Washington DC Riots: Analyzed

Article 1: Lessons of the Riots by William Raspberry

This article, written by William Raspberry of the Washington Post, demonstrates the reasoning behind the Washington DC riots, and what events had taken place.  He begins by explaining how the death of Dr. King sparked outrage in Washington DC, where it was mainly about race.  However, much of the damage was not caused on people, but to buildings, burning the city and looting stores.  Although it destroyed much of the areas that the riots happened, it did force the officials to rebuild the buildings and economy.  Raspberry claims that even though the city is now repaired, there is still segregation in churches, and interracial socializing has barely increased.  He claims that the riots ‘didn’t work’, and was solely an, ‘expression of profound dissatisfaction’ (Raspberry, 1988).  The sources used in this article are first hand accounts of the riots.

Article 2: In Clashes, a Hispanic Agenda Enters: Violence by a minority group catches many by surprise by R.W. Apple Jr.

Written by R.W. Apple Jr. In Washington Talk, this article describes the affect the Hispanic community felt from the riots.  The perspective is interesting, because the author describes how African Americans were affected, but then reveals the other side of the story according the the hispanic population.  Even though DC is at a 7% hispanic population, when the article was written there were no Hispanic senators.  Along with that, the author claims that much of the Hispanic population in the United States are illegal, and many don’t speak english.  The author provides census data from the U.S. Census Bureau, stating that 22 million people of Hispanic descent are living in the United States, however they are not represented the same as Caucasian or African Americans.

To compare and Contrast these articles, both give a general overview of the Washington DC riots.  They explain that the death of Dr. Martin Luther King sparked an outrage in DC, where African Americans angrily looted stores and burned down buildings.  However, the first article focuses mainly on African Americans as a minority.  He explains that although the riots happened intentionally, they were not to spark change.  They were a reaction to the death of Dr. King.  However, the second article was mainly about Hispanics, and how they are suffering just as much as the African American community in the country.

Both of these articles give a great summary of what happened during the riots, and what caused them.  The first article had photographs which added to the experience of reading it.  The second one confused me.  I understood that the author was claiming that although a racial minority is not just African Americans, I didn’t know why he was talking about these riots in particular and trying to relate it to Hispanics in the United States.  But, I do understand how the author was relating the civil rights movement to the civil rights of Hispanics which seem almost non-existent

Washington DC Riots Zotero.


By R.W. APPLE Jr.Special to The New York Times. “In Clashes, a Hispanic Agenda Enters.”         New York Times (1923-Current File). May 9, 1991. 108730930. ProQuest Historical         Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010).

Sullivan, Andrew. “What a Riot.” The New Republic, May 27, 1991. 212855087; 00826543. ABI/INFORM Complete; ProQuest Research Library.


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