MEMORIES OF RIOTS PAST AND
It’s like “déjà vu all over again.”
Yogi Berra’s famously mangled line is often quoted to describe the feeling that not only has something happened before, but that it’s happened repeatedly.
The chaos in Baltimore evokes Los Angeles’ Watts Riot of 1965, the Detroit Riot of 1967, the second L.A. outbreak in 1992, and of course, last year’s mayhem in Ferguson, Missouri. And others. So many others.
I remember most vividly the multi-city violence that broke out after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968. A student at Temple University (which, to this day, remains an integrated island located in the middle of a predominantly black urban ghetto), I was doubly saddened at King’s assassination — first, for the blind, persistent hatred that should strike down a man of principle and courage, and second, at the rapidity with which righteous anger was translated into the very kind of wanton lawlessness King preached against so fervently.
Had the nation learned nothing from the Civil Rights Movement? Had whites and blacks made no progress at all?