April 4, 1968

It happened six days after my 3rd birthday, so I don’t have memories of the day. But I can picture my mother screaming. I can picture my grandmother also upset. I can picture my father trying to console them, while tears ran down his own face. I can picture my older brothers, in their teens, stunned and confused, hurting. I can picture them worried that a repeat of the Watts Riots would happen again, when armed vehicles went down their residential street, when a bullet lodged into my grandmother’s house, when the local stores could not carry food for several days because the area had turned into a no-man’s land. I can picture them all staring at the little black and white TV, the one with the fake wood paneled exterior on the four legs, the one with the oval-shaped picture tube, in disbelief, dismay, distress. I can picture them all living in a haze for the next few days, weeks, months, years.

I can picture these things because I, too, have experienced similar moments, when the world turned upside. Most recently, with the election of the foul one whose name I try to avoid using, the one who put out a perfunctory video praising Dr. King, but who works day and night to undo everything Dr. King stood for. I screamed the night he was elected, my mother’s scream, my grandmother’s scream. I shed the tears my father shed. That’s how I know how they reacted 50 years ago today. Because we live on the same path. Its windings are known to me.

April 3, 1968. (Charles Kelly/AP)

© 2018, gar. All rights reserved.

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