I was alive to see JFK gunned down. I was 21 years of age, taking a year out of college to work and to get my bearings in life. I had a menial delivery truck job, picking up and delivering blueprints and photocopies. During one of those deliveries, as I exited my VW deliver van the shocking news of the assassination stunned me. It was like a punch to my belly. I had not attempted to sort out the President's politics, or filtered his profligate life style from his accomplishments as head of state. I remember only that even in high school the election of such a young looking man to so lofty a position inspired me. And now he was gone. It was 1963.
The sixties were a maelstrom of shocking events. Jack Kennedy, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy were all killed by assassins. Four significant leaders, with culture changing ideals and hopes. Their deaths wounded a couple of generations, bred cynicism, shaped lives. Perhaps the heaviest blow was the death of Martin Luther King, because unlike the other three, he championed the most worthy cause with the stature of a peacemaker.
It may be difficult, even impossible for newer generations accustomed to our multicultural communities to imagine the inequality and prejudice and injustice incurred by blacks in the United States of America. There were no African Americans in TV ads, and few in any TV or movie role other than token representations as servants and employees. No whites were allowed in white schools, or could drink from the same water fountain. In 1963 Martin Luther King delivered the 'I have a Dream' speech which changed the face of a nation. It is worth hearing once again. King's unqualified incorporation of biblical phrases and references reflect his preacher background but most importantly the foundation for the principle of equality and that we are all God's children. Of poignant interest in the section at the 12 minute mark in this 17 minutes speech of his 'I have a dream' statements. Here it is.