On the weekend of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, I have to take a moment to share a story about the picture above. It appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times in August of 2006. My older daughter appears in the picture, and for that reason I purchased a copy of the paper and held on to it over the past six and a half years. The little girl in the picture is a teenager now, and once again I’m struck by how quickly time goes by.
I’ve been meaning to digitize this for some time, because I can spin paranoid fantasies about having this getting thrown out or otherwise misplaced with the best of them. And now that it’s going to be associated with this post and have its own URL, it will last for as long as people use the internet. That makes me feel a lot better.
The picture was taken on the base of the Picasso sculpture in downtown Chicago. Since the base of the sculpture slopes downward, children often use it as a slide. It most likely wasn’t intended for this use, but try telling that to any of these kids in the picture.I sure wouldn’t have the heart to do something like that.
With Dr. King’s legacy being remembered this weekend, I wanted to point out that his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, contained the following line:
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I’m going to take a little artistic license with Dr. King’s words, and suggest that the base of the Picasso statue in Chicago is an extension of the Georgia hills. Likewise, the “table of brotherhood” might just as well read “the base of a sculpture.” The children are all sliding together, without regard to what anyone’s skin color is. I look at this and feel that Dr. King would approve.
Things aren’t where they should be when it comes to race relations in this country, and certainly Chicago is guiltier than most when it comes to race relations. Dr. King found that out when he came to Chicago and was hit in the head with a brick in 1966. It was a shameful moment in the city’s history, to say the least.
But the picture offers visual testimony that Dr. King’s vision has been realized, in some ways. That’s why I’m proud to share it in this space, as well. My hope is for everyone to have a chance to see examples of Dr. King’s vision realized, not only this weekend, but all year long.