In the Narrows of the 1960s Black Rioting

Document Type



Published by Sage Publications, Inc. in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, volume 30 issue 1, 1986. Bryant users may access this article here.


Sage Publications, Inc.

Publication Source

Journal of Conflict Resolution


This article develops the hypothesis that the underlying processes generating the 1960s black rioting differed by time frame. More specifically, the idea is developed that local situations of blacks mattered least during the rioting explosion immediately following the assassination of Martin Luther King. To test this hypothesis, two subpopulations of cities were defined: those experiencing black rioting during April 1968 (N = 130), and those that had riots outside of April 1968 (N = 267). Indicators of the local situations of blacks (e.g., racial inequality) were then regressed on riot severity measurements developed for each subpopulation of cities. The results of this and other analyses supported the basic hypothesis of a rupture in the process generating riot activity immediately after the murder of King. These results are interpreted as fitting a common historical pattern of ebbs and peaks during eras of collective violence, wherein peaks reflect supralocal levels of an aggrieved group's collective consciousness and rage.