“The year before, Newark, New Jersey, had been occupied by nearly lily-white units of the National Guard, sent there to quell a four-day rebellion in which 26 Blacks were killed. The Guardsmen behaved like an Army of White Vengeance, joining the racist cops in savaging Black people and shooting up businesses displaying “Black-owned” and “Soul Brother” signs on the Springfield Avenue thoroughfare.
However, the 82nd Airborne Division was a different social organism, entirely; our ranks were 60 percent Black, and we had been transformed. All of us (at least in my company) were aware of what had happened in Newark. As far as the Black troops were concerned, our division had only one mission in Washington, DC: to make sure the white soldiers — especially the mostly white military police — did no harm to the Black population.
And they did not dare.
Not one Black citizen of Washington was hurt by a soldier of the 82nd Airborne division — or, to my knowledge, even verbally abused — during the occupation.”
Read the full article: MLK: A Snap Shot in Time | Black Agenda Report