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Rewind: Boston, April 1968

This article is more than 12 years old.

Reverend Martin Luther King Junior was assassinated — 40 years ago today — in Memphis, Tennessee. The day after, there were riots in black communities around the country. In Boston, unrest seized Roxbury and North Dorchester.

James Brown was scheduled to perform that night at the Boston Garden but the show was almost canceled by then-mayor, Kevin White, who says in a new documentary that "His concert we thought might bring as many as 15 or 20 thousand black people from the community, mostly young people, into the city. It just had too much emotion in it not to decide whether that would be a problem."

The VH1 documentary, "The Night James Brown Saved Boston," recounts how the show ultimately went on and was broadcast live on WGBHH Channel 2. The show helped keep the peace in Boston.

Now, 40 years later, WBUR'S Bob Oakes talks with two people who remember that night well. Kenneth Guscott was the president of Boston's NAACP at the time, and Jimmy "Early" Bird was a local DJ and booking agent for James Brown.

Audio for this story will be available on WBUR's web site later today.

This program aired on April 4, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

Bob Oakes Twitter Host, Morning Edition
Bob Oakes has been WBUR's Morning Edition anchor since 1992.


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