James Brown. A clip from the documentary, "The Night James Brown Saved Boston", features Civil Rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton discussing how James Brown managed to connect with people and his motivation for performing the night after Martin Luther King Jr.'s murder.
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.
Rev. Al Sharpton: It was only one man that could make America stand still and think and that was the man who didn't have a PhD for Boston University like Dr. King did. He wasn't a proponent of nonviolence. He never got a nobel prize but he was a man that knew how to express the grievances and the screams and they feel it of a whole people and because people say he feels like us, we want to at least give him the benefit of a doubt and hear what he's got to say because if anybody understands what we feel tonight is James Brown.
James Brown: Yeah. Good God.
Rev. Al Sharpton: He knew that he was taking their anger and their fury and channel again to a show business performance.
James Brown: Yeah!
Rev. Al Sharpton: But he also made the choice that that was the only thing he could do to show respect that Dr. King and save peoples lives that night. So even though there was those that criticize him of trivia lies in this to a show. He understood that it made me a trivial way of saving lives and preserve Dr. King's legacy.
James Brown: Now, now, now, now, now, now, now ahh!
Rev. Al Sharpton: But I agree he did it. He did it and you can argue the means and the technique but you can't argue the results.
James Brown: Come on we did the show ladies and gentlemen.
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