The political and ideological divide ran deep and wide in the country pitting friends, coworkers, and families against each other.

Scenes of violence and assassination streamed into homes – looting, arson, police and protesters toe to toe in the streets – as Democrats and Republicans held nominating conventions and the nation prepared for the worst in the middle of a summer that seemed ready to explode.

If the scenario sounds familiar, its not only because it describes the present, its because we’ve seen it before – in the summer of 1968.

The violence played out that summer on the streets of Baltimore, Kansas City, and Chicago – and history tells us how it ended.

A law and order Republican candidate was elected to negotiate an end to a long, unpopular war, and a chief executive who did not believe the rule of law applied to the president eventually resigned in disgrace after years of Congressional investigations.

Americans are as divided, angry, and fearful five decades later as they were in that summer of 1968, and even though the threat is no longer the spread of communism and troops are not deployed to the jungles of Vietnam, the country feels the same anxiety and yearning for a real leader as we face the spread of Islamic jihad and send American boots to the deserts of Iraq and the hills of Afghanistan.

Now, after a peaceful protest march in Dallas ended in a premeditated attack on police by a black who said he wanted to kill white cops, the leader of a group “liked” by the assassin has declared “all out war” and launched a plan to take over five states in the South as reparations for slavery.

Babu Omowale is higher-up in the People’s New Black Panther Party – a group that chanted, “Oink, oink; bang, bang” and “the only good pig is a pig that’s dead” at an Austin, Texas rally last year – issued a warning of attacks on police stations in the coming days, and proposed that blacks claim Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia to form a new “Black Nation” as reparations for slavery.

“The endgame is our own government in a nation within a nation,” Omowale said in an interview on Sunday while Americans mourned – and worried about what might come next.

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