When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, a wave of terror and outrage stunned the City. Black residents were so enraged by this domestic act of terrorism that they began to retaliate against the white community.
Laverne Washington, a resident of the Allen Subdivision, recalled those events: “When Dr. King was killed in ’68, ... Black citizens were hurling rocks at any white car that passed. When whites came, they would yell ‘white!’ If they were black, they would let them through.”
When Police Lieutenant Dawes, Mayor Derkowitz, and City Commissioner Rudd drove near the FAMU campus to apprehend the students, they were met with a mosotov cocktail. Commissioner Rudd remembered “sitting in the back seat, when everything seemed to explode. Glass was everywhere.”
A pop bottle had sailed through the car window, injuring Rudd’s shoulder.
Later that night, a fire erupted at the Crow's Grocery Store, in the Bloxham Heights subdivision (now Providence neighborhood).
The family business and home was engulfed in flames. The owner of the store, Travis Crow II, had jumped from the window with his wife and 13-year old son, Michael, not realizing his other other son, Travis, was still trapped in his room. Firefighters found him lying on his back between the
bed and the window. They carried him downstairs to an ambulance that took him
to TMH where he was pronounced dead.
Two local black teenagers, James Colbert and
Billy Ray Oliver, would later be arrested and convicted of first-degree murder. They both received life sentences.