I was three years old in 1968 when Mike Royko wrote a column about President Lyndon Johnson’s decision to not seek re-election. Years later, I read the column in Royko’s “One More Time” collection. Then as now, Mike’s words packed a punch.
The particulars of history aside — Dr. Martin Luther King would be martyred the same week and the West Side of Chicago was set to the torch — this particular Royko column, reprinted last week in the Sun-Times, is timely again. As the master himself wrote, “Unrestrained hatred has become the dominant emotion in this splintered country. Races hate, age groups hate, political extremes hate.”
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The sentiments afoot in the America of 1968 endure a half-century later.
Royko’s last sentence nails it: “We sure as hell aren’t the best people a president has ever had.”
Thank you for running Royko’s columns. I miss him, and I trust that his immortal soul rejoiced two summers ago when Kris Bryant retrieved the short-hopper and sent the ball across Cleveland’s infield to Anthony Rizzo for the final out in the bottom of the tenth inning.
Robin Lundy, Minneapolis
Jobs, not guns
An open letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and all the other Chicago mayoral aspirants regarding last weekend’s deadly violence:
In August of 1965, urban rioting broke out in Los Angeles. On the third day, with 30 people already dead, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood up to speak to a crowd amidst the smoldering embers. Immediately, someone shouted: “Get out of here, Dr. King! We don’t want you.” Another person shouted: “All we want is jobs. We get jobs, we don’t bother nobody…”
Dr. King heard that anguished plea. When he and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference came to Chicago months later to join our local efforts in the Chicago Freedom Movement, he brought with him a jobs program. Operation Breadbasket went on to open up significant numbers of jobs, put black products on shelves and secure service contracts, all worth more than $55 million annually from 1966-1971.
Today, 50 years later, guns have replaced jobs as the symbol of worth and dignity and power. Some 43 percent of young black men, age 20 to 24, are out of school and without a job. For Hispanics, it is 21 percent, and for whites 7 percent. The total of these so-called “disconnected” youth in Chicago is 40,000.
That is not a potential crisis; it is an immediate crisis. I urge all mayoral candidates to come up with a serious plan to bring industry, non-profits, city, state and federal governments together to create a Marshall Plan for jobs, with appropriate training, to meet this crisis. Whomever presents a viable, creative and fundable program will win this election.
Rev. Martin Deppe
Retired pastor and founding member of SCLC Operation Breadbasket
Where are the fathers?
One would think that with so much of Tuesday’s Sun-Times dedicated to the violence of this past weekend, someone might have addressed the elephant in the room: Fatherlessness. No solution can materialize until we do.
Marty Zielinski, Norwood Park