|Modern America is nothing more than one big "Room 101"|
Of course, no one can fault Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand of Economics with being a bigoted racist, for this economic principle is color-blind; but no street named after Martin Luther King has yet to escape the ravaging of the highly Visible Black Hand of Economics, the ultimate leveler of private and commercial property values (and the most potent seller of bullet-proof plexiglass material for those businesses foolish enough to operate in the vicinity). [URBAN STREETS NAMED FOR MLK STILL STRUGGLE, Associated Press, 1-19-14]
A walk down the 6-mile city street named for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. yields plenty of images that would surely unsettle the civil rights leader: shuttered storefronts, open-air drug markets and a glut of pawn shops, quickie check-cashing providers and liquor stores.
The urban decay along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in St. Louis can be found in other major American cities, from Houston and Milwaukee to the nation's capital."It's a national problem," said Melvin White, a 46-year-old postal worker in St. Louis and founder of a 3-year-old nonprofit group that is trying to restore King's legacy on asphalt. "Dr. King would be turning over in his grave."
Nearly three decades into the observance of Monday's federal holiday, the continuing decline of the most visible symbols of King's work has White and others calling for a renewed commitment to the more than 900 streets nationwide named in the Atlanta native's honor. The effort centers in St. Louis, where the small nonprofit is working to reclaim MLK roadways as a source of pride and inspiration, not disappointment over a dream derailed.
The heavy snow that wiped out a week of school earlier this month is now claiming a new casualty in at least a dozen, mostly suburban school districts — Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Faced with a lost week because of snow and tight calendars the rest of the year, several school districts are using Monday’s holiday as a makeup day.
Avon, Center Grove, Greenfield, Lebanon, Plainfield, Westfield and Western Boone are among the school districts holding classes Monday. Only one public school district in Marion County — Franklin Township — will be in session Monday, in part because district officials wanted to squeeze in as many days o
f classes before ISTEP testing as possible.
“We felt every day was that important,” said Flora Reichanadter, superintendent of Franklin Township Schools.
In this snowy season, school districts have almost universally turned to Presidents Day for use as a makeup day. Less common, though, is the use of Martin Luther King Jr. Day — a national holiday shared by all, but of particular importance to many in the African-American community.
And doing so, some contend, sends a potentially troubling message.
The decision to work through the King holiday is one that Mark Russell, director of education, family services and housing at the Indianapolis Urban League, considers insensitive to the holiday and the struggle it represents.
“Given the history of this nation and the unique role that race and race relations has played from its inception, this one long-hard-fought-for holiday — I would hope there would be some recognition that this is not just another holiday,” he said.
The decision to treat Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a regular school day also has the potential to reinforce what some believe is a too-widely held and misguided notion; that it is only a holiday for the black community. Consider: Franklin Township is the only district in Marion County that is not observing the holiday. It also has the smallest black student population, 6 percent, of any public school district in the county.
Many of the suburban districts forgoing the holiday for the sake of making up a snow day have black student populations of less than 3 percent. Avon, with a 10 percent black student population, is an exception.
That is not to say that no predominantly white school districts are observing the holiday. Carmel, Greenwood, Eastern Hancock and Zionsville are among the districts that will take the day off.
But if there are differences in how predominantly white districts in Indiana are treating the holiday, there is no such debate whether to observe the holiday in districts with larger black-student populations.
Annie Roof, president of the IPS School Board, where more than half the student population is black, said she considers the subject taboo.
“It is an important day,” she said. “That is an important piece of history that a lot of these families have lived through and that we need to recognize.”
For those white Americans that care about the present trajectory of the nation, knowing it only leads to a future that looks frighteningly like that of modern Detroit, we live in a perpetual state of Orwell’s Room 101.
He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache. O cruel needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving beast. Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Martin Luther King.