Happy Birthday. From the January 19 issue of Doug Dobmeyer's "Poverty Issues...Dateline Illinois" (PI...DI):
"Chicago held a prayer breakfast on January 15 (King's actual birthday) at the posh Palmer House. The 1,200 people invited by Mayor Daley came to celebrate the 1998 image of King. Daley imported an exceptional speaker in San Francisco mayor Willie Brown. Brown spoke of the need to not let the guard down and keep the fight up. Pretty predictable and good stuff.
"But the more interesting dynamic took place in the corridor outside the Grand Ball Room, site of the speech. PI...DI observed an African-American man that wasn't wearing a suit. He didn't look well off. He was dressed in average looking clothes with a coat. He might have been taken for someone who was homeless. He didn't start a conversation with anyone.
"He came into the corridor with an open door into the ballroom where a few people including PI...DI were listening to Mayor Brown extol Dr. King to the audience. However, he among the few people in the corridor was immediately hassled by the Hilton Corporation (owner of the Palmer House) gendarmes. The conversation went like this:
"Guard 1: Do you have an invitation? (This man was the only person asked about an invitation of the dozen people standing in the corridor.)
"Man: No, I just wanted to see what was going on with the King celebration.
"Guard 1: You'll have to leave. Go downstairs now!
"Man: I just want to see...
"Guard 1: Leave or you'll be arrested.
"Man: I don't care what you do.
"Guard 1: Your choice (putting his hands on the man to restrain and push him backwards).
"Man: It's your choice.
"Guard 2: Look, let's go downstairs. We don't want to have you arrested.
"Guard 1: Are you going to leave?
"Man: No answer.
"Guard 1: OK (as the three guards led him to a room off of the corridor).
"Meanwhile inside the Grand Ball Room Mayor Brown was winding up a half hour inspirational speech about helping your fellow man, don't forget the people and so forth."