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Democracy's CapitalBlack Political Power in Washington, D.C., 1960s-1970s$
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Lauren Pearlman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469653907

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469653907.001.0001

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They Just Won’t Let It Happen Here

They Just Won’t Let It Happen Here

The 1968 Riots

(p.57) 2 They Just Won’t Let It Happen Here
Democracy's Capital

Lauren Pearlman

University of North Carolina Press

On April 4, 1968, riots broke out in the capital and more than one hundred other cities following the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The uprising left thirteen people dead and more than twelve hundred injured, as well as an estimated $27 million in property losses, troop deployment, and city expenditures in Washington, D.C. alone, catapulting the city to the center of national debates about civil rights and law and order. Chapter 2 shows how Johnson’s riot prevention and control measures—and particularly the ways in which they were implemented in the District—reordered the government around the problem of crime, challenged the local black government’s authority, dampened the potential for radical change, and laid the groundwork for the conservative ascendance. In particular, local white business and civic groups and national lawmakers used the disturbance as a means to challenge the prudence of home rule legislation and pose questions about the future success of black self-determination—questions that remained long after the riots’ duration.

Keywords:   Lyndon Johnson, Riots, Martin Luther King Jr, Washington, D.C., Home rule, Self-determination

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