Mourners recall the legacy that Rodney King left on the city and the country. Ted Chen reports for the NBC News on Sunday, June 17, 2012.
In many ways, Rodney King and First AME Church in South Los Angeles were tied together in the public consciousness.
This is where many people gathered and vented their frustrations after his beating, the acquittal of the officers who beat him, and the riots that changed Los Angeles.
Denise Hunter of First AME says King’s beating expanded the church into the community in an unprecedented way.
“All kinds of services that we provide to the community” came about “because of what came out of the civil unrest,” she said. “That was the genesis, the nexis, the beginning...”
King also changed the LAPD.
Commentator Jasmine Cannick says it brought the tensions between police officers and the African American community to the forefront.
“We should thank him for coming forward and sort of being the poster child of police brutality here in Los Angeles and also commend the LAPD for being willing to have those hard discussions and make those changes as well,” she said.
Milton Grimes, King’s attorney in his lawsuit against the city, said King didn't realize his full impact before he died.
“He didn't get to the point where he fully understood … the importance of his life,” Grimes said. he could have done a lot more for the world and for this country. Maybe he was coming around to that when he wrote his book.”
King’s legacy maybe his most famous words says Grimes and First AME parishioner Cerina Tolbert, a daycare provider who always passes on those words to the children she cares for.
“We always remember those words, ‘Can we just all get along?,’” said Tolbert. “I teach the children how to get along. I care for children of all nationalities -- Spanish, Caucasian … all walks of life,” she said.