D.C.- a visitor's perspective

I just got back from dropping off my youngest child in our nation’s capitol where she is starting college. (We might look at the empty nesting syndrome in a future blog. Student loans too.)
Just the mention of “Washington D.C.” is enough to cause some people’s stomachs to curdle but despite all of it’s power-lusting shenanigans, I must confess that I love the place.  I lived here for a few months many years ago while working at a show in Ford’s Theater and I have been back a few times since.
It is an indisputably unique city and everywhere you turn it overflows with history. No matter how many times you see them, the Mall and its monuments and museums are still overwhelming and I pity anyone who doesn’t feel stirred in some way after visiting them.
On this visit, I made my first trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial http://www.nps.gov/mlkm/index.htm and found it powerful and awe-inspiring. The man was a prophet and the wisdom he channeled is encapsulated in a collection of his quotes. They are just brilliant- and the rhythm of his language adds gravity to every phrase.
Dr. King has crossed my mind recently as I’ve considered the threatened strike by the fast food workers. Besides being the first person that comes to mind when considering race relations in the 20th century, MLK was also a staunch advocate for economic justice and he found the two to be inextricably entwined. It’s fairly obvious that he would have wholeheartedly supported these workers in their quest for a livable wage.
D.C. is not a cheap place to visit. It might have something to do with the fact that, besides being the most educated US city, it has the highest median household income. I believe there are more Whole Foods than Starbucks, (well….maybe not) and in one of my Foggy Bottom Whole Foods visits I noticed that there were a dozen cashiers and none of them were Caucasian. These are sought after, relatively well paid jobs, the kind that would not have been available to “minorities” when Dr. King marched 50 years ago. And I saw many diverse racial groups employed throughout the city in good public and private sector jobs.
I was really taken aback by how friendly and helpful everyone seemed to be. I didn’t get that big city “attitude” which I have experienced in other travel situations. It doesn’t seem to be a stretch to draw the conclusion that when people are given good jobs and compensated fairly that they will be happier on the job as well as on their off time.
Although far from “paid in full”, I think Washington DC has made great strides in honoring that “promissory note” that Dr. King referenced in his famous speech on the Mall, 50 years ago today.
And I’d be willing to bet that, come tomorrow, in some way shape or form, Dr. King will be marching in that line with the McDonald’s workers.

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