50 Years Before Ferguson, A Summer Of Riots Racked The U.S. : Code Switch : NPR: Fifty years ago this summer — a half-century before the protests in Ferguson, Mo. — riots broke out in seven cities in New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Pennsylvania, sparked by confrontations between black residents and their predominantly white police forces.
In Philadelphia, the violence began after dark, in late August.
"It was a hot day and just wasn't too much activity in the hood, as they say," remembers Kenneth Salaam, who was 15 years old in 1964.
He was hanging out in his North Philadelphia neighborhood with friends when police cars began zipping by one after another. He ran towards the action, blocks away from his home.
"It's crowds of people, police, and then you're hearing glass breaking, and now I know it's a riot!" says Salaam, who adds it wasn't clear at first what sparked the violence. "There were so many rumors as people were coming."