This is my 20th annual message for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The first, in 2002, was an internal email to the lawyers and staff at the Polsinelli law firm. We had added the MLK holiday at the firm, and I sent out King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” as a reminder of why we celebrate the holiday. The annual message has grown in length and circulation over the years, and since 2016, it has been merged into my Hot Stove posts. All of the prior MLK messages are at this link on the Lonnie’s Jukebox website. Continue reading
I woke up Saturday morning with the intent to work on a Hot Stove about baseball’s long-delayed opening day. But there were early emails from Irv Blond, Diana Brewer and Bill Lochman. All with the same sad message – Congressman John Lewis had died Friday night.
New plan. Must write about John Lewis. Continue reading
I could stick to baseball. Or movies. Or music. But not right now.
I am going to talk about current events, but will set the stage with a Jackie Robinson story. In April and May of 1963, Martin Luther King was in Birmingham for civil rights demonstrations. Jackie Robinson was at home in New York and raising money to send to King to help finance the effort. After Robinson watched scenes of police brutality against non-violent protestors, he decided to go to Birmingham to visibly support King. Below, Robinson with King at the church rally where they spoke. Continue reading
Remember the Kansas City A’s? Charlie Finley? Campy Campaneris? Blue Moon Odom? Paul Lindblad? George Wallace? Bull Connor? Bear Bryant? They are in the cast of characters who inhabit my 19th annual message for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I hope you have the opportunity to read this (somewhat long) story as we get ready to celebrate the holiday.
[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]
Another year, another MLK Day. My 15th annual message is attached below. The ideas for this year’s message came from unexpected sources.
My beach read on a December vacation was the new Peter Guralnick biography Sam Phillips: The Man who Invented Rock ‘N’ Roll. I was intrigued by Guralnick’s conclusion that Phillips had three major passions: civil rights, baseball and the music form that became rock ‘n’ roll. Those of you who have read my musings on these three subjects will not be surprised that this makes Sam my soul brother.