OK, I might as well admit it.
When I first heard of the Occupy Wall Street initiative, I thought it was just a group of overfed and overeducated and underemployed “white” boys trying to get their own generational street cred. “New Millennial Hippies” (Mippies?) out to gain a little attention, smoke a little grass (or whatever they call it these days) and hopefully get laid by some arty-cutey from the Upper East Side or Jersey (Or both).
That was just the cynic in me talking. Deep down, the “better angel of my nature” was begging to be heard. But the devil in me still thought... as soon as the cops grab and twist a few arms, break some legs, spray a few faces with mace and kick a little ass, the kids would cry “foul, unfair, not nice” and scurry back home.
Maybe it’s because I remember standing on the corner of Chicago’s Michigan Avenue and Randolph, looking south, down toward the Conrad Hilton Hotel and deciding not to walk down past Grant Park. It was August, 1968 during the Democratic Convention. I was a 20-year-old “black” man who’d just moved out of Robert Taylor Homes, America’s largest housing project at the time, after scoring my first decent job – in the big time ad agency game.
Not that I didn’t feel for the hippies and yippies and Panthers getting their heads busted in the park. I was as philosophically on their side as I am on the OWStreeters’ today. But I was no fool. I opted out for what became a 35-year career creating ads for the biggest ad agencies in America and their clients. Being one of the first and few “un-whites” in the corporate suites then was my version of contributing to the Civil Rights Movement, as Jesse would say – “in the suites, if not the streets”.
Which brings me – quite nicely – to my point. The Civil Rights Movement was one of ...