“The Riot Within” is the memoir of Rodney King — the black man from Los Angeles whose mistreatment at the hands of the LA Police was the catalyst for riots in the summer of 1992. I sought this book out because I was barely six months old when the riots occurred, and while I had heard people speak of him and the riots, I knew little about the man himself. The reading level of this book is not advanced, but that is not to say that this book was an easy read.
One of the best parts of this memoir, to me, is that the book is about so much more than just his beating at the hands of the police and the riots that came after the acquittal — it was about him, the admittedly flawed human, who had done things wrong, who loved to fish with his family, who dealt with substance use disorder, who was mistreated at the hands of lawyers and who struggled to see who he was in the greater scheme of the Civil Rights movement.
One of the things that has stayed with me is that Rodney King talked about how difficult it was for him to be shrunk down to nothing more than an adjective — “The Rodney King Riots.” Never again will I minimize this man to those four words.
Three words that describe this book: Moving. Important. Strong.
You might want to pick this book up if: You want to step outside of your own community and learn more about the lives of others. Or perhaps you just want to learn more about the man whose mistreatment was the catalyst for the 1992 LA Riots.