The first anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr. could have been a day of hope and affirmation. Instead, to millions of black and white Americans last week, it meant a renewal of anxiety. Little, after all, has been done since April 4, 1968, to extirpate racism or to clothe with reality King's dream of social justice. Even so, when brief flurries of violence roiled observances of King's death, they compared in no way to the hideous rioting that swept 168 U.S. communities last year.

Along Chicago's West Side, gangs of black teenagers surged out of schoolyards on the anniversary...

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