Kansas City woman describes 'apocalyptic' 1968 riot

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sharon Sanders Brooks takes us back, reading a poem she wrote 50 years ago about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Brooks lived in Washington D.C. during that time.

“Sitting in the living room with the big floor model black and white television and the news coming on and there was a picture of a black man on television and something had happened to him,” Brooks said.

Following Dr. King’s death, although just in the 3rd grade, she remembers the riots that erupted vividly.

“You could see the smoke billowing up from the 14th Street corridor and this went on all night,” Brooks said. “All you heard was the fire engines going and going, the sirens going,” Brooks said.

The city was on lockdown.

“It was apocalyptic,” she said. “The businesses they were burned. The structure was there but the inner sides of the structure were gone.”

She shares newspapers her mother collected from that time and her own writings, and also her classmates’.

Now 50 years later, she says history is repeating itself in certain aspects.

“Poverty, the lack of economic inequality, he talked about military and war, the very issues that are very paramount today,” Brooks said.

Brooks says it inspires her to be actively involved in her community to continue to inspire change right here in Kansas City.

On Friday, there will be an MLK commemoration march and rally starting at 5:30 p.m. at Victorious Life Church at 3400 Paseo.

The march will end at 27th and Paseo following a rally.

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