Health & Family

In Los Angeles, a day full of despair

The tumultuous events of 1968 changed America forever. To mark the 40th anniversary, we are publishing recollections.

In 1968, I was a senior in high school in Sarasota, Fla. It was a difficult time to be young.

Upon graduation, you either went to college or you had a high probability of being drafted. I ended up doing both.

The summer after graduating, I was working as a volunteer for VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) in a poor neighborhood in Palmetto, Fla. The schools were segregated and we were trying to develop summer programs to help the black students and the children of migrant workers catch up with the white students, who had a huge advantage in local schools.

While visiting the homes of our students, I noticed there were two photos hanging in almost all the living rooms: John Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

Many of the blacks felt they had lost a friend when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. They thought that the leadership of their civil rights struggles had been championed by Dr. King, and when he was shot in April 1968, many blacks felt that Bobby Kennedy would help the poor reach their goal of equality.

I was working in a black neighborhood the morning after Bobby was killed in Los Angeles and many of the people were full of despair. I have never felt as empty as I did that morning.

Although I realize there are still struggles for the poor in America, I still enjoy seeing a schoolyard of children of all races getting along just fine.

I think these three men would be smiling, too.

Mark Creasser, a businessman and Air Force veteran, has lived in Weddington since 1993.