Rodney King Dies at 47

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rodney King was found dead early yesterday morning at the bottom of his swimming pool. Police are investigating the death as a drowning, without any evidence of foul play.

The 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, which stemmed from King's beating in 1991, was this past April. In the days leading up to the anniversary, King released a book. He described two decades of struggle with drugs and alcohol and frustration with politicians and lawyers who cast him as a symbol of civil rights.

But in an interview with the Leonard Lopate show on April 25, King said that his anger had faded, and that he was working to overcome his addictions.

Anna Deveare Smith wrote and acted in the one-woman play 'Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992' about the LA Riots. While writing the play, she interviewed about 320 people who were somehow involved in the riots, Rodney King’s aunt among them. 

Guests:

Anna Deveare Smith

Produced by:

John Light

Comments [8]

Dick

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Mar. 07 2013 04:38 AM
SusanP from NYC

What about Nafissatou Diallo--the hotel housekeeper in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case? Innocently doing her job, ends up bringing down the head of the IMF and presumed next President of France.

Jun. 18 2012 10:05 AM
Jennifer from West Village

Ryan White demonstrated that AIDS was not just a "gay Man's" disease; he was an ordinary boy who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion.

Jun. 18 2012 09:25 AM
Michael

Hurricane Carter was another victim/folk hero

Jun. 18 2012 09:20 AM
Hank from Miami

This is an excellent question, and I think many of the commenters have so far missed the point. Anne Frank and the US Air passenger who thwarted the terrorists were all ordinary people who demonstrated admirable ability in moments of crisis. Rodney King, however, was merely a victim of history who went on to personify all of the ripple effects from that historic moment.
You could argue that his famous statement to the press during the riots, "Can't we all just get along?", showed wisdom or poise or poignancy. But even without that comment, I think he would have played the same role in history-- a victim whose fate controlled events.

Jun. 18 2012 09:09 AM
listener

Did Rodney King "unwittingly" get intoxicated and "unwittingly" drive at high speed through Los Angeles and "unwittingly" avoid hitting anyone until he was pulled over? If he did hit somebody that night would the media narrative be drastically different?

It seems many "progressives" in the media and activism who supposedly cared about King and made careers for themselves by using him did not care enough to get him the help he needed to avoid his tragic end.

Any reportage for the victims of the Los Angeles riots or are they not compatible to the packaged "progressive" historical narrative?

Jun. 18 2012 09:08 AM
Duncan Rogers from Maplewood NJ

On January 15 2009 a US Airways flight hit a flock of geese and became completely disabled. Ordinary guy Chesley Sullenberger instantly became an historical figure for successfully ditching the plane in the Hudson River and saving the lives of many MANY people.

Jun. 18 2012 09:07 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The greatest example of people who didn't hold high positions in society changing history is, of course, the twelve Apostles.

Jun. 18 2012 07:03 AM

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