About the Book
On the 20th anniversary of the 1992 L.A. riots, cultural icon Rodney King discusses the experience of being brutally beaten by members of the LAPD, the widespread violence that followed the infamous trial of the officers involved, how he saw this country change as a result, and his feelings about improved racial relations as they exist in the U.S. today. Rodney King has a prominent place in American history, having become an iconic symbol of the problems of race relations in the U.S., but has mostly stayed out of the limelight since his reluctant thrust into fame after an LAPD beating and the subsequent explosive trial of the officers who beat him. Their acquittal caused public outrage that raised tensions between the black community and the LAPD, increased anger over police brutality and social inequity, and sparked a violent riot that nearly destroyed the city of Los Angeles. But it also had a positive effect - it forced the often taboo and unspoken subject of racial conflict into the public consciousness, where it could be discussed openly by all. On March 3rd, 1991 video footage was taken by a bystander that showed LAPD officers repeatedly striking King with their batons while other officers stood by watching. Although the Internet did not yet exist, both footage of the beatings and coverage of the violent and explosive riots that followed the verdicts went viral, shown repeatedly on news programs around the world. King's plaintive question, "Can we all just get along?" became a haunting plea for reconciliation that reflected the heartbreak and despair caused by America's racial discord during the 1990's. But while Rodney King may be an icon, he is by no means an angel. In the years before and since the police beating, King was involved in a robbery, struggled with drug addiction, and has had problems with alcohol. However, he has also refused to be bitter about the crippling emotional and physical damage that was inflicted upon him that night in 1991, and instead has resolved to lift himself out of the legacy of his impoverished and abusive childhood to create a better life. While the US has made great strides during those twenty years to heal, so has Rodney himself, and his story can teach us all lessons about redemption and renewal, both as individuals and as a nation. It is a story of one man's determination to find peace despite the riot within.