Dr. King's dream betrayed
It's one of the saddest legacies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In American's gritty urban centers, many streets and avenues that were named for him, following his murder on April 4, 1968, are now awash in violence. Black-on-black violence.
One example occurred on Wednesday in a neighborhood of southeast Houston. That's where Demarkus Harrison, a 20-year-old black man, was killed by gunfire -- allegedly fired by an 18-year-old black man named Louis Dante Anthony IV. He is being sought by police but has not been charged.
This shooting was notable because of what Anthony's father did after an angry bystander tossed a bicycle at his car as he sat at the wheel. Louis Dante Anthony III, age 38, gunned his accelerator pedal and, as numerous police officers and reporters watched, barreled his car through a crowd of screaming onlookers. TV news cameras recorded the mayhem at the Belarbor Apartments at Belarbor Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Incredibly, no injuries were reported as a result of the vehicular mayhem.
Aside from watching the shocking scene of bystanders running for their lives, take note of the neighborhood where the mayhem occurred. The apartments look comfortable and well maintained. Streets are landscaped and orderly. Late-model cars, pick-ups, and SUVs line the streets and fill parking lots. This is no ghetto. It's what might be called lower-middle class. Yet in many low-income foreign countries, such a neighborhood would be occupied by people who are dazzlingly rich, and who behave with a refinement and possess values befitting their wealth.
Yet in this neighborhood, material comfort has not translated into what might be called middle-class manners and values; a lifestyle once idealized in television sitcoms like "Father Knows Best" or "Leave it to Beaver" or "The Bill Cosby Show."
TV news reports of this incident offer a truly sad glimpse into a certain segment of American society -- with all its pathologies on display. This is news and social commentary. It underscores how a cornerstone of Dr. King's dream -- the betterment of black Americans through non-violent protests and racial equality -- has turned into a nightmare for some. It may come as surprise to liberals, but material wealth is not necessarily enough to erase the pathologies of a culture that Dr. King probably never envisioned would exist nearly a half century after his death.
The news segment from KHOU 11 in Houston says it all: