'The Washington Post' Publishes Interactive Story Examining 1968 D.C. Riots

April 4 will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee.

Ahead of that date, TheWashington Post published an interactive story called “The Four Days in 1968 That Reshaped D.C.,” which explores the days following King’s death, when riots raged in the nation's capitol.

The riots resulted in the deaths of 13, 7,600 arrests and $175 million in damages, with 900 businesses damaged and 700 homes destroyed. It took nearly 30 years for some of the damage to be rebuilt, and some communities never recovered.

Using more than 2,000 declassified Secret Service reports — which are also available via links — the story creates a map of events on April 5, 6 and 7, 1968. Of the 2,000 reports, 1,027 were considered accurate enough to post to the maps.

Accompanying the maps, which highlight the destruction to various neighborhoods, are video interviews with people who were there, including Stanley Mayes, who was 18 at the time. Today, he is a political activist and lawyer and owns a leather repair shop near the area where the riots began.

Archival imagery is combined with stories from those days, creating a powerful narrative.

Dedicated maps to areas like 14th and U Streets NW, which was then known as Black Broadway and home to jazz clubs, show specific locations where violent confrontations or destruction happened.

The presentation concludes with a look at those neighborhoods in 2018, showing how the city and its people were shaped by the events in 1968.

Imagery was provided by WaPo archives and the D.C. Fire and EMS Department. Property damage information was obtained from the National Capital Planning Commission in May 1968.

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