It’s 2012 and some TV channels are looking back at 1992 and commemorating the 20th-Anniversary of the not guilty verdict in the Rodney King trial. In 1992,the first President Bush left office, and Bill Clinton was elected president. The Navy confronted the Tail Hook scandal.
1992: I was much younger then, when the not guilty verdict, which still boggles my mind, came down. The incident left people glued to their TVs, and dumb founded. There was no Facebook; the internet was an infant, experimental thing. If you had a cell phone, you had money. It was the first time that such an attack, by police officers had been recorded and would be used in a trial. It’s difficult to remember those images and the feelings that they stirred.
During the uprising, Spike Lee & Co. were in the middle of editing his opus “Malcolm X,” and flying to Los Angeles for a meeting with executives at Warner Brothers; Los Angeles was an inferno in a few morose ways.
1991: An irony is that, just one year prior, in 1991, America saw a boon of black-made movies released. It was more of those than were released during the whole of the 1980s, when Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby helped to rule entertainment. Those relative spots of success in entertainment served as notable counterpoints to tragic, vicious pummeling of Mr. King.
2012: Twenty years later, our first-term Kenyan-American president vies for a second one, and above all, after the economy, another opportunity to guide America toward that more perfect union. America and the world expected, unjustly, that his charisma and oratory would herald a Camelot-like era; one, which would rid us of arguably inevitable color biases and prejudices.
And, yet, a teenager, Trayvon Martin, from Sanford, FL, is dead because George Zimmerman felt threatened. This weighs on, and divides our society and psyches. The pummeling of Rodney King, the trial and not-guilty verdict, which followed, did too.
Optimism? Another Rodney King tragedy could occur this year; some people would handily argue that Mr. Martin’s killing is that one.
My god: what 20 years can wreak, and remind us of?