As one can tell from my work with the Education Coalition, KingCast, Justiceforkids and the Nashua School Board on serious First Amendment issues, inspirations and kindred spirits include teacher Erin Gruwell ("Freedom Writers" with Hilary Swank), and Lawyer Lawrence Graham. Graham's cheekily-titled 1996 read, "Member of the Club," is one in which he -- a wealthy black man, Harvard Law grad -- poses as service staff in wealthy Connecticut to see how the World operates when you are persona non grata by virtue of race and economics.
Only thing is, when Graham was running around serving food in lower Connecticut he was a rich man and it was an experiment.
With me, I was never a rich man and it was no experiment, it was reality TV on the Internet; as noted by this open letter to the Hyatt Greenwich, it became my life.
I'm reading the manuscript now and from time to time I will publish a few passages -- probably 3 or 4 -- here on this blawg. It's extremely well-sorted and James' treatment of the issues of the promise of education, race, politics and my legal battles is near-brilliant.
The Kings helped make a little bit of history when they moved into Cleveland Heights. Realtors would show houses in neighborhoods according to skin color..... "Now it was 1970," he continued, "and the American landscape was changing rapidly. Soon, urban sprawl, black folks and other unsavory minorities would invade every open area, but for the time being we were exactly one of two black families in our neighborhood."
"Housing discrimination was the order of the day," King said. "But my parents fought that and demanded to see all available houses. Our street was a line of demarcation, to the south and east of which there were no blacks...... a lawsuit," King continued, "was initiated by the Cleveland Heights Community Congress against Hilltop Realty, and my parents posed as racial 'testers' to help verify the discrimination. The United States Supreme Court eventually upheld the finding of unlawful discrimination issued by the lower Federal Court."
"Fortunately," King said, "most of our neighbors were quite nice and we all got to know each other..."
But of course it wasn't always so easy. More on that later. Meanwhile, this is how we looked in '72-'73, with my Mom making those seersucker suits with love and considerable skills because that's how you had to do things trying to make it in America when you brought your family up from the South, where you used to pick cotton for money, and had no real money to speak of.