In August, in Chicago, the Democratic National Convention brought with it anti-war protests. These generated mass violence as 10,000 demonstrators were confronted by more than 20,000 police and national guardsmen. Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Tom Hayden became famous as part of the Chicago 7 who were tried for their part in the in the protests and violence.
King’s assassination sparked uprisings in as many as 100 U.S. cities. These riots and destructive fires in turn spawned protest marches that both vented the simmering anger and carried the message that the social unrest in our country had to be addressed. I clerked that summer for a large Washington, D.C., law firm and vividly recall being encouraged by the firm’s senior partners to join in a protest march along Constitution Avenue to show support for the cause of peace and reconciliation. I did march, and I felt energized by walking in the protest march because it showed by the power of the spoken word and the marching masses.
Later in the year, running on a platform of law and order, Richard Nixon captured the theme of the country and thumped Hubert Humphrey in the presidential election. That election, now enhanced with the hindsight of Watergate, certainly marked an ominous ending for a tumultuous year.
Dayton attorney Merle Wilberding is a regular contributor.