April 4, 1968

Ed and Joanne tell the story of the day of King’s death.


The Wrong Way by Jahzzar

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
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Hate is a dangerous force, and it is an injurious force, because it engines the object of hate as well as the subject of hate. It injures the hater as well as the hated. And it’s very interesting that many of the psychiatrists are saying to us now that the strange things that happen in the subconscience and many of the inner conflicts are rooted in hate. And this is why many are saying, love a parish.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Today on BackStory, the legacy of Martin Luther King on the 50th anniversary of his death.

MALE SPEAKER: King spent most of April 4, 1968, resting. Though he did not know it, the plane which had carried King from Atlanta to Memphis had been subject to a bomb threat which came in the form of a phone call to Eastern Airlines. At 5 o’clock that day, King began gathering the staff of his Southern Christian Leadership Conference to visit the home of the Reverend Billy Kyles.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Unbeknownst to King and his staff, a drifter had checked into a flophouse across the road under the false name of Eric Gault. James Earl Ray had bought a .30-06 Remington Gamemaster rifle while passing through Birmingham, Alabama, and a pair of Bushnell binoculars in Memphis. He was watching everyone who arrived and left King’s hotel room, room number 306.

MALE SPEAKER: By all accounts, King was in a good mood that afternoon. He’d come out on the balcony to say hello to saxophonist Ben Branch. King said, “Ben, make sure you play “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.” Branch replied, OK, Doc. I will. Then James Earl Ray fired.