August 28, 1996
It was a wild day. And we’ll never forget it. Ever. We were all gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial and it was like history was repeating itself. Thirty years ago, MLK had been in this same spot with 250,000 people. Now we were here with 500,000. Twice as much heads with twice as much news coverage. And soon there’d be twice as much drama.
The plan was simple: Jesus would get up there and instead of giving a speech, a couple of us would open up with some poems about freedom and say a little something something about wanting equal rights and wanting to end all the pain, poverty, and prison sentences that we were getting slapped with. Then Jesus would come up and do his latest album. And then we’d go back home. Just like that.
But none of that happened.
Because the second Jesus got on stage, sirens blasted and there were cops storming him from every direction. Before we knew it, He was in handcuffs and getting dragged towards a squad car.
“Let Him go!” Peter shouted.
“You can’t do this!” the rest of us screamed. “This ain’t right! Let Him go!”
But nothing we did could stop them. And Jesus didn’t say anything to fight back. For once, He was completely quiet. The one time we wanted Him to step up to somebody, He didn’t. And then, when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, things went south real quick. One cop thought Jesus was trying to break free and started beating Jesus across the face with a baton. Then, while the rest of us were watching, another one pulled out his gun, aimed it at Jesus, and shot Him four times in the chest.
He went down, everything went crazy, and fights broke out all over the place. Jesus didn’t even get brought to the hospital. He lay right there in front of the Lincoln monument, still in handcuffs, and bled out until He died.
He went down like every other great black man in our century. Just like Fred Hampton. Just like Malcolm. Just like MLK. And just like with them, His death would change everything.
But unlike them, He left something behind that none of us saw coming.