They got him in the end. It just took twenty-one years to die. And that might be worse. Last month, Rodney King gave an interview with The Guardian. In it he said, “It was like being raped, stripped of everything, being beaten near to death there on the concrete, on the asphalt. I just knew how it felt to be a slave. I felt like I was in another world.”

Does that ever go away? Is it possible to heal from the mark the devil left? I’m talking about the agony of the soul here. King told The Guardian when he heard Trayvon Martin scream, it was the scream he gave on March 3, 1991. “It is the scream of death.” But King didn’t die. He only came so damn close that when he assailants were freed of charges, this miscarriage of justice set off riots that took new lives in its carnage.

Rory Carroll wrote the story for The Guardian on May 1. It was timed with both the twentieth anniversary of the riots as well as the release of King’s memoirs, The Riot Within. And in the story Carroll observes what is more prescient than any of us would wish to understand, ”King himself remains a forlorn figure seemingly trapped by his past, his name and his addiction to alcohol, all, in his mind, inextricably bound.”

There is no way for us to feel his pain, except to feel our own. My heart breaks with feeling for the private hell he has endured for over two decades all because he was Black in America.

The King is Dead. Long Live the King.