In 1991, Rodney King was just another young, Black man living in Los Angeles – a product of the early Hip-Hop era who had experienced hard times growing up like so many of his peers.
In the wee hours of March 3, 1991, King’s life changed forever. Following a night of heavy drinking with a friend, and after being pursued in a high-speed chase by the California Highway Patrol, he was pulled over and was to be placed under arrest.
What happened next is videotaped history.
Afterwards, the rioting and flames that engulfed L.A. on April 29, 1992, after the shocking acquittal of the police who brutalized him, changed that city and the world forever. It’s been 20 years since then, and now King is read to tell his story, “in his own words”, as he puts it.
Read a snippet of our interview with Rodney King, and check below it for a free, sneak peek chapter from his new book, “The Riot Within”:
AllHipHop.com: So, right off the bat, I know you’re promoting a book right now called “The Riot Within”. I wanted to ask you about the title – is this more of a personal book about your life, or does it make parallels to the incidents from 20 years ago?
Rodney King: Yes, it’s both – about my life and the incident 20 years ago also.
AllHipHop.com: So, does it tell us about Rodney King before the incident? Will we get a sense of you and your childhood, things like that?
Rodney King: Yeah, it does go into my childhood…
AllHipHop.com: OK, “The Riot Within” kinda sounds like you're still in some internal turmoil, Rodney. Why are you releasing the book now – other than the obvious reason that we’re here at the 20th anniversary?
Rodney King: Because it’s time. It’s been 20 years, and with all of the things that’s going on today, I thought that it would be a good time for it to come out. You know, and just to show that we can all get to know each other better through reading…reading my book and seeing what type of person I am, how I was raised, where I come from, and what kind of background this, this particular American Negro has been through.
And, also to show how race relations can improve. People can get to know me through my book, you know what I mean? Maybe it will change someone’s mind about how they look at another person. Maybe another person somewhere down the road won’t get stereotyped – just because he’s Black.
It’s just a wonderful thing for me to be alive and to even be able to put a book out like this after going through a police brutality case. Twenty, 30, 40, 50 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have been alive to even write a book, so it’s a good thing that I’m not living in the ‘30s or ‘40s, and time has moved on.
There are Civil Rights people who came before me who died for our rights back in the day. They made room for me to even sit down and be able to write a book. All of the work they did back in the day – they didn’t die in vain for it. I am a survivor of that brutality, and that police beating back then, and truthfully, Civil Rights Movement made a way for me, and made it so I can write a book and have a story, so people can read about me – in my own words.
AllHipHop.com: It’s really good to hear that there are some lessons in it that you can impart to others…
Come back for more of our emotional interview with Rodney King later this week, as we pause to remember the 20th anniversary of the L.A. Riots. "The Riot Within" is available on Amazon or in stores now.