Reflections on the 48th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination from George Payne

Reflections on the 48th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination from George Payne


Display case at the Nazareth College Center for Spirituality [Provided by George Payne]

George Payne, Founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International, has written before about Martin Luther King and President Obama’s use of his rhetoric. On the 48th Anniversary of King’s death, George looks at the often overlooked 1999 civil suit won by the King family. (For more on George, see at end.)

We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.
– Coretta Scott King
King Family Press Conference, December 9th, 1999
Did you Know

Provided by George Payne

Did you know that in 1999 a jury in a civil suit brought by the family of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decided that a retired Memphis cafe owner was part of a conspiracy in the 1968 killing of Dr. King? Or that the jury also implicated more than one U.S. governmental agency in the shooting? In fact, during the trial (which received almost no media attention) the legal team representing the King family presented the following startling revelations:

• US 111th Military Intelligence Group were at Dr. King’s location during the assassination.
• 20th Special Forces Group had an 8-man sniper team at the assassination location on that day.
• Usual Memphis Police special body guards were advised they “weren’t needed” on the day of the assassination.
• Regular and constant police protection for Dr. King was removed from protecting Dr. King an hour before the assassination.
• Military Intelligence set-up photographers on a roof of a fire station with a clear view to Dr. King’s balcony.
• Dr. King’s room was changed from a secure 1st-floor room to an exposed balcony room.
• Memphis police ordered the scene where multiple witnesses reported as the source of shooting cut down of their bushes that would have hid a sniper.
• Along with sanitizing a crime scene, police abandoned investigative procedure to interview witnesses who lived by the scene of the shooting.
• The rifle Mr. James Earl Ray delivered was not matched to the bullet that killed Dr. King, and was not sighted to accurately shoot.


The parking lot of the motel in Memphis [Provided by George Payne]

After four weeks of testimony and one hour of deliberation, the jury in the wrongful-death case found that Loyd Jowers as well as “others, including governmental agencies” had been part of a conspiracy. The jury awarded the King family the damages they had sought: $100, which the family donated to charity.The New York Times reported that the King family had long questioned Mr. Ray’s conviction and hoped the suit would change the legal and historical record of the assassination.”This is a vindication for us,” said Dexter King, the youngest son of Dr. King.

Truth at Last

Provided by George Payne

What about James Earl Ray? After being transferred from a maximum security prison hospital, he died at the Columbia Nashville Memorial Hospital in Nashville on April 23, 1998, at the age of 70, from complications related to Kidney disease and liver failure caused by hepatitis C. Ray was cremated and his ashes were flown to Ireland, the home of his family’s ancestors. Ten years later, Ray’s other brother, John Larry Ray, co-authored a book with Lyndon Barsten, titled Truth At Last: The Untold Story Behind James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. revealing what the former author knew about the assassination.

Today is April 4, 2016. It has been 48 years since the murder of America’s greatest citizen yet still the truth has been covered up. There can be no peace without justice. Until the nation is able to come to terms with the facts of MLK’s assassination, our country will not be able to honor Dr. King’s legacy with any degree of sincerity.

Service projects are wonderful. Candlelight vigils are beautiful. Concerts and fundraisers are inspiring. I am sure that Dr. King would be pleased with all of these positive actions to help build the “Beloved Community.” However, until we are able to come to terms with the real circumstances of his murder, our society will not be capable of meeting its’ most severe challenges head on. For what democracy allows its’ military to openly take out a man like King without any accountability whatsoever?

King once said:

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

One of the ways that unarmed truth will have the final word is if we refuse to accept the official narrative of what happened on April 4, 1968 on that fateful afternoon in Memphis. Until this unspeakable crime is finally unmasked for being what it is – namely, a political assassination ordered at the highest levels of our government –  the starless midnight of racism and war will continue to engulf King’s dream in an empty chasm of hopeless darkness.



About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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