Friday, July 9, 2010

Dr. King in Boston . 1

In early September 1951 Martin Luther King, Jr., ML as his father called him, packed his bachelor belongings into a shiny new green Chevrolet and headed north for the thousand mile drive to Boston. The Chevy, equipped with the recently introduced Powerglide automatic transmission that he'd admired in a friend's car, was a gift from Daddy King as his father, Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., was often called by his family and flock. It was his reward for graduating at the top of his class in May from Crozer Theological Seminary outside Philadelphia.

1951 was a key year of transition for the country. The final business of World War II was winding down and, bridged by the futile Korean War, the Cold War was heating up.

It was the year of Duck and Cover. Atomic testing and war games began in the Nevada desert and Marshall Islands. The first nuclear power plant went into operation. The Rosenbergs were tried and executed for slipping A-bomb secrets to the Russians.

The first commercial computer, Univac 1, went into service and next year predicted the presidential election. The transistor was developed at Bell Labs. Coast-to-coast direct phone dialing and TV broadcasts began.

Upon his arrival from the Jim Crow South, King soon encountered the harsh reality of the segregated North.
I remember very well trying to find a place to live. I went into place after place where there were signs that rooms were for rent. They were for rent until they found out I was a Negro, and suddenly they had just been rented.
After some searching he and Phillip Lenud, a friend from Morehouse College where King did his undergraduate work, found an apartment at 397 Massachusetts Avenue in the South End across from the Savoy Cafe. The Savoy has long since ceased stomping (replaced by an apartment building at 400 Mass. Ave.), but King's digs still stand, a few doors down from the Orange Line T station and marked with a small bronze plaque.

Continued at Dr. King in Boston . 2.

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