Monday, June 18, 2012

Links on Rodney King

I have some links on Rodney King for today.

1.  I thought this article by Dylan Stableford was really good.  Stableford says:

"He 'never set out to be a James Meredith or Rosa Parks,' the Los Angeles Times wrote. 'He was a drunk, unemployed construction worker on parole when he careened into the city's consciousness in a white Hyundai early one Sunday morning in 1991. While he was enduring the videotaped blows that would reverberate around the world, he wanted to escape to a nearby park where his father used to take him. He simply wanted to survive.'  Instead, he became an 'icon of the civil rights movement,' albeit a reluctant one...'The King beating and trial set in motion overdue reforms in the LAPD and that had a ripple effect on law enforcement throughout the country,' Lou Cannon, author of 'Official Negligence: How Rodney King and the Riots Changed Los Angeles and the LAPD,' said."

This is a powerful passage.  It was also interesting to learn that Lou Cannon, the author of biographies of Ronald Reagan that I have enjoyed, wrote a book about the Rodney King incident and its aftermath.

2.  In 1992, Barbara Jordan gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention.  I was Republican-leaning at the time, but I still felt that Barbara Jordan's quotation of Rodney King was powerful, as she said that "we must be prepared to answer Rodney King's haunting question, 'Can we get along?'  To watch the speech, click here.  The part about Rodney King starts at 14:00, but the entire speech is worth watching because (in my opinion) it is an effective Democratic critique of the policies of the 1980's.

3.  On May 5, 1992, the New York Times had an article, RIOTS IN LOS ANGELES: The President; WHITE HOUSE LINKS RIOTS TO WELFARE.  I remember when I was in a high school history class and I said that the Los Angeles riots were due to welfare, and an African-American student shook his head no.  There are debates about whether welfare policies help or hurt the inner cities, and if alternative policies can work better.  But that incident in high school planted within me the seed that I might be wrong----that there was a side of the story that I did not know about with my white, middle-class background.

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