The Night James Brown Saved Boston

One day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – on April 5, 1968 – the Godfather of Soul performed a concert in Boston that many say shielded the city from the devastating riots that burst in other U.S. cities.

This documentary – directed and produced by David Leaf– tells the story of an amazing night when James Brown’s magnetic energy and supreme music transformed the anger of the black community into a soulful protest. Featuring archive footage and personal interviews with some of the protagonists of the event, the film unfolds the negotiations that took place between Boston’s mayor Kevin White, the public television station WGBH and the artist himself, in order to carry out the concert live and broadcast it several times during one of the most stormy nights in the history of urban America.

David Leaf’s interview on NPR  / story.php?storyId=89273314

The days that followed the concert, President Johnson urged Brown to visit Washington, D.C. and salute inner-city residents there performing at a benefit concert in effect to express the notion that violence “wasn’t the way to go”. Many in the black community felt that Brown was speaking out to them more than some major leaders in the country, a sentiment that was strengthened with the release of his groundbreaking landmark single, “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”.


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