In the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on April 4, 1968, rioting broke out in cities across the country. James Brown had been scheduled to perform at the Boston Garden on April 5th. Boston Mayor Kevin White had initially wanted to cancel all public events, including James Brown’s show. As there was concern that the cancellation of the show might cause an escalation of the crisis. it was agreed that James Brown’s show would go on. The show, one of the greatest in Boston’s history, went on and the city of Boston remained relatively calm. James Brown consoled his mourning audience, dedicated the show to the memory of Dr. King and was instrumental in keeping the peace on the streets of Boston. This concert became known as ” The Night James Brown Saved Boston”
Fans rushed the stage in the middle of live performance and the police moved onstage to remove them. James Brown stood between the police and the stage crashers and immediately took control of what could have been a riotous moment in light of the raw emotions of the Black community and the tenuous relationship with the police. James Brown addresses the audience asking if he can finish the show, with the infamous words, “We are Black. Don’t make us all look bad.” He was asking for “respect from my own people.”
When you touch me. When you touch me good God. I can’t stand it. Can’t stand it. I can’t stand your love good God. Wait a minute. I’m all right. I’ll be alright, I’ll be fine. I’ll be alright. I’m alright. I’m alright. You wanna dance? Dance. Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. They’re alright. That’s alright, that’s alright. It’s alright.
Fan: Hey you are my man baby.
James Brown: Wait up. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Let me finish the show. Wait a minute. Let me finish the show for everybody alright. Okay let me finish for everybody else.
Fans: Fine James.
James Brown: Okay. Alright let me finish the show now come on. Thank you very much. Thank you. Wait a minute now we gotta show for you young men and young ladies. Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait. Now wait a minute, wait, wait. Ladies and gentlemen wait a minute. Ladies and gentlemen. Can I please have your attention? Wait a minute, wait, wait. This was no wait. We are black. We are black. Now wait a minute. Wait a minute. Can’t y’all go down and lets do this show together. We’re black. Don’t make us all look bad. Come on. I’m doing a show. Come off the stage. Sit down son. Step down there. Step down there. Be young. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Wait a minute son. Wait a minute. Now why, why are you up here? Do you wanna see the show?
James Brown: But why don’t you get down son and let me do the show. No that’s wrong no, no. That’s wrong. You’re making me…You’re not being fair to yourself and me either. You’re not being fair yourself and me at all your waste. Now I ask the police to step back because I think I could get some respect from my own people. Don’t make sense. Now are we together, are we?
James Brown: Hit the thing man.