It’s a day that’s impossible to forget: the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered outside his hotel room in Memphis, Tenn.
In Washington, D.C., the news set off a riot that lasted six days. It’s believed the first brick was thrown into a People’s drug store on the corner of 14th and U.
Matthew Owens was 26 years old when King was shot. He’d been a long time admirer. He still remembers the shock and disappointment he felt when he heard the news.
“At the time my mind just went blank," he said.
Owens said he participated in the riots.
“They were mad. They just wanted revenge," he said.
Owens described watching his neighborhood descend into chaos.
“There was looting all night, cars were burning, police were chasing people all over the place. The streets were still crowded with the smoke still going. You could smell some bodies burning," said Owens.
Another U street neighbor, Ta Shabazz, decided to retreat from the violence in the arms of his future wife as buildings burned around them.
Fifty years later Shabazz said he appreciates King’s words and mission more now, than he could as a 19-year-old man.
“Fifty years later are things better? Yeah, to a degree. I’ve grown to see the wisdom in being patient, but still having fight—when I say man of peace he wasn’t a coward or anything. So that’s wisdom. You learn that as you grow older," said Shabazz