Recently, the children of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were in the headlines. According to published reports, the two sons of Dr. King wanted to sell his Nobel Peace Prize and his personal bible for financial gain. Their only surviving sister opposed the sale.
None of us are privy to what is really happening internally with the King children. However, what those of us on the outside see is what we would term petty bickering, greed and general selfishness. I admit that the King children should not sit back and watch while others gain and profit off the image and words of their late father. But to try and sell two items that were the very foundation of who Dr. King was, and what he represented, is a sad commentary on the mental health of the King children.
Speaking of mental health, another story making the news is that Linda Johnson Rice is planning to sell the entire photographic catalog of Ebony/Jet magazines. The financial greed in this undertaking is that, since taking over at the helm at Johnson Publishing Company, Rice has done an excellent job of ruining everything her adopted parents once stood for. First to be lost was the Ebony Fashion show, followed by the only high-rise building on Michigan Avenue owned by a black man (sold to Columbia College).
Jet Magazine, once a staple of the printed press is now solely available online. For years, we read and watched as she apprenticed under her adopted parents to gain the business acumen that they had acquired. I recall how John H. Johnson, even when she was given the reins, still stood firmly in the background advising and monitoring her to teach her savvy business skills. But since Eunice Johnson died, Rice seems hell-bent on ruining and undoing so many of John H. Johnson’s accomplishments that one wonders if she’s doing it intentionally.
After all she was given, is there an underlying hatred of her parents? We are watching unfold before our eyes almost every black institution built when we weren’t considered part of this society, and now we silently stand by as the mountains are torn down rock by rock before our eyes and we don’t see or get it.
If one pays attention, the children of many of the Civil Rights icons are proving that they didn’t inherit the same fortitude their parents had. When I look at the King children, it is easy to blame their waywardness on the loss of their father at an early age. But we can’t ignore how Jesse Jackson Jr., who had his father around his entire life, chose to go down a path that led to jail. It makes me wonder: If the children of the rich and famous end up confused and lost, how does that bode for the offspring of the average person. Is there “something in the water” as old folks like to say?
Lastly, I attended the mayoral forum held last Saturday, Jan. 24. at Friendship Baptist. The only three candidates in attendance were William “Dock” Walls, Bob Fioretti and Willie Wilson. All three candidates promised to reopen Chicago’s mental health facilities, closed by Emmanuel, and Wilson promised to reserve one for Rahm himself. The missing two candidates obviously didn’t feel the Westside NAACP forum was important to their time and thus when Westsiders go to the polls, we should remember that as we cast our votes on Feb. 24.