Remembering Dr. King From a Slightly Different Angle

Forty years ago this week Martin Luther King, Jr., was gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee.  I will begin all of my classes by reminding them of this important date.  King’s assassination on April 4, 1968 sparked widespread race riots across America that cost dozens of lives and led to damages worth hundreds of millions of dollars. It hastened the process of ‘white flight’ from the inner cities that left many American downtowns virtually abandoned. Many have not yet recovered.  In the days immediately following King’s assassination it was left to countless individuals – some famous, but mostly obscure – to try to quell the violence.  The most famous example is that of Robert Kennedy climbing a platform to reassure and calm the people of Indianapolis.  What most people are not aware of, however, is what took place the next evening  on April 5 in Boston where James Brown was scheduled to give a concert.  Brown decided to go ahead with the concert and agreed to have it televised as a way to maintain calm in the streets of that city.  He was later thanked for his efforts by Lyndon Johnson.  Here is a short clip from that concert.  VH1 recently commissioned a movie around the concert called "The Night James Brown Saved Boston" which can be seen on Saturday.  Note: I’ve been known to employ some of Brown’s moves in this video while teaching.

2 comments… add one
  • Kevin Levin Apr 3, 2008 @ 16:22

    Andy, — Nice to hear from you and thanks for the link.

  • Andy Apr 3, 2008 @ 16:09

    Kevin, In Boston the local PBS Station has short documentary posted on their site , called the “Politics of Soul”. The Mayor at the time Kevin White realized that if he cancelled Brown’s concert that he would be adding fuel to the fire by upsetting people more then they already were. He and his staff worked with the PBS station to broadcast the show locally giving those who were not at the show something to stay home for. What saved Boston was that through James Brown people had a release for some of their pent up emotion.


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