James Brown. A clip from the documentary, "The Night James Brown Saved Boston", features interviews about the live concert at the Boston Garden, April 5, 1968.
In the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, rioting broke out in cities across the country. James Brown had been scheduled to perform at the Boston Garden on April 5th. Boston Mayor Kevin White had initially wanted to cancel all public events, including James Brown's show. As there was concern that the cancellation of the show might cause an escalation of the crisis. it was agreed that James Brown's show would go on. The show, one of the greatest in Boston's history, went on and the city of Boston remained relatively calm. James Brown consoled his mourning audience, dedicated the show to the memory of Dr. King and was instrumental in keeping the peace on the streets of Boston.
Newscaster: Washington, Chicago, Detroit, Boston, New York, these are just few of the cities in what's the Negro anguish over Dr. King's murder presumably by a white man expressed their self in violent destruction.
Male Speaker: As dawn broke on April 5th, American cities were assessing the damage embracing for a weekend of full scale riding.
Richard Flavin: They tend to forget about it. This was a time of tremendous crisis and everyone understood it that this iconic figure had been gone down and so everyone understood that this was beyond politics and it was beyond personal ambition and it was an attempt to keep the city whole.
James "Early" Byrd: We got to get hip. We got to get hip to the job as we say. You got to know what's going on your city.
Male Speaker: He didn't know James Brown from James town but what he did understand was that James Brown had a whole segment of the community which at that moment was angered, disfranchised.
Tom Atkins: And so Kevin now was thinking of how he could use James Brown to help solve his problem of trying to get through a weekend without having the city go war.
Dr. Cornel West: And he see this all the time that right when the crisis hits the white community, things will get serious. Crises to black communities just normal, catastrophic circumstances in black America turn away, went invisible. Catastrophic circumstances in white America, now they are serious probably we gotta do something. Now let's talk about James Brown and all these other people who really talk about healing
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