April 5, 1968. It is the day after one of the most catastrophic moments in the history of the civil rights movement. Backstage at the Boston Garden, the mood is somber, appropriately funereal. Just 24 hours ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., the most important and beloved African American leader in America, has been assassinated, and though James Brown is booked that night for a show, nobody really wants to go onstage and play.
On April 4, 1968, the leader of the nonviolent resistance movement, Martin Luther King, was assassinated in Memphis.
On April 5, 1968, James Brown sang, and the city of Boston didn’t burn down.
This film tells the story of the pivotal role that James Brown—and that particular James Brown concert—played in the political, social and cultural history of the country, focusing on 1968, a defining year for America.
Using actual performance footage and the personal recollections of James Brown’s band members, friends like activist Reverend Al Sharpton, personal manager Charles Bobbitt, Princeton University Professor Dr. Cornel West, Boston citizens, those who attended the concert, politicians (such as former Boston Mayor Kevin White) and Newsweek’s David Gates, The Night James Brown Saved Boston tells the compelling story of an artist at the absolute peak of his powers using his artistry for the greater good.