50 Years After DC Burned, the Injustices That Caused the Riots Are as Urgent as Ever

Photo: Warren K. Leffler/Library of Congress

For a moment, the peace seemed to hold. It was the evening of April 4, 1968, and Martin Luther King Jr. had just been killed by a gunman in Memphis. An angry crowd had gathered at 14th and U streets NW, the nexus of African American commerce and culture in Washington, DC. The demonstrators were making a simple request of local shopowners: Shut down to pay your respects. The owners readily complied. The crowd moved on.

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