The use of “political correctness” in the USA, has long been one of my favorite topics. It is a disease that is shared by most LIBERAL POLITICIANS! They simply don’t know, don’t care and don’t give a damn!! “PC” is public crap!
Over the past few months, I have been requested to speak at various and sundry type functions, Civil Rights, Politics, Elections, Awards, Colleges, the subject seems to arrive at the “Daddy” King doorstep. Why did you, a white man decide to write this book? Why? Why? Why?
To me, the response is always the same, “I had the unique experience of being a close friend and confidant to one of the great men of the Twentieth Century!” Perhaps one of the most unique relations in modern history. He was the exact same age as my Father, I am the exact same age as his oldest son, Martin Luther King, Jr. We were introduced by Rev. Fred C. Bennette, Jr., in Atlanta, after I received publicity as the General Counsel of the Georgia Department of Labor, having led the change in compensation laws for the United Automobile Workers in Georgia. After the introduction, several weeks passed and Rev. Bennette asked me “…if I would be comfortable calling him Dad?” I assured him that it would be “…high honor and a personal privilege.”
From that day forward, until his death on November 11, 1984. we chatted at least several times a week, and met at least once a week, the highlight being our weekly luncheons at the Marriott Hotel in the heart of downtown Atlanta, which we experienced for three and one half years.
The single most important impression I want to leave the reader is that history has not paid Martin Luther King, Sr., his due. If the civil rights movement had a father, it was Daddy King, in the same way he was father to his son.
We faced his three tragedies together, Martin Luther King, Jr. murder; A.D. King drowning; and the murder of “Mama” King while she was seated at the organ in Ebenezer Church on Sunday morning. In baseball, three strikes and you are out! For Daddy King they were super-human challenges, which he met with dignity and grace.
To look back at the “Black Church,” over the past one hundred years is to recall some of the most important moments in history, fight for education, battle for civil rights, quest for women’s rights-the church was more than a place of worship, it was a school, theatre, community center, meeting place, political engine, and in each category Daddy King was the vanguard, at the forefront, leading the charge.
Without him, it would have been a very different century in America.
Yes, I remember him well! “Bo Peep,” the never-to-be-forgotten, legendary character that lived in Savannah, Imperial State of Chatham, Georgia! He was born October 25, 1899…died July 7, 1963. Hardly a week passes by without someone, somewhere asking me about “the little man.” Black, white, yellow, red, rich, poor, Jew, Christian, Buddist…it doesn’t really matter, they all have either known him personally or “…heard tell of him.” He owned and operated a restaurant, bar, pool room, hotel, package shop on the entire one-half of Congress Street at intersection of Drayton Street, in the heart of downtown Savannah, for approximately 25 years. It was the mecca for men. It was home to many. It was paradise to a few. It was said “When I die, I don’t want to go to heaven, I want to go to Bo Peep’s” Honestly, there never was a place like his before, and will never be again. They tore down paradise to put a parking lot! Bo Peep’s kitchen produced the finest, tastiest, Roast Beef Sandwich on the planet! Thick slices of medium-rare, premium Roast Beef covered with thick brown gravy on white bread, that brought tears to your eyes, it was so good, some said,”… it…made you wanna beat yo’ mama..” What was it that kept people coming to his place for all those years? Him! He loved people, he loved the “action,” where you could bet any amount that you can count on any game you can name! Demonstrated his concern for his fellow-man by contributing to churches of every denomination, synagogues, hospitals, orphan homes, schools. Before there was a United Way, there was Bo Peep. Up every morning, seven days a week at 7:00 A.M., dressed, and ready for the events of the day. Where did he get that drive and desire? He was one of five children, whose parents operated a tiny store at the foot of West Broad Street, (Now Martin Luther King, Jr. ) Quit school in the third grade to shine shoes for a living. Determination to succeed, overcome handicaps, improve his condition and that of his family, to give them more and better than he received, not only his wife and four children but all of his family and hers. In short, Money! It was the mark of success by which he thought others evaluated him. Honest, kind; earned a little, spent a little less, to make on the whole a family happier for his presence. (I hope you will continue to monitor this “blog” daily as I re-visit Bo Peep. For those interested in his story, I published a book in 2003, “This Bo Peep Ain’t No Fairy Tale!” a few copies still available- $21.95.)