[When my law firm added Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday in 2002, I began an annual message within the firm about why we celebrate the holiday. The distribution was later expanded outside the firm, and since 2016 the message has been circulated as a Hot Stove post. Below, my 18th annual MLK message.]
One of the best ways to appreciate Martin Luther King Jr. Day is to visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City. Not just for the memorabilia collection – although that is well worth the trip. There is also a compelling civil rights lesson. As one walks through the baseball exhibits, there is a parallel timeline along the lower edge that places Negro Leagues history in context with civil rights milestones.
I felt the need today to take a break from my Hot Stove baseball posts.
Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King delivered his last speech: “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” The following day, he was assassinated.
This message is a combination of my annual MLK message (since 2002) and the newest Hot Stove post.
The theme for this message started percolating in 2015 when I saw an exhibit at the Kansas City Public Library. The exhibit honored Lucile Bluford as a civil rights activist and for her influential career as a journalist with Kansas City’s premier African American newspaper, the Call. The exhibit chronicled her “separate but equal” litigation with Missouri University when she was denied admission in 1939. Her case and others seeking fairness in education helped lay the foundation for Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Continue reading
Events have again caused a break in my normal Hot Stove posting. There is a baseball twist, but this post is mostly about how sometimes you just get lucky.
Wild About Harry Dinner: When I got the “save the date” card in the mail, I knew I had to be there. The Truman Library Institute was having its annual “Wild About Harry” dinner on April 20, and the theme was the Truman civil rights legacy. One of the honorees was Congressman John Lewis and the keynote speaker was Calvin Trillin. I had personal reasons to see both of them.
Since 2002, I have circulated an annual message to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This year, I am combining the message with a baseball story and sending it out to my Hot Stove subscribers plus friends who have received prior MLK posts. The holiday is two weeks away, but I need to send this out early because Rita and I leave Friday for a 10-day cruise out of LA. Rita will be traveling a little lighter – her appendix was removed last week. We will sail down the Baja and into the Sea of Cortez with the hope of seeing some whales and enjoying pleasant weather. [Note to those not on the Hot Stove list: If you are a baseball fan, especially of the nerd variety, and want some nostalgia and trivia on an irregular basis, you are welcome to sign up]
Kansas City Monarchs and the Major Leagues: Three years ago, my annual Martin Luther King message highlighted the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the role played by Bill Veeck in the integration of baseball. As noted then, the roster of the Kansas City Monarchs produced not only Jackie Robinson (Brooklyn, 1947), but also the first blacks to play for six other of the then-existing 16 teams. One of those was catcher Elston Howard who played for the Monarchs from 1948 to 1950. He went from the Monarchs to the Yankee farm system (including 1953 with the Kansas City Blues ) and was then promoted to the Yankee roster in 1955. This takes us to the story of Vic Power.
In this 15th annual message for the Martin Luther King holiday, my inspiration comes from having seen Hamilton, a truly revolutionary Broadway show, and from reading a new biography by Peter Guralnick: Sam Phillips, The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll.