Wednesday, April 4, 2018

James Brown Pays Respect to Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 5, 1968)

A clip from the documentary, "The Night James Brown Saved Boston", features James Brown paying respect to Martin Luther King, Jr. at the beginning of his live concert at the Boston Garden, April 5, 1968. The clip features discussion on James Brown's motivation to perform the night after Dr. King's assassination by James Earl Ray and the risk he was taking going onstage. 

In the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination 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. 

Fans rushed the stage in the middle of live performance and the police moved onstage to remove them. James Brown stood between the police and the stage crashers and immediately took control of what could have been a riotous moment in light of the raw emotions of the Black community and the tenuous relationship with the police. James Brown addresses the audience asking if he can finish the show, with the infamous words, "We are Black. Don't make us all look bad." He was asking for "respect from my own people." 

Source: James Brown 

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