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Proviso Probe

Friday, October 31, 2008

Studs Terkel has died

Studs Terkel died today.

In 1992, in a Navy Exchange (Okinawa, I think) I bought Race: How Blacks and Whites Think and Feel About the American Obsession.

At that point I'd been overseas since 1989 (minus a trip home for Thanksgiving in 1991).

I didn't know who Studs Terkel was when I bought the book, but I recognized the name from my time growing up in the Chicago area.

I don't think I was a blank slate about race issues when I read the book. I had liberal sensibilities from my family and time in Oak Park. And being stationed on a ship homeported in Japan and visiting various places, including Korea, Okinawa, Hong Kong and the Philippines one can't avoid the issues of race and culture. Race played an issue on the ship too.

During the LA riots of 1992 (after the acquittal of the police officers video taped beating Rodney King) my commanding officer decided to censor the news. When a ship was at sea we got periodic news bulletins with brief summaries of the top stories. Captain Jack Londot decided that to avoid racial unrest on the ship he'd just keep people ignorant about the riots in Los Angeles. The first I knew of the riots was from reading the sports news (a separate message) that matter-of-factly mentioned that NBA playoff games in Los Angeles were being rescheduled.

Terkel got real people to disclose feelings. The book was probably the first book explicitly discussing race that I read.

I also appreciate that Terkel's book connected me to Chicago. While I enjoyed my time overseas, I did intend to return to Chicago and make a difference. Terkel hardened my commitment to make the world a better place through working for social justice.

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2 Comments:

  • I resent the insinuation of your comment that Captain Jack Londot, my father, kept people ignorant of the racial stuff going on in L.A. You guys were out in the middle of the ocean. Why in the world would he want his men to be affected by the racial bigotry going on in the outside world? You had a WAR to deal with and he didn't want any outside influences affecting the outcome of that war. I am very proud of my father who was a hard working Navy man who came up through the ranks, from decking the swabs to captain. He never went to military school so he understood how it felt to be at the bottom. Every other person under his command has only great things to say about my dad.

    By Anonymous Marti Londot, at 5:35 PM, May 16, 2010  

  • Marti, thanks for leaving a comment.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 6:58 PM, May 16, 2010  

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