PLATTSBURGH — Martin Luther King Jr. raised Peter Slocum’s awareness of socio-political issues.
“... of reality in the country to large parts of the population, including myself, and also the awareness that individual and community action can make an enormous difference,” the Keene man said.
“That gave me a different sense of political power and the importance of citizen activism.”
The former anti-war protester, journalist and community activist is the keynote speaker at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission’s annual celebration to honor the iconic civil-rights leader on today.
The event, at 1:30 p.m., features speakers and live music at the Blessed John XXIII Newman Center, 90 Broad St., Plattsburgh.
Born in Troy, Slocum grew up in the Albany area, he said, “in a very liberal, democratic household.
“But I was not sort of aware of community-protest activities when I was a kid.”
In college in the mid 1960s, though, he became involved in anti-war demonstrations.
“I was clearly inspired by the civil-rights movement,” he said.
“I was involved in the first significant anti-war protest march in Washington in 1965. I was certainly inspired by the March on Washington.”
Fearful he would get drafted into the Vietnam War, however, Slocum enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Wurzburg in Germany, located between Frankfurt and Nuremberg.
“I was an infantryman for a while,” he said. “Then, I became a clerk in a division headquarters. We were guarding from possible Soviet invasion.”
He longed to work for the U.S. Army’s Stars & Stripes newspaper but ended up a clerk typist.
“I had to wait until I was out of the army to become a newspaper man,” he said.
From 1971 to 1982, Slocum worked for the Washington Park Spirit, a community newspaper in Albany. Subsequently, he worked for the Troy Record, Associated Press and then the New York Daily News.