The story of the time Martin Luther King, Jr. spent in Chicago in 1966 is not well-known. While many think of King as leading a successful Civil Rights Movement that culminated in the “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963 and then the passing of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, his efforts in his last years faced more opposition. In Chicago, he unsuccessfully fought for an end to residential segregation. Read two longer posts about King’s time in Chicago:
–MLK in Chicago – Jan 17, 2011
–More on MLK in Chicago in 1966 – Aug 7, 2011
On this muggy Friday afternoon, Martin Luther King Jr. stepped out of the car that had ferried him to Marquette Park on Chicago’s Southwest Side to lead a march of about 700 people. The civil-rights leader and his supporters were in the white ethnic enclave to protest housing segregation. Thousands of jeering, taunting whites had gathered. The mood was ominous. One placard read: “King would look good with a knife in his back.”
As King marched, someone hurled a stone. It struck King on the head. Stunned, he fell to one knee. He stayed on the ground for several seconds. As he rose, aides and bodyguards surrounded him to protect him from the rocks, bottles and firecrackers that rained down on the demonstrators. King was one of 30 people who were injured; the disturbance resulted in 40 arrests. He later explained why he put himself at risk: “I have to do this–to expose myself–to bring this hate into the open.” He had done that before, but Chicago was different. “I have seen many demonstrations in the South, but I have never seen anything so hostile and so hateful as I’ve seen here today,” he said.
Not Chicago’s best day or season.