Monday, January 17, 2005

Thank You MLK

No, the man wasn't perfect.

But then, neither is any of us.

Thanks to InstaPundit for highlighting Virginia Postrel's interesting perspective on how far we have come in a relatively short period of time.

The new issue of Modernism Magazine features a back-page article on the new O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, Virginia. Link was a photographer who recorded the waning years of steam locomotives. The museum is in the former Norfolk and Western train station, which famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy redesigned in 1947. As Modernism's Victoria Pedersen writes: "He completely transformed the 1905 neoclassical station, adding 22-foot ceilings, marble walls, terrazzo floors, a futuristic wall of horizontal windows and a dome. He also designed a concorse leading to the train platform that featured the first passenger escalators in the Roanoke Valley, cutting-edge technology for the period." The new station was the epitome of streamlined modernism. But what that meant in the Virginia of a half century ago is spelled out in the letters above the door in these photos from the Library of Congress collection, the first of which Modernism reprinted.

According to the Modernism photo caption, the Link Museum has removed the "Colored" sign. Wouldn't want to remind visitors of just how recent--how modern--legally enforced segregation was.

Too bad -- it is an important part of our history, and I would certainly want to explain to my daughter why the word was where it was.

Also, another fascinating perspective:

In September 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the eulogy for three of the four girls killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. What King could not know was that, within earshot of the blast, just blocks away at her father's church, was another little black girl, a friend of the youngest victim, who 42 years later would be on the verge of becoming America's foremost diplomat.

This year, the Martin Luther King holiday, marking what would have been his 76th birthday, falls on Jan. 17. The next day, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opens hearings on the nomination of Condoleezza Rice to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of state.

It's a stunning juxtaposition that offers those who knew King, lived that history and ponder his legacy an opportunity to wonder: How might they explain Rice's rise to him? And what would he make of it?

She is, after all, the literal fulfillment of King's dream -- a woman judged not by the color of her skin but by the content of her character. She is also living proof that King's eulogy was prescient, that "these children -- unoffending, innocent and beautiful -- did not die in vain."

As Glenn says, Indeed.


Racist Hillary's perspective.


Virginia Postrel has an update on her museum story above.