic high unemployment, substandard housing, and inadequate schools. King’s consideration to come to Chicago in 1966 was further energized by national issues activated by a local focus: in this case, King’s broad support for recent Federal complaints brought by the Chicago CCCO (Coordinating Council of Community Organizations) alleging segregation in the Chicago public schools. As there was a huge new Federal aid package for those public schools in the nation which desegregated by the start of the 1965-1966 school year, a charge of segregation in the north and in the nation’s second largest city was unexpected, provocative, and dangerous to the natural progression of the status quo.
Led by former school teacher Albert Raby (on KIng’s left), the CCCO was a coalition of a number of disparate and sometimes contentious groups including the local branches of CORE, the Catholic Interracial Council, and the Urban League, among others. Here, King and Raby meet the Chicago press along with SCLC leader Bayard Rustin (on King’s right).
The status quo in Chicago, at least in terms of its politics, was embodied in one man: Mayor Richard J. Daley. King’s intention to come to Chicago instead of to another big northern city was that he figured to find in Mayor Daley a powerful ally to his civil rights movement. Already Daley vocalized agreement in principle with King’s message of open housing and racial justice, but King’s potential challenge to any aspect of the mayor’s absolute political power never gained Daley’s sympathy or recognition. Many in Chicago’s local civil rights community, however, welcomed Dr. King’s presence in Chicago in 1966. Activists like Dick Gregory had marched on City Hall (and into Bridgeport to Daley’s home) dozens of times but to no avail in terms of tangible policy changes for blacks in a city where blacks constituted 25% of its population. Perhaps the efforts of Dr.King in Chicago could break the deadlock. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights had recently labeled Chicago “the most residentially segregated city in the nation” but Daley saw it differently. There was no legal segregation in Chicago and Daley believed it was simply a city of neighborhoods. He also felt that if government hand-outs were not mostly un-American that, by 1965, big Federal programs should not be administered from Washington but at the local, indeed, municipal, level.
1920’s flats, Bridgeport, Chicago, 2015.
Chicago slums, 1950.
While Daley’s home rule views appealed to some Chicagoans, other Chicago neighborhoods remained in flux. There had been a longstanding mistrust, for instance, between poor West Side residents – most of whom were black concentrated, by the mid 1960’s, into a vast ghetto – and the largely white Chicago police and fire departments. Yet street riots in West Garfield Park in the summer of 1965 curiously produced the integration of 40 of 132 firehouses where integration had been resisted for over ten years. The City of Chicago’s contrariness to aspects of President Johnson’s Great Society carried into the office of Chicago’s Education chief Benjamin C. Willis who in October 1965 defied federal mandates for the release of requested materials and blocked the use of new national achievement tests in city public schools. This led to Chicago being denied their part of the massive $1.3 billion federal aid to schools program.
President Lyndon B. Johnson (r.) meets with Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley in the White House, April 21, 1966, in a photograph by Yoichi Okamoto (1915-1985).
Yet the overall strong Mayor Daley-President Johnson alliance in late 1965 saw that money restored within the week – and the federal official who had cited Daley’s public schools for contempt of Federal segregation mandates swiftly demoted. It was into this political hothouse that Dr. King decided to build a civil rights campaign for open housing, jobs, and educational opportunity for African-Americans which in October 1965 Daley announced he welcomed with open arms. At the same time Daley was mobilizing black and other elected officials in Chicago to establish their own community action programs to sideline or co-opt any of King’s anticipated civil rights efforts which came to be called the “Chicago Freedom Movement.”
Tina Allen, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 2004, 1219 West 76th Street, Chicago. Sculptor and painter Tina Allen (1950-2008) created a number of monumental sculptures of prominent blacks, including labor leader A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979), abolitionist Sojourner Truth (d. 1883), author Alex Haley (1921-1992), South African President Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) and life-size sculptures of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the University of Texas at Austin and in the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza in North Las Vegas. Allen spent her early years in the West Indies and was a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in New York and the University of South Alabama, and did advanced studies at Pratt Institute and in Venice, Italy. She worked in Los Angeles until her death. Of her sculptures she stated during a 2003 interview, “I’m looking at myself as speaking about the heart and soul of a people, and making sure they’re not forgotten, making sure they don’t feel ignored.”
In January of 1966, Martin Luther King, Jr., arrives into the tenement apartment on the West Side to begin the Chicago Campaign. The nine-month campaign gave birth to beginning to bring before the nation its widespread issues of poverty and racial injustice. As King mounted these steps into his cold, rundown set of rooms, he was equally walking into the complex politics, problems and hurdles associated with a big northern city whose Democratic mayor, Richard J. Daley, was also known as The Boss.
Martin Luther King, Jr., Baltimore, Maryland, October 31, 1964.
By John P. Walsh updated February 14, 2018: Parkland high school shooting — at least 17 killed, suspect in custody, Florida sheriff says; updated October 2, 2015; Originally posted December 6, 2014.
On a typical day in the United States, not all firearms (a.k.a. guns) are used for “hunting,” “sport” or to “protect one’s family” as stated by President Obama in his press conference on October 1, 2015 at the White House in the wake of the mass shooting at Umpqua College in Roseburg, Oregon.
At last report, 10 people were killed (including the gunman) and 7 others critically wounded in this latest school shooting, the 44th mass killing incident in the U.S. in 2015 so far.
Mass Shooting Statistics.
Since the tragic and disturbing Columbine massacre in 1999 (13 killed; 21 wounded) there have cropped up in intervals of about one per week mass shootings in the U.S., not all of them school shootings, that have gained intense media attention: the Fort Hood shooting (November 5, 2009), the Gabby Giffords shooting (January 8, 2011), the Aurora movie theater shooting (July 20, 2012),the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting (Aug. 6, 2012), the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting (Dec. 14, 2012), the Navy Yard shooting (Sept. 16, 2013), the Kansas Jewish Community Center shooting (April 14, 2014), the Charleston Church shooting (June 18, 2015), the Chattanooga recruiting center shooting (July 16, 2015) and now the Roseburg community college shooting.
A 2013 report cited 547 lives were taken between 1983 and 2012 in 78 public mass shootings. From 2013 into 2015 there were an additional 142 mass shootings (25 of them suicides or attempted suicides) in schools.
Everyday in America guns are used to kill about 80 people and wound 300 more. For accidental gun shootings, 3 people die and another 30 are wounded everyday.
In the wake of this carnage, the mainstream media coverage felt a bit different this time — almost as if this kind of thing could have been happening for the first time — or that they were somehow having to start over in their approach.
Reporters seemed to embody a deeper scrutiny of, or despair at, this latest school massacre only four weeks since the murder by gunfire of TV reporter 24-year-old Alison Parker and TV cameraman 27-year-old Adam Ward In Virginia.
Popular support for “Gun Control”?
A Pew Research Center study released on August 13, 2015, shows a large majority of Americans in support of several specific gun policy proposals: ˙79% favor laws to prevent people with mental illness from purchasing guns. ˙70% support the creation of a federal database to track all gun sales. ˙57% support a ban on assault-style weapons. ˙85% of Americans favor expanded background checks (88% of Democrats and 79% of Republicans).
President Obama hinted in his press conference at another finding in the August Pew Research study when he said, “I would particularly ask America’s gun owners — who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt, for sport, for protecting their families — to think about whether your views are properly being represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.”
His comment was a not-too-subtle reference to the National Rifle Association (NRA) which the Pew Study finds the public has some shifting opinions about.
While mass shooting crimes are, statistically, a snippet of America’s real field of action for gun violence, they are an especially destructive form in itself and its repercussions for the wider community. In addition to a national discussion about the mind or “profile” of a mass murderer (usually devolving into mental health concerns and/or ignorance about a reliable profile), the impact on the local or national community is less explored.
At his press conference, President Obama predicted a routine counter-punch to his gun control comments and it came swiftly. Reported by media outlets including WGN Chicago as a top story, gun-rights advocate Mike Huckabee stated the president was wrong for trying to “exploit” the Oregon shooting and that another mass killing should have no serious effect on the public debate about gun ownership in the U.S.
Yet impacts of a mass shooting are never as simple as its politics. Deleterious effects from gun violence extend to the victims and their families, and into the wider community.
Based on the level of shock associated with shootings, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are the long-lasting psychological consequences of all those directly experiencing or witnessing any part of a mass shooting. This especially pertains to children.
Active Shooter Drills.
Even extremely realistic school-shooting simulations known as “active-shooter” drills staged by local law enforcement agencies using school grounds, staff and students as actors are censured as counterproductive by psychologists and security specialists. Although the best way to help first responders prepare for gun-related violence on campus, the mere simulation of gun violence causes psychological distress among students and their families and work to make death tolls worse.
A student actor participating in the extremely realistic “active shooter drills” staged by law enforcement on campus grounds around the nation. Advocates say it helps first responders better prepare; critics say that it may actually make death tolls worse.
Gun crime: homicides, suicides, and mass shootings.
In 2011, 68% of homicides in the U.S. were gun crimes, even though these and all other crimes have dropped by almost 40% since 1993. Americans, however, continue to view gun crime as a pervasive and even worsening problem.
In 2011, 11,068 people died in gun homicides in the U.S. That number reflects a steep decline in gun homicides since the 1980’s. Yet statistics support the conclusion that more guns and access to them results in more gun violence, including murder crimes.
Media coverage of gun homicides is found mainly in densely-populated urban areas where there is, presumably, a higher concentration of guns. Mass shootings, however, frequently occur in rural or suburban settings.
Does gun access lead to more suicides?
The most annual gun deaths in the U.S. are neither homicides, mass shootings or accidents. They are suicides.
In 2011, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 19,990 people died by suicide with a firearm. Those yearly numbers are consistent at least since the 1990’s.
Does gun access lead to more suicides? That gun suicides are less common in states where gun ownership requires criminal and mental illness background checks point to that link.
It is obvious that by having access to a gun, the risk of having an accident increases -– but is that true for homicide and suicide?
Suicide attempts by guns are almost always fatal while suicide attempts using other methods result in death about 6% of the time. That data confirms that a firearm’s effectiveness as a lethal weapon is undeniable. It precludes the desperate person any second thoughts.
Males arrested for 75% of all crimes.
Arrest statistics make clear that it is not the criminal’s age or race but gender that the law-abiding citizen should fear. Males are arrested for 75% of all crimes. They are criminally adept in all categories including: ˙violent crime. ˙property crime. ˙assault.
Access to guns aids his criminal facility.
Guns and domestic abuse.
For example, in a survey of battered women nearly 72% reported that guns had been used against them and to threaten to kill them.
For women who are abused (and not killed) 16% live in homes with a gun.
Abused women that were killed, about 50% lived in a home with a gun.
Statistics suggest that access to a gun is a risk factor for homicide in abusive relationships. This situation is beginning to be taken up by law enforcement in police interviews with battered women.
Mass shootings are a tiny percentage of all gun homicide. Further, the frequency and impact of mass shootings has not increased in the last 35 years at least.
Should focus be on the mentally ill to reduce most gun crime?
To focus public safety on the mentally ill in reaction to these horrific gun crimes is likely to produce small effect on their recurrence.
Several studies have shown that the mentally ill require good health care, though its funding is relatively scarce. During the Great Recession of 2008, budget cuts for mental health amounted to almost $2 billion. Despite the lack of resources and high profile political and media focus, the mentally ill are responsible for only about 5% of all crimes and even less for those involving guns.
Each week 30% of all gun deaths in the U.S. are children.
Drug and alcohol abusers engage in violent acts seven times more than the mentally ill. Funding for substance abuse programs should be even more important to gun safety advocates based on those statistics. The link between gun violence and domestic batterers is far greater with the mentally ill. Of those 80 people killed by guns in a typical week in the U.S., 30% are children. After non-gun accidents, gun shootings are the leading cause of death of children in the U.S.
Annual U.S. gun sales in billions of dollars.
In 2009 there existed an estimated 310 million civilian guns (handguns, rifles, shotguns) in the U.S. and 2012 sales added $6 billion more.
Increased buying has hiked up privately-owned firearms by about 40% since 1994 when there were 192 million guns.
The exact number of concentrations of firearms in the U.S. is unknown. About 50% of Americans report at least one gun in the home. Gun ownership in the U.S. is heavily skewed to older white men.
The U.S. has more guns per capita than any land mass in the world. Poor countries in Central America, for example, record higher gun homicide rates than in the U.S.. But among developed nations, no country has more guns per person in private hands– nor a higher gun homicide rate– than in the United States.
The gun industry is prospering today. To paraphrase Charles Erwin Wilson, the Defense Secretary under President Eisenhower: “What is good for Sturm, Ruger & Co. is good for the nation.” There is some truth to it.
In 2012, the gun industry added $31.6 billion to the U.S. economy due to job creation and new sales taxes. The gun industry employs about 98,750 workers and 111,000 more workers as suppliers and retailers, such as Walmart.
While recreational use seems to be driving record sales, there is a darker side to the proliferation of gun ownership. As one gun advocate’s recent proclamation alludes– that “the (gun) industry has entered a golden era, a renaissance of gun ownership that transcends a dedicated segment of Americans who consider firearms a natural part of their lives”– it often equally ends those natural lives sooner than nature intends.
Despite guns crimes, the prospect for meaningful gun control in the U.S. is bleak.
Fewer than half of Americans think that gun laws should be stricter. Another half believes they are already too strict or just about right.
In a culture where money defines free speech and guns rights are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution’s second amendment, the prosperous gun industry and its supporters which is no less than half of the U.S. population will not be surrendering its arms soon.
Gun safety measures may have a more receptive audience than attempts at gun control. These include background checks.
The mindset of some gun-rights advocates may work to divide gun owners’ attitudes about select gun control measures. That may be part of President Obama’s comments for law-abiding gun owners to reflect on “the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.”
A controversial example of a mindset is the so-called NRA embrace of “insurrectionist ideology.” This asserts that the intent of the second amendment is to permit American citizens to shoot and kill federal agents and law enforcement officers in the event that they believe those agents are attempting to facilitate or impose some form of government tyranny.
Regarding the NRA specifically, Americans are divided: ˙40% think the organization is too influential over gun laws. ˙52% say it has too little or the right amount of influence.
While opinions on the NRA are entrenched and polarized, there is slight but significant movement on another issue pertaining to guns.
In 2015 Americans did an about face on the question as to whether it was more important to control gun ownership (50%) or protect the right of Americans to own guns (47%). ˙57% of whites favor gun rights over gun control. ˙75% of blacks favor gun control over gun rights. ˙72% of Hispanics favor gun control over gun rights.
Changing demographics and marginally shifting American opinion on gun control may be the sliver of hope President Obama perceived when he said in his October 1 news conference: “It will require that the American people, individually, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican or an independent, when you decide to vote for somebody, are making a determination as to whether this cause of continuing death for innocent people should be a relevant factor in your decision. If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.”
While polls find that over 60% of the public thinks background checks are a good idea, neither the gun industry nor gun owners want the extra burden. In an almost $32 billion-a-year industry ($6 billion in sales), background checks would be a major government intrusion.
As long as the number of gun fatalities is status quo, there likely will be no new impetus for gun control. In places like Arizona, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Michigan, Nevada and Oregon, the rate of gun deaths has exceeded traffic fatalities and they are on par with each other in Ohio and Pennsylvania. It is the choice of individuals and society–50% of which are gun owners and 95% of which own cars -–as to whether around 30,000 fatalities for each category of combustibles is a fair and acceptable human cost for their unbridled use.
Even if, as Russ Thurman writes, “Gun ownership has gone mainstream…It’s the fun factor of firearms that has been restored to the culture,” this cannot be the responsible gun owner’s sole matter of importance when discussing this uniquely American issue.