Friday, April 4, 2008

40 years gone by

It's hard to believe that it's already been 40 years since Martin Luther King was killed. Some of King's friends remember the day here.

I was just a kid in the spring of 1968, but I remember it well. We were living in a top floor apartment near Palmer Square, just a few miles from riots and fires on West Madison. We could see the smoke and sometimes the flames, even from ground level standing on the parkway in the middle of Kedzie. I was too young to fully comprehend it, but I was scared. I remember how the clouds of smoke billowed into the sky, and how nervous my parents were.

The devastation of that year is still visible on the west side, from the loss of buildings destroyed during the rioting and from later losses of buildings that became dilapidated because the neighborhood had never recovered since the rioting. A vibrant business district was destroyed. Parts of that area are just beginning to come back to life with new construction.

The images on this site make a profound statement about the extreme devastation of the riot zone. King's death and the rioting changed the lives of countless people.

Many of the goals that King sought still elude us. We have a long way to go before we have conquered the cultural mountain that is racism. King's dream should live on in our collective words and non-violent actions towards unity and equality. That is my dream.

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