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Hijacking an American icon

Terry Garlock's picture

I am a white man with no civil rights credentials, but that won’t stop me from commenting on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago.

My dad was a Navy man, his last duty station at the Pensacola, Fla., Naval Air Station where he retired and where I grew up. In downtown Pensacola the Walgreens “5 and 10 cent store” had a lunch counter where a “whites only” sign wasn’t needed because it was understood, but the Sears store had drinking fountains with signs “White” and “Colored.” Every time I saw them I knew they were wrong, but I was just a kid.

My senior year in high school we had our first and only black student. Some thought it was cool to torment him.

Many years later, I had on my office wall a photo of two men I admired. One was John Steinbeck and the other was Martin Luther King; I knew he was right as he dangerously agitated for Southern white people to change, pushing with the courage of his convictions.

The day King was shot, the man I worked for as a mechanic said to me as he watched news reports on the office TV, “Well, I’m glad they finally got rid of that troublemaker,” and he was diminished as a man in my view, but maybe so was I, because I was 19, without any of King’s courage and I didn’t say anything.

I remember well King’s “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, a mesmerizing event. Now it has been 50 years since that speech; I watched a little of the recent anniversary ceremony, an endless series of speeches by Democrats warning us that although we have accomplished much, there is still far to go to achieve King’s dream.

Really? Pardon my brazenly asking, but how perfect must life be for blacks before America has done enough?

I wonder what King would think of Oprah, a black female billionaire, complaining that a Zurich store clerk inflicted racism on her by implying she may not be able to afford a $38,000 purse. Poor baby.

I wonder if Oprah, and mere mortal American blacks, realize that white people put up with a lot of crap, too. Every white person I know has been insulted, snubbed, slighted, affronted, offended, treated unfairly in the workplace and maybe even discriminated against by a black person. It’s called life and sometimes it ain’t pretty.

Don’t get me wrong. King was right. Before the civil rights movement, America treated its own black citizens in egregious ways, but things have changed radically since then. Generations of Americans have internalized the lesson that racial discrimination is wrong. Much of black America has become mainstream, with blacks occupying every vocation, profession, management level and even the office of president.

There are signs we have gone too far. Human resources rules in the workplace have edged close to hostility to whites in an attempt to pave the way for minorities, morphing into not only preferential hiring of minorities but in practice protecting underperforming employees – if they are minority. Ironically, the affirmative action programs established to “bootstrap” the hiring of blacks are now widely considered wrongly discriminatory themselves, and likely soon will be softened or eliminated.

We hand out free cell phones in black communities, food stamps (EBT) are given in soaring record numbers and our food stamp workers actively recruit new applicants and are rewarded for how many they sign up.

Government programs to intervene in life on behalf of minorities abound in many flavors from welfare to disability to subsidies for this and that, programs in hideous overlap and duplication piling on the grotesque national debt while providing disincentive to work. But it is never enough, and much of the black community remains mired in uneducated poverty.

At the 50th anniversary, TV talking heads sought out “black leaders” to comment or make speeches. A common thread in pursuit of King’s dream, you see, remains the ever-pressing need for jobs in the black community, and the oppressive discrimination of a justice system that sends young black men to prison in far greater numbers than young white men.

Never mind that too many young black men are uneducated, or that they dress and speak and conduct themselves like thugs so employers would never consider them. Don’t mention statistics telling us young black men are more than 10 times as likely to commit violent crime than their white counterparts.

The speeches say we must do more in our inner-city schools where the black dropout rate is still destroying the future, but we aren’t supposed to notice that foul behavior in those schools prevents learning, or that over 70 percent of black kids are born to young single mothers, locking them into a cycle of poverty and resentment and making good parenting difficult at the very best.

My own daughter is working pretty hard in her high school junior year, carrying a load of difficult classes in pursuit of her dream. I know many black kids are similarly laboring to chase their own dreams, but too many of them are discouraged by peers calling them “Uncle Toms” or accusing them of “acting too white” with their studies.

The time has long passed for agitation on civil rights. What the black community has needed for a long time is a cultural change to “responsibility.”

What would King think of conveniently absent fathers, the disintegration of the black family since his time, and the utter failure of so many blacks to capitalize on opportunities? Consider his own words excerpted from his speech, “What is your life’s blueprint?” given at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia on Oct. 26, 1967, six months before he was assassinated.

“... [I]n your life’s blueprint you must have as the basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor. You’re going to be deciding as the days, as the years, unfold what you will do in life, what your life’s work will be. Set out to do it well.

“And I say to you, my young friends, doors are opening to you, doors of opportunities that were not open to your mothers and your fathers, and the great challenge facing you is to be ready to face these doors as they open.

“Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great essayist, said in a lecture in 1871, ‘If a man can write a better book or preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, even if he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.’

“This hasn’t always been true, but it will become increasingly true, and so I would urge you to study hard, to burn the midnight oil; I would say to you, don’t drop out of school. I understand all the sociological reasons, but I urge you that in spite of your economic plight, in spite of the situation that you’re forced to live in, stay in school.

“And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.

“If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

“Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”

King was an imperfect man, and I didn’t always agree with him. He was far too liberal for my politics and though I finally discovered my own courage in Vietnam, he denounced that war as immoral. But on civil rights, he was right and he was bold.

My guess is King would be proud how part of the black community has bloomed and thrived and how we live and work together, and I think he would be furious at the many millions of blacks with their hand perpetually out for more “gimmes” or advantages in a never-ending cycle of excuses, failure and focus on the color of their skin instead of the content of their character.

And so maybe you will understand why every year, on the day marking King’s birthday I have to double-check my gag reflex as politicians and race-hustlers and King’s own family of parasites wrap themselves in his virtue, joining civil rights leaders in the annual televised lament that we have not done enough to realize King’s dream, with nary a mention that the disadvantaged poor might want to take advantage of the opportunities already spread before them in a way recommended many times by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – determination, commitment to excellence and hard work.

[Terry Garlock of Peachtree City occasionally contributes a column to The Citizen. His email is]


PTC Observer's picture


PTC Observer's picture

I hope you have out grown the admiration Mr. Garlock.

tgarlock's picture

. . . . than any objection you could possibly raise, PTCO.

Terry Garlock

Terry Garlock, PTC

PTC Observer's picture

Ok with me, but there are many more people that I could admire more than Steinbeck.

He was a devout New Deal Democrat, he idolized FDR and the false notion that the Depression was some sort of greedy capitalist conspiracy. His works certainly touched a raw nerve but they were philosophically dishonest. The personal human condition during the depression was real enough, he certainly illustrated this well, but the real evil was ignored and celebrated as the solution. This at the very least was intellectually lazy, if not dishonest.

Shaping minds to accept government superiority is corrosive to individual freedom. Therefore, I choose to admire others more than John Steinbeck. Though, I will admit he was a great fictional writer.

I can get into more specifics when we talk at Mimi's, but perhaps there are more interesting subjects? I have visited but haven't seen hide nor hair of you.

tgarlock's picture

. . . Michelangelo painted nice pictures. He wrote in a multi-layered thought-provoking way about the human condition, wrapped in a fictional cover.

I read "Of Mice and Men" in high school at gunpoint and thought nothing of it. Decades later the play at Pioneer Memorial Theater at the University of Utah was moving so I read the book again. It was disturbing and it made me think.

Next I read "In Dubious Battle," the story about a fruit worker strike in California written from the point of view of a Communist agitator, probably the origin of rumors that Steinbeck was a Communist. More uncomfortable thinking. "The Pearl," "The Long Valley," "The Wayward Bus" and "East of Eden" proved more thought-provoking themes on human nature.

I read "Cup of Gold," an historical fictional piece sort of based on sea dog Henry Morgan and his pirateering for Spanish gold in the Carribean, Steinbeck's first book and fun but not terribly noteworthy. "The Red Pony" was better though a painful story about a kid discovering life has a brutal side, but it was becoming clear Steinbeck was not a sermonizer so much as a dispassionate analyst, always digging for the essence of humanity, our nature and how we treat each other, always struggling not to be judgmental, applying what I would later learn was what he and his buddy Ed Ricketts called non-teological thinking.

"Cannery Row" was a great comedy about the bums on the Monterey peninsula, but there were multiple layers to the story as usual, juxtaposing the totally irresponsible but loyal and loving bums who had nothing, to the haughty, judgmental and unhappy fat cats of the town, an enjoyable read.

Even funnier was "Tortilla Flats" which opens with the main character awakened prone on the town beach at sunrise, with a headache, the taste of yesterday's tequila and his pants inexplicably gone. But again, amidst the humor and sadness is the peek at human nature perhaps best demonstrated by the woman who pretended to vacuum her front porch for all to see even though the old vacuum was broken and she had no electricity anyway.

"Grapes of Wrath" was what Steinbeck had always referred to as the "big-book" he wanted to write. It came in the aftermath of our government hiring him to go to the California migrant camps to write reports of what he saw there, where Okies were pouring in from the dust bowl looking for the rumored fruit-picking work and finding none and out of money. Surrounded by misery, and the unfairness of unpicked fruit rotting on the trees while guards prevented starving migrants from taking the leftovers to eat, Steinbeck tried to apply his dispassionate non-teological thinking to study them like looking at bugs through a microscope. But he failed because he saw things like young mothers grieving over dead babies because they were so undernourished themselves they had no breast milk, and the look of hope forever lost in the eyes of men who were defeated by being completely unable to provide for their family. Steinbeck tried to be the analyst but he was inevitably furious.

When his job was done he took up the task to write his big book on the subject, and he labored with hot passion. When he finally finished it, he judged it to be a fine indictment against the system that would allow people to be treated this way, but it was untrue to his style of dispassionate analysis, a bad effort in his view, and he burned it, started over, ended with "Grapes of Wrath" in his typical multi-layered style.

I continued to read every book Steinbeck wrote and was delighted to discover along the way that "Sweet Thursday" told the love story for which characters were developed in "Cannery Row."

In the travelogue "Travels With Charley" Steinbeck was getting old, felt isolated at his home in Sag Harbor, Long Island and felt he had become too distant from "the people," so he built a sleeper on the back of his pickup (campers weren't around in 1962), took his dog Charley and drove all over America taking every opportunity to listen to ordinary people, like a farmer picking corn, the man pumping gas or the lady behind the diner counter.

When I finished them all, I studied Steinbeck's life. When he finally became known as a writer, someone asked him what it is like to be a famous author, and he answered, "I don't know what an author is. I'm a writer." He would rather split a bologna sandwich with a field hand than dine with the high and mighty in great restaurants. I liked the guy quite a lot.

In my studies I found that the Doc character in Cannery Row was the very real Ed Ricketts, with whom Steinbeck became a great friend. They explored non-teological thinking over cheap wine when they could not afford beer, and their friendship comes in that same style in "The Log From the Sea of Cortez" when they took a boat south to gather marine samples for Ed's lab.

In a piece not published as a book, "About Ed Ricketts," Steinbeck wrote dispassionately about his hungry friend and how he died unexpectadly when his car was hit by a train while on his way to buy a steak for dinner. You had to read between the lines but the tribute of the deep love of one man for another was plain to see. Steinbeck always wrapped his thoughts deeper than the surface and demonstrated how he felt about Ed by writing things like how he and a few others, after learning of Ed's death, sat looking out to sea, and how he was afraid ". . . someone would want to say something."

Steinbeck was accused of being a womanizer, a communist and other things he was not, but whatever his politics, one thing he was, is and will be for sure is admired by me. That admiration was set in concrete long before I discovered that very late in his career he was sent by Newsday to write dispatches from the Vietnam War. Here's one he wrote about my brother helicopter pilots:

“Alicia, I wish I could tell you about these pilots. They make me sick with envy. They ride their vehicles the way a man controls a fine, well-trained quarter horse. They weave along stream beds, rise like swallows to clear trees, they turn and twist and dip like swifts in the evening. I watch their hands and feet on the controls, the delicacy of the coordination reminds me of the sure and seeming slow hands of (Pablo) Casals on the cello. They are truly musician’s hands and they play their controls like music and they dance them like ballerinas and they make me jealous because I want so much to do it. Remember your child night dream of perfect flight free and wonderful? It's like that, and sadly I know I never can. My hands are too old and forgetful to take orders from the command center, which speaks of updrafts and side winds, of drift and shift, or ground fire indicated by a tiny puff or flash, or a hit and all these commands must be obeyed by the musicians hands instantly and automatically. I must take my longing out in admiration and the joy of seeing it. Sorry about that leak of ecstasy, Alicia, but I had to get it out or burst.”

So you may take your best shot PTCO, but whatever you say about John Steinbeck, I will stand by him.

Terry Garlock

Terry Garlock, PTC

NUK_1's picture

I don't think it is necessary. Steinback was hardly a commie and was also a tremendous writer of fiction that made his works somewhat based on conditions of that time.

Don't get anyone denying the man's talents, which are still read today by students of history. He did something right, obviously.

Wow, that's heavy duty stuff about Steinbeck! Being the rather simple-minded person I am,I tend to favor Lee Child, James Lee Burke, CJ Box and WEB Griffin!

NUK_1's picture

Just finished his latest "Light of the World" last night. Excellent as always, though this one takes it up a notch too.

Big on the suspense/thrillers like Burke, Child, CJ Box(read The Highway two weeks ago and have read all of his stuff), Coben, Linwood Barclay, etc. Now about to dive into the latest from Markus Sakey "Accelerant," who is maybe the best out there right now. The guy is extremely good, but he's gone to the Amazon publishing model only which I'm not a real fan of, but so be it. That's why I have both a NOOK(like that name anyway:) and a Kindle.

Picking up 'The Highway' tomorrow and have 'Light of the World' on Hold. Eff tomorrow will be able to read 'High Heat', latest Lee Child book (only onDigital now)-- online-- via 'Overdrive' from local Public Library. Thanks for the tip on Sakey (who once ran a graphics design business inAtlanta).

Nuk, thanks for the tip on Sakey. I have been looking for some more authors in that genre. If you haven't already read them, try out Stephen Hunter and Robert Crais.

NUK_1's picture

Yeah, I have read all the Crais books also and some of Hunter's.

Another guy that I discovered a couple of years ago is Steve Hamilton who won an Edgar award a couple of years ago for "The Lock Artist," which is a helluva good read. He's also got a pretty long-running crime series and the guy definitely is good, though he doesn't get a lot of publicity.

tgarlock's picture

. . . but I am blessed with the habit of daily reading every night before sleep. Once in a while I read something heavy like "Founding Brothers," or "To Try Men's Souls," Newt Gingrich's excellent historical fiction of Washington's crossing the Delaware on Christmas eve 1776 in a last gasp desperate attempt to breath life into the revolution. I gave that book for graduation gifts last year as I believe every young American should read it.

But like you, I am an avid consumer of fiction, my daily mental escape to another life for a little while, not so much running away from reality as expanding what I know and think. I read many of the same writers you guys have mentioned, but almost always fiction. I did just finish "Tracks," a short book that was more of a journal, self-published and clearly unedited, by a Vietnam War tank sgt Marine. It was an interesting change of pace about part of the war unfamiliar to me, now it is done and back to my fiction steady diet.

Terry Garlock

Terry Garlock, PTC

PTC Observer's picture

It's OK with me, for me it's just a matter of choices, your choice is your choice.

BTW, Travels with Charley was fictional as well, though I am certain that the writer wanted you to believe differently. Not to say he didn't travel around but not in the fashion you believe.

tgarlock's picture

. . . then I am relieved. Of course it was not my intent to write about who you admire, whomever that may be.

Terry Garlock

Terry Garlock, PTC

Robert W. Morgan's picture

I mean they actually read books, maybe even go to the library and browse, maybe have an interest in a specific subject and devour everything they can find on that subject. That is wonderful, but alas, not everyone is like that.

Recently back from a family gathering in MD I found myself discussing politics, government and sports (certainly not in that order) with a group aged 19-35. Not sure which generation that is, but it is a long way from the Greatest One. Out of the 15 or so people that were there, only 2 made any response at all about certain books I referenced - Grant's biography, Why England Slept, Seabiscuit, The Great Gatsby, To Kill A Mockingbird, John Adams, Moby Dick, South Pacific, The Cathedral, Upcountry and others. Sadly I did not reference any by Steinbeck, but I share your admiration of his writing. And yes, I felt like a very old curmudgeon.

Now, I will freely admit I had not read all those books before I was 35, but I had read the older ones and probably 300 more - for example Advise and Consent (try to recognize today's Washington as the same place). Anyway, these people simply don't read. At all. Not one bit on their own. Maybe the minimum out of whatever passes for history books in school, but after that? Nope. Reading to better understand history, or country, the human condition? No, no they don't. One girl, who I had never met - my second cousin's new wife is 24, Army vet, going to graduate school (Uncle Sam is paying) had actually read some and asked me what I thought she should read. Wow! So that list, along with 50 others I e-mailed her later after looking at my favorite books. Nelson DeMille, Jeffery Archer, John Grisham, Anne Rivers Siddons (she's from Fairburn where she was plain old Annie Rivers), Tom Wolfe, Pat Conroy were all on the list of anything by any of these authors - recognizing that a 24 year old, no matter how bright was not about to become engrossed with the style of long-dead authors.

I also told her how I used to make fun of my mother for belonging to 2 book clubs - 2. One of them was the place that sent you a new book every month unless you stopped it, the other was a meeting at someone's house (occasionally ours) where a bunch of women sat around discussing the same book, Seemed silly at the time, but now I think we should impose that upon young people, illegal immigrants and Democrat voters (just kidding about the Dems, couldn't resist).

So, not a scientific survey up on the Chesapeake , but one bright person out of 15 and maybe a second one with potential? That's a pretty low percentage for the greatest country in the world. Think that will last?

I too enjoy Lee Child and David Baldacci and Vince Flynn. Lawrence Sanders and W.E.B. Griffin always come with me to the beach.

Live free or die!

I grew up in rural E. North Carolina where there was a Bookmobile that came in the Summer every 2 weeks to a x-road that was a 3 minute walk from our house. I would go down there, sign out an armful of books, walk back home and immediately sit down on the porch and begin reading one--only interrupted by shelling fresh picked Butter Beans for Dinner (that's lunch to some of you)! Living here,I have found the FC Public Library to be a wonderful source for books and the Director and I are on a first name basis. Every Sunday, I check the NY Times Best Seller List and immediately put those I haven't read (not many!) on hold. My Wife does the same. Their service is great and friendly to all. We are fortunate to have such a great facility & staff in our City.

NUK_1's picture

It's very well-run and I concur. I like the PTC library also, but there are a few books that sometimes come in-stock quicker in Fayetteville or just aren't available for some reason in PTC.

The Coweta library near Thomas Crossroads is also top-notch and first class all the way.

It saddens me that in times of budgetary shortfalls that library hours get cut right away. That's cutting your nose off to spite your face, IMO. These facilities are used by a lot of people, even students who have plenty of Internet access at their home and on their phones too. They still go to libraries. My senior parents go there to rent DVD's along with books.

Library folks just don't raise enough hell I guess and are easy to overlook, but if you give a kid the gift of reading, you have given that person something of meaning and a lot better escapism than the TV or video games or bars.

Agree--I have found several books there that were not available at the FC County Library and always found the staff friendly and efficient. What I will do is search the Flint River System and if PTC has it,I just have to change my pick-up location from FC Public to PTC. Not a big deal, as we're in the area a couple of times a week anyway.

The library's always get the short stick or the bum roof. Great place to grab a book, sit back and lose track of time. Finally got the older kid reading more once I laid down the hammer on the idiot box. I can't fall asleep at night without reading first.

I have lived all over the east coast and as far west as Tx. One of the first things I do is find the local library.

How many kids get in serious trouble at the library.

Of course, when I lived in Greenville, SC years ago, one of the areas leading pubs at the time was called "The Library". Sorry I'm late dear, went to the library, lol

You will also find a Pub by that name in Laramie, WY and it was there that my Son became engaged to his now wife of 12 yrs, when they were both students at U. of WYO.

NUK_1's picture

It was also a gay bar in Buckhead. Don't know if you want to tell the missus you were there instead of just out drinking :)

PTC Observer's picture


PTC Observer's picture

Opinions are like, _ _, everyone has one. That's what makes life interesting.

Not that you are at all interested, but I stopped reading fiction in my twenties.

I admire those that question the status quo, which you certainly do.

NUK_1's picture

What's your beef with John Steinbeck?

PTCO is probably pissed just because Steinbeck joined the American League of Writers, a Commie Orgn.

said what many of feel but you have put it so much more succinctly and eloquently. Until people are willing to work for what they receive they will have no pride in what they receive-it will have no value to them. Instead of being satisfied they will always be looking for more, always without extending the necessary effort.

During my lifetime, there have been many positions I could not obtain for various reasons, many of them had nothing to do with my qualifications. Since the reasons for my rejection had nothing to do with the color of my skin I had no choice but to accept it and move on to something else. I always did the best I could, went the extra step and always received recognition for my accomplishments. I never set back and demanded that because I had not been able to have the position I wanted that it was the government's responsibility to take care of me. I have always felt my welfare was my own responsibility, I brought up my children to feel the same. There were times things were rough, but we persevered and never resorted to asking for government assistance. How different it is for so many people today--need a cell phone? we'll give you 200 hours 'emergency' service a month. Can't afford to pay for your utilities, even though you have more than 100 channels on your TV, no problem we'll take care of that--and on and on it goes. What will happen when there is no more middle class to bear the burden? I am old enough to remember Kruschev saying Russia would not have to destroy us that we would do it ourselves from within. It is looking and more like he was right.

suggarfoot's picture

But, I hope you realize after reading this, DM is either lying spread eagle dead over her computer, or trying to organize a group of elderly black panthers to burn your house to the ground as we speak! :]

I want to thank Mr. Garlock for sharing his thoughts on the commemoration of the “I Have A Dream’ speech and saluting a true American Icon – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am a black woman from a family with a history of civil rights credentials. My mother and father, both proud ‘black’ Americans graduated from USC and UCLA respectively – in the 1930’s – long before Affirmative Action. My grandparents were also college graduates – and proudly ‘black’. I have always lived in an ‘integrated neighborhood’, although usually predominantly ‘black’ until my parents moved in 1953. That area became predominantly ‘black’ and just within the last 10 years is it becoming integrated with Americans of all colors who can afford to live in the community. (Los Angeles, California)

My parents exposed me to successful people of all colors – and yet, my father, in an attempt to protect me from the ‘real’’ world. . .taught me that ‘colored’ people were ‘better’ than white people. This was my reality until I went to Kindergarten – and was told by playmates that they couldn’t play with ‘nig . . .’ My response was I couldn’t either – (since I didn’t know what the word meant at that time) and we began to play together. I am friends with some of those elementary school classmates today.
( I have always believed that ‘colored’ music was ‘better’, coloreds had more fun at parties, and ‘colored’ fellas were so very handsome! – so I do have ‘prejudicial’ thoughts)

There were four of ‘us’ in my Brownie Troop – and Girl Scout Troop. It was years later when my mother shared with me the ‘effort’ it took to get us accepted by the ‘adults’. (I knew and liked my classmates – and thought it quite natural to share the scouting experience with them.)
When I was 11, (in the early 50’s) my father insisted that I travel with family through the south, so that I could have an understanding of my country and how some humans were treated. That trip was a terrifying, yet educational experience.

My great Aunt, when I was in college, told us about this young man who was inspiring so many with his talks about love and equality. This man was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was encouraging people in the south to resist the unequal status that was given to ‘coloreds’.
It was natural for me to join my friends, black and white, in the Civil Rights movement beginning in the late 50’s. We were well aware of Americans addressing this issue since the time of Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, and WEB Du Bois and before. These issues, which in my early years in college were called ‘human rights’ issues were discussed freely by my college classmates and professors who brought varied experiences to the discussion due to their unique ethnic backgrounds – Japanese American, Chinese American, Jewish American, Hispanic American, Irish American, English American, etc. (those of European background just called themselves ‘white’.) African Americans became ‘Black and Proud’.

I was not acquainted with too many Americans who were ‘silent’ regarding human rights.

It was also during this time, (the 50’s) that I became familiar with John Steinbeck. He was an excellent writer who exposed me to a culture found in California that I was totally unaware of. I find it interesting that Mr. Garlock has Steinbeck’s picture along with Dr. King’s on his wall. Dr. King, in his writings, stated that through his travels throughout our country, he noticed that not only the black community was in need of concern – but also the poor who happened to be ‘white’. (Grapes of Wrath, Cannery Row), etc. Dr. King’s dream soon included all mankind – black, white, brown, red, yellow – Americans all.
Would he be disappointed today that his dream has not yet been realized? Of course, but he would not ignore the progress that has been made, especially in the southern states of this country. There are many who are no longer silent – regardless of the color of their skin. That Americans are not taking advantage of the opportunities that so many have fought for is disgraceful. To denigrate an entire race is also disgraceful. I hope that Americans who live in Fayette County realize that they are surrounded by Americans of all colors who have assumed the responsibility of citizenship, worked hard, continue life long learning experiences, and respect their neighbors as themselves.

[quote]My guess is King would be proud how part of the black community has bloomed and thrived and how we live and work together, and I think he would be furious at the many millions of blacks with their hand perpetually out for more “gimmes” or advantages in a never-ending cycle of excuses, failure and focus on the color of their skin instead of the content of their character.[/quote]

My thought is that Dr. King would be furious at the millions of Americans who have not taken advantage of free education and opportunities within American society - not just in the black/brown communities – but also in the ‘white’ communities where some also have their hand out for more gimmes or advantages.
(I see a lot of ‘white’ people in Georgia and California using food stamps. . .especially in the shopping areas around Hollywood Blvd. in California and PTC./Fayetteville. Contrary to popular belief, Hollywood, California’s social services cater to ‘whites’. (Many young hopefuls from the midwest and south) And there are Grapes of Wrath and Cannery Row communities in TOO MANY American states.

There are also those who make money off the fraud found in government agencies and so-called charity programs. Dr. King’s dream was for all Americans to enjoy the freedom of our country with respect and dignity. John Steinbeck informed many of us that not only blacks and browns have had difficulty in our country.

Mr. Garlock should be commended for articulating the overwhelming sentiments of the Citizen blog about African-American recalcitrance to embrace Dr. King’s dream. Mr. Garlock contends that Blacks were horrendously mistreated historically in the United States; however, redress was completed in the 1960s Civil Rights and Voting Rights legislation. Furthermore, affirmative action initiatives actually secured an unfair advantage for Blacks. Yet, with all of these benefits, African-Americans staunchly refuse to take personal responsibility for advancing their status as evidenced by multiple indices such as crime and incarceration, out-of-wedlock births, welfare enrollment, etc.

Accepting all of Mr. Garlock’s premises, what is the logical explanation for the broad African-American community’s recalcitrance to embrace Dr. King’s dream, and how might this pattern be modified? Do African-Americans ignore their opportunities because they are so intellectually deficient that they cannot grasp the benefits of mainstream American success? Are they so morally deficient that they cannot curb their innate lusts? Are they so indolent that they will only accept handouts? Is their personal reasoning so inadequate that they are condemned to follow the dictates of what Mr. Garlock describes as “race-hustlers’? Are there other explanations for their failure to succeed in a climate so rich with opportunities for advancement with such a paucity of impediments to prosperity?

Once the etiology of Black America’s failure to thrive can be determined, perhaps a remedial strategy might be proffered that promises some potential for success. Otherwise, lamentations such as Mr. Garlock’s can accomplish little.

PTC Observer's picture

What do you postulate the etiology of Black America's failure to thrive to be? Or don't you have any ideas on this?

Is it vested in someone else, suppression of the black race by mysterious forces, the government's continual drum about entitlement, a culture that embraces a mobster mentality, drugs, "loose moral fabric", history, fatherless children, single mothers, what do you think it is STF?

Or could it be that we are ignoring the successes and focusing on the failures in the Black America culture, the exceptional business leaders, professionals, great fathers and mothers, the wonderful people we have living in our own community, our neighbors, our friends. The people we meet for dinner and the kids and parents at the soccer fields and churches. The interracial couples we all see everyday that are raising their children to be good citizens. Perhaps, just perhaps, things are improved from the days of the Civil Rights Movement and we are overlooking the progress we have made. Not that it's all perfect, it certainly isn't, but in American in the 21st Century, we have a lot of hope for Dr. King's vision. I certainly do. We need to remove the things that separate us, those imposed upon us by well intended people using government force, we need to open our minds and hearts and Dr. King's dream will be fulfilled.

This reminded me of a quote from one of Rev. Rowland Croucher's sermons, "Just as friction between certain types of rocks produces sparks of light, so it is the friction of our individualities rubbing against each other that illuminates who we really are."

Not only "who we really are", but what we will ultimately become as individuals and a nation.

No, STF, we are not perfect and we have a lot to do, but everything is not bad either. Just look around you for individuals doing the right thing and yes.......thriving.

NUK_1's picture

[quote]What do you postulate the etiology of Black America's failure to thrive to be? Or don't you have any ideas on this?[/quote]

STF has no ideas on anything, he/she just disagrees with anything posted and wants to argue with what they happen to see online here, which makes for a rather fruitless and boring "discussion."

What is your idea?

Actually, I am not disagreeing with Mr. Garlock; I am merely taking his premise to the logical conclusion. If the explanation for these dismal failures is totally the fault of African-Americans, why are they so inept? It would seem fruitless to attempt any type of remedial initiatives (additions or subtractions of private or public efforts) before answering this fundamental question.

Historically, I have attributed some failures within the Black community to the residuals of 300 years of racial discrimination that preceded their gains in the 1960s. However, Mr. Garlock is typically a thoughtful man, and perhaps his argument for irresponsibility alone is the most parsimonious explanation.

When substantiation of one’s point of view evokes “a rather fruitless and boring discussion," we are devolving precipitously.

You sent many to the dictionary on that one!!

PTC Observer's picture

It seems a bit misused in this context,

Or does STF mean "restrained"? If so, this would be more appropriate word and less obtuse. However, maybe this is not STF's goal?

Even Einstein believed that a thing should be stated as simple as possible but not simplistically. Take a lesson from great minds STF.

PTC Observer's picture

obscure, just say what you mean, you'll reach a wider audience and your meaning will not be questioned. IMHO

[quote]Are there other explanations for their failure to succeed in a climate so rich with opportunities for advancement with such a paucity of impediments to prosperity?[/quote]

Would 'laws' and traditions have anything to do with generations of 'Black Americans' and 'poor Americans inability to thrive in American society? What was the basis for limiting the educational opportunities for southern Black Americans and/or poor whites in the south? (Was there a law against teaching 'blacks' to read in the south?) "Be the best you can be" was certainly heard in many of Rev. King's messages - and he and his family were the embodiment of reaching above 'servitude' to 'other Americans' to being prepared to work WITH other Americans. There were 'whites' of great vision and generosity who provided land and facilities for Americans of a different color in the south - and provided the basis for Americans of color to leave the south and attend colleges and universities (many being historically black colleges located in the south and other regions of the US) where they could obtain the skills to be the 'best they can be' in any occupation that would benefit the United States and local communities. Unfortunately, for generations there was also a segment of American society that remained 'silent' at human injustices and believed that separate but equal was beneficial. The opportunities of American society were available to those of a certain 'color' and 'class'. The discussion continues. Light must be shed on the successes and the failures of our American way. From looking at our successes honestly - surely we can find avenues for lifting those who want to contribute out of poverty based on lack of education and/or opportunity. Mr. Garlock's lamentations are based on his life's view. Some want to keep silent the reality that once an American embellishes his God-given skills with proper education and equal opportunity - he can succeed in this country.

[quote=stranger than fiction]perhaps a remedial strategy might be proffered that promises some potential for success.[/quote]

In the minds of those that believe that others owe them for a perceived wrong, "remedial strategy" = 'another government program' that takes from those that work hard and gives to those that have chosen not to.
If Obamacare isn't good enough for Big Business, Big Labor, or Big Government,then it isn't good enough for the American People.

[Quote]Fred Garvin wrote:

In the minds of those that believe that others owe them for a perceived wrong, "remedial strategy" = 'another government program' that takes from those that work hard and gives to those that have chosen not to.[/quote]

As long as we focus on the perceived wrongs, the work towards seeking solutions to real problems is stymied.

<Cite>Entitlements= loss of power for American white males.</cite>. Is perceived by some as a perceived wrong.

The problem: too many American citizens are receiving an inadequate education to maintain American ability to remain a leader in the world community.

One step towards solution: Americans learning to respect one another and teaching the history/contribution of all Americans to Americas strength, which was part of Dr. King's dream.

There are those who have chosen not to contribute legally, but there are those who have not/are not being given the opportunity to contribute. To pretend that racism/elitism/classism does not exist in our country is debilitating to our countries progress.

If Mr. Garlock is accurate, perhaps withdrawing government programs is the most promising remedial strategy.

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