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.
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