Notes from the Now

Posts Tagged ‘martin_luther_king_jr’

Unsolicited Recommendations – January 2015

In Books, Chicago, Education, Events, Film, literature, music, Technology, University of Chicago on February 8, 2015 at 9:30 am

Randomly:

App –  Microsoft’s Outlook App for the iPhone is great (so far) for those of us who have to use exchange for our work-lives.  I get that it’s a rebrand of some technology that Microsoft bought, but from my point of view I’m less concerned about the app’s origin and mostly concerned w/ functionality.

Book – I didn’t read much in January, but I did enjoy* (with the caveat that “enjoy” is constrained to the genre, and the rules of the genre, thus a business book is always just an insight or two wrapped in a litany of stories that are an odd mix of poor decisions or common sense) Scaling Excellence:  Getting to more without settling for less.

Graphic Novel – Rob Rodi’s “Thor & Loki:  Blood Brothers” was a fun read.

Album –  I’m of the (advanced) age where “Sukierae” by Tweedy sounds good to me.

Documentary –  Two documentaries from Netflix that I enjoyed in January were: “Something Ventured” on American Venture Capitalism and the 3-D printing documentary “Print the Legend

Film –  Selma!  Powerful.

Articles – I don’t (yet) have a good method of tracking the best articles I’ve read online, but from memory, I enjoyed:  Next City’s profile of Derek Douglas (who happens to be my boss at UChicago), everything about this Humans of New York profiling a school in Brooklyn story,  and John Lewis’s take on Selma and its attendant controversies.

TV – PBS’s “Shakespeare Uncovered” is good.  The King Lear episode might make you rethink how original “Empire” is.   Also,  Star Wars: Rebels manages to channel the spirit of Star Wars in an enjoyable way.

Events/Speakers – You should try to see Cornel West in person.  He’s very present in his surroundings and engaged with his audience.  Also, if there are more events surrounding the School Project in Chicago, you should go.  Passionately committed people trying to figure out how to make education work in chicago (particularly after the school closings).

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“Cornel West @ UChicago RMC (Feb 2015)”

In Books, Education, Events, History, photography, sociology, University of Chicago on February 2, 2015 at 7:11 am

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“Thumbprints for justice”

In Art, Education, photography, University of Chicago on January 12, 2015 at 6:55 pm

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My January 2010 in Books

In Books, History on February 2, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Haphazard Notes on Reading Books from January 2010

Books

A View from Above by Wilt Chamberlain

The Other Side of the River by Alex Kotlowitz

The Book of Basketball By Bill Simmons

The Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

Michelangelo & the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King

Notes from Gaza by Joe Sacco

Events

New Year’s Eve / Day

“Project Project”

Haiti Earthquake

MLK Day

USA Politics – MA Election / State of the Union

Apple Tablet (iPad)

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The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Speech that Inspired a Nation

In History, literature, sociology on October 18, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Early this year, I read Pauline Maier’s document history of the Declaration of Independence. It looked at the Declaration as the end point of a process and made some fascinating comparisons to other document sources, the conventions of the day, the competing interests in the revolutionary movement, as well as the genius of the primary author (and of the drafting committee). The declaration itself was a fascinating hodge-podge of old & new, (and ‘er, “something borrowed & something blue”) that has shown itself to be much more than the sum of its parts.

Drew Hansen’s “The Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Speech that Inspired a Nation” tries to do something very similar with Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (audio). Hansen puts the speech in its context at the March on Washington, in the Civil Rights Movement of the day, and in Dr. King’s career up to that point. Hansen illuminates which aspects of the speech were part of Dr. King’s usual ministerial stump speech, which parts were crafted specifically for the context of the March on Washington, and what was simply inspiration that came to him at the moment.  In so doing, Hansen gives us tremendous insight into the man, the moment, and the times.

As interesting as the textual analysis itself was, Hansen succeeds most in putting the speech as a whole in its context during it’s time, in its immediate aftermath, and talking about the process (of decontextualization) that made it iconic.

For as much of a watershed moment as it’s “remembered” as being, and in spite of the powerful impact that it had on those who were listening at the times, the speech was essentially forgotten for most of the interval before Dr. King’s assassination.  King himself had begun to lose his luster as moving the struggle for civil rights outside of the South brought him new detractors, and challenging the Vietnam war further complicated his relationship with the powers that be.  Sadly, it is his martyrdom that allowed for his entire career to be looked at beyond the individual news-cycles of the day, and helped society at large to appreciate the affection that African-Americans had for Dr. King.   It is only further after the fact that the speech was recalled and elevated to be a stand-in for the entirety of the Civil Rights Era.

It’s tough to read something like this without comparing the story to the happenings in the present day, and there’s a consistency in the style (and substance) of the attacks — all usually prefaced with “I’m not a racist” — made on Dr. King and President Obama that’s startling and ultimately disheartening.   Dr. King suffered through a line of attack that should be familiar to the modern American — from being accused of trying to enslave the white man, to being a socialist, being more orator than “doer”, winning an under-deserved Nobel Prize, taking attacks on personal conduct/history — and ultimately came to understand that while he had seen the promised land, that he was unlikely to get there with us.

Fortunately, one piece of his legacy is still making the journey to that promised land with us.