Dr. Kings Death, What Did You Learn?

MLK Crowdby Lawrence A. Robinson
On April 4,1968, I was a freshman at Florida A & M University. At about 6:30 PM , I was in my 4th floor dorm room studying. My roommate and long time friend, Samuel Brookins, burst into the room and said, " They killed Dr. King, let's go get 'em."

I sat there dumb founded for a few minutes asking the same questions over and over again not understanding what or why this was happening. There was a complete emptiness of my insides, like I was a hollow being and my guts ripped out of me. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to think.

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Sam said, "Come on, we gonna shut this M***** F***** down."

We went down stairs and there was the entire student body of about 5,000 students on the 'yard' and in front of the 'sub' and all over the quadrangle. They were shouting and making noise but unorganized.

It was starting to get dark. Someone yelled. "They brought in tanks and they are firing gas canisters onto the campus. Those nasty dogs, let's go."

So we all went down by the hospital. The plan was to throw rocks at the tanks but we never got organized enough to do that, and we didn't have any rocks and I never saw a tank.

By now, it was getting dark. They shot a tear gas canister which landed up near the hospital. I decided to go down the hill and get the canister for a keep sake so that later in life I could prove my involvement in the Tallahassee Riot. I went down the hill to the parking lot of the FAMU Hospital. I could see the gas in the twilight but I didn't see the canister.

All of a sudden another canister exploded and I couldn't see anything. I heard someone say," Go get that fool from down there." Next thing I know, people were helping me back up the hill.

I don't know where Sam was at this point, so I just followed the crowd. We decided to break into the FAMU ROTC building to get rifles. When we got there, there was a Staff Sergeant at the door. He said, 'You idiots should know that these are training weapons and they don't have firing pins. Go back to your dorms before you get yourselves killed." So we all turned around and went away.

There were very few non-Black students on FAMU campus then. They were told to stay indoors. Those who ventured out and were driving around was advised to keep the lights on in their cars so that they could be recognized and not harmed. Some of those student cars were damaged anyway.

As it got later into the evening, the crowd thinned out. I went back to my room and the next day went home and stayed for a week.

So now, 46 years later and I am thinking about that day and that week. What did I learn from that experience? One lesson I learned was that of the phenomena called 'crowd mentality.'

In order to move forward, we must move as a group, a crowd. We must be organized. In order to continue the work that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. started, we must understand the crown mentality, how it works and how to use it to our best advantage. Otherwise, we will stay unorganized, divided and will always be conquered.


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