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How James Brown helped keep the peace in Boston

After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, rioting broke out in cities across the country - but not in Boston. James Brown had been scheduled to perform at the Boston Garden on April 5. At first, a panicky Mayor Kevin White wanted to cancel all public events, including Brown's concert, but his aides convinced him that cancelling Brown's show might make things even worse. Brown played - and the show was aired on WGBH - and Boston stayed relatively calm. The Phoenix calls the concert one of the greatest concerts in Boston history:

... The show was an absolute tour de force. Brown soothed his mourning audience by dedicating the concert to Dr. King and delivering a million-watt performance packed with greats: "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," "Cold Sweat," "That's Life," "Try Me," "Please, Please, Please," and more. He invited White to speak to the crowd and the cameras. And when police reacted to fans who rushed the stage at one point, Brown assured them he could handle things himself, pleading, successfully, for everyone to return to their seats. On this night, music literally helped determine the course of Boston's history.

Brown at the Boston Garden in 1968:

Collateral Damage feels bad.

Geoff Edgers has more.




I was with my parents and brother on Christmas when we learned the news. My parents were telling us about this concert and how they remembered that if it were not for James Brown, they have no doubt that there would have been a serious race riot in Boston. They said things were literally at the point of exploding. It's pretty amazing what one man was able to do.

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Bah, GBH made 'em take it down.

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Hi Anali,
Would your parents to be willing to talk about that night with CN8 tv on camera? We're looking to do a story on the night of the concert.


Andrea Gibbs

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