I was 6 years old growing up on 71st Street near California Avenue in Marquette Park when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led his valiant protest 50 years ago this summer. I do not recall that march specifically, but I do recall other African-American and “white supremacist” marches that occurred in our neighborhood.
Our neighborhood was predominantly Lithuanian immigrants (like my parents) — hardworking, church-going, law-abiding — who fled their homeland of Lithuania, leaving their possessions and, often, family behind. You see, they were considered “enemies of the people” by Josef Stalin's communist regime. They were educated people, with property, who believed in democracy and would oppose the new communist regime. By 1953, Stalin deported at least 120,000 Lithuanians (not including Latvians, Estonians and Polish who were also mass deported) to hard labor concentration camps in Siberia, where many (including my grandfather) perished.