I grew up in the fifties in America. I was a great time. The middle class was growing. Most of our little families in the mill town where I live were able to buy the houses which had been duplex apartments owned by the company and convert them into nice little single family homes. My Dad was able to buy his first new car in 1966. A Ford fairlane. It was a pretty good little car. Had a 289, 8 cylinder motor. We ate more hamburgers by 1967, where we had eaten pinto beans and corn bread back in 1958. I think we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken to eat out for the first time in the late sixties. I was able to buy two comic books a week for a quarter a piece in the late sixties, where I had only gotten one per week back in the fifties, even though they were cheaper. I found some friends who had been collecting since the early fifties and was able to catch up on some of the series I had been wanting to read, but couldn’t afford.
By the time I graduated High School in 1968, things were beginning to change in America….and they haven’t stopped changing since that year.
John Kennedy was gone. He left in 1963. He was killed in November of that year. It was the same year that Martin Luther King had given his famous “I have a dream” speech in Washington. That had been in August of ’63. I didn’t get to see it in person, but the news carried it. I remember it well. I remember him saying:
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day
live in a nation Where they will not be judged by the color
of their skin but by the content of their character. l I have
a dream … I have a dream that one day in Alabama,
with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips
dripping with the words of interposition and nullification,
one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black
girls will he able to join hands with little white boy’s and
white girls as sisters and brothers.”
Sisters and brothers. He had that dream.
Up until that year, 1968, we still had Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. But they were both assassinated that year. Fighters who would fight for freedom were gone. Heroes who would fight for all people of all colors and all creeds…who would replace them? Who could replace them? Who has replaced them?
I look at the people who are in this world of 2016 and I wonder…..what have we become a nation of? I realize there has always been hatred and division in America. America is a country which is grounded in division. We were born from division in the Revolutionary war. We killed each other during the Civil war over the division between North and South. We have been divided many times since then. But I will have to say I have never, ever witnessed the hatred and vitriole, and the pure purposelessness which I have seen recently.
I am looking very hard for some of those heroes like we had back in the sixites….