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.
It all started so quietly – in 1940:
Construction was completed on the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River in Selma. The bridge was named in honor of a man who led Alabama’s Ku Klux Klan as its “Grand Dragon of the Realm” and served in the U.S. Senate from 1897 to 1907. Continue reading
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued an executive order freeing the slaves in the Confederate States. Better known as the Emancipation Proclamation, this would be the last significant presidential order related to civil rights until Turnip Day in 1948, some 85 years later. Continue reading
As the MLK holiday approaches, I submit for your consideration the name of baseball maverick Bill Veeck. Those of you who are not big baseball fans (or too young) might not know of this colorful and visionary team owner who shook up the establishment with his stunts, fan promotions, exploding scoreboards and so much more. For good or bad, he is probably most remembered for sending 3-foot-7-inch Eddie Gaedel to the plate in a major league game (Eddie wore uniform number 1/8 and walked on 4 pitches). But here is another fact: Veeck marched (on his one good leg and a wooden one) in Martin Luther King’s funeral procession in Atlanta in 1968. This is a story of why that march was in character for this man and why he has a key role in the history arc covered by Kansas City’s Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Continue reading
January, 2002: Letter from Birmingham Jail Continue reading