The Night James Brown Saved Boston


On Saturday as I was driving to the grocery store, I heard a section of an NPR report on a documentary airing on VH1 about James Brown on the night after Martin Luther King was assassinated. The NPR story was interesting enough for me (who as Kris Nelscott wrote a book about the assassination [Dangerous Road]) to tune in.

For those of you who weren’t paying attention over the weekend, Friday was the 40th anniversary of King’s death. Cities burned in response. On April 5, 1968, the white government of Boston worried that the James Brown concert planned for that night would be an excuse for black rioting (not kidding). And so they worked with Brown to keep the peace. It’s a fascinating documentary, and it’s one of the few I’ve seen on the King assassination that shows the despair and helplessness that most of us felt at the time. It’s worth checking out. One note: It seems to be longer than the scheduled hour. Set up your DVR to catch 5 minutes at the beginning and 10 minutes at the end. You can see the air dates here.