James Brown pays respect to Martin Luther King, Jr. Live at the Boston Garden. April 5, 1968.
James Brown. 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."
James Brown: First we got to pay our respect to the late, great and incomparable. Somebody we love very much. Somebody I have all the admiration in the world for. I've got the chance to know him personally. The late great Mr. Martin Luther King.
Cornel West: He was a lover of Martin Luther King Jr. This is James he is actually a patriot. He is a lover of America. You know what they call Martin America's best friend. It's one of the most powerful formulations of Martin in a way.
James Brown: That I want to say this you know in the city I know that people who stayed home, who stayed on the street for the safety of the city.
Marva Whitney: Everybody was tense, but Mr. Brown has a tough crew. They were going to do their job, but I mean, you are human and you didn't know what was going to go on.
Male Speaker: What must have been like for James Brown to go onto that stage. I wonder if he was in fear of his life. This were the days before metal detectors. You could have brought anything into that show. That was heroic for him to do that.
Marva Whitney: If he was afraid, you did not know it. You didn't know it. He wasn't gonna let you see that.
Kevin White: I never meet anything like James Brown. I never saw anything like James Brown. Man, he was, he was a piece of work.
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