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How James Brown Stopped the Civil War 1968

James Brown agreed to help the authorities stop the spread of violence and appealed to all the rioters...

James Brown calls for an end to the uprisings and rallies...

On the night of April 4-5, 1968, tensions escalate in the United States after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. James Brown continues his Boston Garden concert by agreeing to broadcast the show to keep the city quiet.

Thousands of people lined the streets of Atlanta, Georgia for Martin's funeral
Thousands of people lined the streets of Atlanta, Georgia for Martin's funeral
It was a menacing confrontation....
It was a menacing confrontation...

Riots break out across America in response to King's assassination. The mayor of Boston considers canceling the show (along with all other public events), but an African-American councilor convinces him to televise the concert instead.

Brown agrees to the plan: the concert is broadcast live on Boston public television station WGBH.

James Brown with City Councilor Thomas Atkins (left) and Mayor Kevin White
James Brown with City Councilor Thomas Atkins (left) and Mayor Kevin White

There are a lot of cops on the show keeping their finger on the pulse. As the audience rushes onto the stage, the cops get violent but don't cross the line. Before the police can take action, Brown intervenes and orders the cops to back off, asking the crowd for respect and dignified behavior.

"Come down and let's put on this show together,  he pleads. We are black. Don't make us all look bad."

The crowd complies and Brown ends the show without incident. In the city, crime is down compared to a typical Friday night as the telecast clearly had the intended effect.

One year before the murder. April 23, 1965. Martin Luther King Jr. walks down Charles Street with Ralph Abernathy (right) and Reverend Virgil Wood, head of the Boston chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
One year before the murder. April 23, 1965. Martin Luther King Jr. walks down Charles Street with Ralph Abernathy (right) and Reverend Virgil Wood, head of the Boston chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

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