Longtime Newcity contributor Scoop Jackson’s father, Robert Jackson Jr., was a reporter for the Chicago American in the sixties and early seventies and one of the first recognized Black reporters in the city. A two-time Pulitzer nominee, he ended his career as a columnist for the Rocky Mountain News.
In covering the civil rights movement for the American, Jackson reported on Martin Luther King Jr. on marches in the South and when he came to Chicago. So when it came time to interview Jonathan Eig about his major new MLK biography, Scoop was the natural choice. You won’t find a more provocative and insightful discussion of King and his legacy anywhere.
My father had some influence on this story, too, though with far less substance than Scoop and his father. I was five years old when King was assassinated, too young to understand or pay attention to much news. But with the tragedy blanketing the media, I asked my dad about it. His response, that it was a greater loss than the murder of JFK, would shape my perspective on the world in many ways. King became an early idol for me, a white boy then living in Lincoln, Nebraska; I cut out his picture from the newspaper and hung it on the wall like I would football stars. Years later, when we started a newspaper for the nascent South Loop, I used the fact that his march from Soldier Field to City Hall passed through the neighborhood as a rationale for writing my first story, about him and that day, in the first issue of Newcity. I am so proud that we can publish a definitive story now, and wish my dad were still around to read it.
This one’s for the fathers, and the wisdom they pass on to their sons.
Shards of personal history run through the other major features in this issue, too. I live just a few blocks south of the Monadnock Building, where the Optimo Hat store has long intrigued me with its cool design elegance shining through its wide storefront windows. Dave Hoekstra’s story goes deep into its history of perfected craftsmanship and its connection to iconic blues musicians. And Ted C. Fishman, who’s written for Newcity since our neighborhood days, started out covering art for us, so it’s great to see him back in that world with his interview with Jaume Plensa in this issue. We have a photo on our wall from Newcity’s earliest days of the late artist Robert Rauschenberg, taken when Ted interviewed him when he was in town for a gallery exhibition.
Look for Newcity’s May 2023 print edition at over 300 Chicago-area locations this week or subscribe to the print edition at Newcityshop.com.
IN THIS ISSUE
At the Threshold of Forgotten Dreams
Jaume Plensa returns to the city of his wildly popular “Crown Fountain”
Finishing the Hat
Getting lost in the fine art of Optimo
Jonathan Eig and his groundbreaking new biography of MLK
A new poem by James McManus
And so much more…