Twenty years after inadvertently finding himself in the center of a firestorm that scorched Los Angeles, Rodney King once again faced the harsh glare of public scrutiny in late May.

He was part of a panel at the California African American Museum reflecting on the events of April 29, 1992, that played a vital role in reshaping the City of Angels and the life of the then-27-year-old L.A. native.

He gave his opinion and thoughts alongside such veteran civic and religious leaders as Rev. Cecil “Chip” Murray; homeless activist General Jeff; civil rights attorney Connie Rice and cultural preservationist Charmaine Jefferson.

And he gave most people a side of Rodney King they had never seen. A reflective view of America that King, himself, said has always been there, but had been called into further clarity by his experiences.

As the world reflects on the sudden death of this reluctant statesman, it might be quite instructive to listen to King’s conversation about life and living.

“I really respect this country and the rules here,” King told the appreciative audience gathered for the special Urban Issue Breakfast Forum that focused on 20 years after the 1992 riot. They gave King a standing ovation, when he was introduced.

“It took me some time to learn them (the rules), but I’m very proud to be in this skin, to be this color, and know the experiences I had in this country being a Black male.”

King went on to stress the importance of paying homage to those who went before and made it possible for him and his generation to exist today. He also talked about the responsibility that he and others like him have to make it easier for the next generations.

“We have come a long way, and I’ve learned to respect the past,” King said . . . “I appreciate all the hard work, all the different nationalities that have died for this country.”

King said his understanding and acknowledging the importance of our history has always been a part of his life, but it had only been in the last 20 years that he understood just how important it was.
He also advised young people to know priorities–to not spend all their time with ‘the homies” or the fellas–but to spend just as much time with family. He also stressed the importance of getting comfortable with yourself.

Getting comfortable with himself is part of the reason King wrote his just published book–“The Riot Within: My Journey from Rebellion to Redemption.” Released in April by HarperOne, the book helped alleviate the frustration he felt because lawyers would not let him testify in the case, said King.

“It took 20 years to get this thing out of me,” King said of the memoir, which was published April 29 of this year with a first run of 15,000 copies. He also participated in a brief book tour promoting the work during the first part of May.