As most of us know, Rodney King was found dead in the pool at his home early Sunday morning. As authorities claim no foul play and a formal autopsy will not be completed for weeks, many are asking what will King’s legacy be.
I believe that King will be remembered as a symbol, in fact the most unusually perfect symbol: the accidental Rosa Parks of the 1990’s. For he was not, like mother Parks, strategically placed in an attempt to expose and highlight the social inequities of a municipality known as Montgomery. No…not Rodney. He in fact was the one the movement would not have picked. He was a troubled young man struggling with addiction and the typical social realities similar to many young black men in urban America. He was the brother that was not profiled, but was speeding and driving erratically; the brother who did not do exactly what the officers told him to do; but even still the citizen who still deserved a police department to follow procedures that both protected them and him.
But in 1991 as hundreds of millions have seen over and over thanks to the quick camera work of George Holiday, members of the LAPD struck him, and struck him again and again and again. Fifty three blows from officers' nightsticks. He was the unusually perfect symbol because despite all he did wrong, he had rights that were violated. The moment officers are able to safely restrain a suspect, no additional force is to be used. For those officers to be acquitted said loud and clear to America that police brutality was acceptable, even when caught on tape. The uprisings in L.A. that followed and the subsequent federal case that sent two of the four officers to jail sent America a stronger messag:. No police misconduct and abuse was not acceptable.
In the 21 years since the beating, there have been two Rodney Kings. The symbol, the one who even following a savage beating was able to be the country’s conscious and ask “Can't we all just get along”? And then the man who was afforded little room to be human, who was critiqued at every turn and was often demonized for his struggle with addiction more than supported to find the place where he could manage it.
I hope that we remember him for being both. I hope we remember the man; as we have so many in our own families struggling with addiction, up again and down again, but truly pushing to be whole. That was what I saw him doing before his death, preparing to be married, trying to put together pieces with a family who he had let down. I hope all of our prayers will be with them at this time. But I will also always remember Rodney the symbol. Because day in and out there are Rodney King’s who don’t have a George Holiday, even when they do have judges and juries that still see race and class before humanity on a video.
Because there are so still too many unusually perfect men and women being beaten and abused by those abusing their power and ignoring their purpose, let's fight for them family by showing up for jury duty versus running from it; voting down ballot for judges and prosecutors who have a true heart for justice. And even as we fight for what is right, always pushing for what Rodney called for when he asked if we could all just get along…Peace. Lord knows we can all use some.
As always, I’m Jeff, and that’s my truth.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
1 of 31
2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
2 of 31
3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
3 of 31
4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
4 of 31
5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
5 of 31
6 of 31
7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
7 of 31
8 of 31
9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
9 of 31
10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
10 of 31
11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
11 of 31
12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
12 of 31
13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
13 of 31
14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
14 of 31
15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
15 of 31
16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
16 of 31
17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
17 of 31
18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
18 of 31
19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
19 of 31
20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
20 of 31
21. Bae #retailtherapy
21 of 31
22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
22 of 31
23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
23 of 31
24. Diggy Simmons
24 of 31
25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
25 of 31
26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
26 of 31
27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
27 of 31
28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
28 of 31
29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
29 of 31
30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
30 of 31
31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
31 of 31