Remembering Rodney King: ‘Accidental agent of change’

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Rodney King is greeted by Firpo Carr as he arrives at EsoWon bookstore to sign copies of his new book, 'The Riot Within: My Journey From Rebellion to Redemption,' on April 30, 2012 (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Rodney King died Sunday morning at age 47. His fiancée found him at the bottom of his swimming pool and he was pronounced dead at the hospital. In 1991 King was brutally beaten by cops who had pulled him over. The beating was caught on video tape and brought King and the police into the public eye. When the officers were acquitted, Los Angeles erupted in what has become known as the “Rodney King riots.” Rev. Al Sharpton called King “a symbol of civil rights,” saying “he represented the anti-police brutality and anti-racial profiling movement of our time.”

Los Angeles civil rights attorney, Connie Rice told Warren that she saw King just three weeks ago. “He was so proud of his book. For the first time, he looked happy, he looked confident.” Listen to her memories and those of Fernando Guerra, Director of the Center of the Study of Los Angeles, below:

Below, Raphe Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State L.A. and the author of “Politics in Black and White: Race and Power in Los Angeles,” talks about Rodney King’s role in history and his tragic story.


Warren Olney spoke with King earlier this year on the 20th anniversary of the riots about his memoir, “The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption.” He told Warren, “I remember the whole incident.”