Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PBS: "A More Perfect Union" from "The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross"

On Tuesday, November 26, 2013, PBS presented Episode 6 of “The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross”, namely “A More Perfect Union, From Black Power to Black President”, 1968-2013, primary link here. Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the host and narrator. 
The episode started with the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King in 1968.  I was in Basic Combat Training at Ft. Jackson, SC at the time. We were on “Red Alert” as if a show of force in downtown Columbia SC could mean anything.  I recall hearing reports of problems in Orangeburg, but the major cities exploded, especially Newark and Detroit (helping explain the decline of the Motor City).  In Washington DC, upper 14th Street rioted, only to become gentrified and repaired decades later (around the U Street corridor today).  Similar problems occurred in Los Angeles.

Historians claim that society became more polarized under Johnson (and then Nixon) than it would have under JFK, despite Johnson’s pushing of the Civil Right’s Act.  Generally, groups like the Black Panthers formed, and local neighborhoods learned to police themselves.  Tensions may have quieted some, but economic recession in the old rust belt set in the 1970s and did not improve that much for black America in the 1980s under Reagan, although in upper income levels minority owned businesses sometimes got preferences in getting government business  (I interviewed for a job with one of them in 1988). In 1991, the notorious beating of Rodney King occurred.

The later part of the hour covers the rise of Barack Obama, with the help of Oprah Winfrey. 

 Wikipedia attribution link for second picture, near Montgomery AL, here

Third picture is Philadelphia, MS, which I visited in 1985 while living in Dallas.  This is the Wikpedia ;picture  it looked pretty much like this (but in April the leaves were out).  

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