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History of the Martin Luther King Assassination
Episode 6017th April 2023 • Talk With History: Discover Your History Road Trip • Scott and Jenn of Walk with History
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Living in Memphis, Tennessee for 3 years taught us more than we expected about Civil Rights history.

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr., an American civil rights leader, was assassinated while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The assassination of King was a shock to the nation and led to widespread outrage and protests.

In the days following King's assassination, over 100 cities in the United States experienced riots, looting, and violence. The National Guard was called in to restore order in many of these cities.

King's assassination also led to a renewed sense of urgency in the civil rights movement. Many activists redoubled their efforts to end segregation and discrimination, and King's message of nonviolent resistance continued to inspire and motivate people around the world.

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🎥 Full video from Memphis, TN

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Transcripts

Scott:

it was warmer than normal on April 3rd, 1968, and a crowd was gathering in

Scott:

the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee.

Scott:

Two months prior.

Scott:

There had been strikes happening in Memphis, yet on this fateful

Scott:

Wednesday night, locals had gathered to hear a speech from civil

Scott:

rights leaders around the country.

Scott:

As one of these leaders stepped up to the podium, the murmurs quieted, and

Scott:

the preacher turned activist, gave his thanks to the speaker before him,

Scott:

and then this ordained minister said,

Martin Luther King Jr.:

Something is happening in Memphis.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

Something is happening in our world,

Martin Luther King Jr.:

and you know, if I was standing.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

At the beginning of time with the possibility of taking a kind of

Martin Luther King Jr.:

general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now,

Martin Luther King Jr.:

and the Almighty said to me, Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live?

Martin Luther King Jr.:

I would go on even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

But I wouldn't stop there.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

But I wouldn't stop there.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

I would come on up even to 1863 and watch a vacillating president by

Martin Luther King Jr.:

the name of Abraham Lincoln finally.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

Come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation,

Martin Luther King Jr.:

but I wouldn't stop there.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

Strangely enough, I would turn to the almighty.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

And say, if you allow me to live just a few years in the second half

Martin Luther King Jr.:

of the 20th century, I will be happy

Martin Luther King Jr.:

Now.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

That's a strange statement to make because the world is all messed up.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

The nation is sick.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

Trouble is in the land.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

Confusion all around.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

That's a strange statement,

Martin Luther King Jr.:

but I know somehow that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars

Martin Luther King Jr.:

The masses of people arising up and wherever they are

Martin Luther King Jr.:

the cry is always the same.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

We want to be free.

Scott:

That man was Martin Luther King and that mountaintop speech would be his last.

Scott:

Welcome to Talk with History I am your host Scott, here with

Scott:

my wife and historian Jen.

Scott:

Hello.

Scott:

On this podcast, we give you insights to our history inspired world travels

Scott:

YouTube channel journey, and examine history through deeper conversations

Scott:

with the curious, the explorers, and the history lovers out there.

Scott:

Now before we get into our main topic, I wanna list, ask our listeners and watchers

Scott:

to give us reviews on Apple Podcasts.

Scott:

It really does help us grow we've crossed 10,000 subscribers recently.

Scott:

Yes, we have.

Scott:

We're already happy about that history channel.

Scott:

You better watch out because you know, we just gotta add a

Scott:

couple zeros on the end of that.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And then.

Scott:

Couple more after that to catch.

Scott:

We're a threat to catch up to you.

Scott:

So just, I keep warning them one day it's gonna happen.

Scott:

. Jenn: So today is April 4th

Scott:

of the assassination of Dr.

Scott:

Martin Luther King.

Scott:

That's right.

Scott:

In Memphis, Tennessee.

Scott:

Now we did a video on it.

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

So let's, so why don't we tell our folks about the video and about us

Scott:

living out there, and let's give us

Jenn:

some background here.

Jenn:

So we did a video.

Jenn:

A while ago.

Jenn:

Yeah, it was like over a year ago.

Jenn:

Over a year ago.

Jenn:

And I so most people who follow our channel know my master's degree

Jenn:

was from the University of Memphis.

Jenn:

So it's hard, I would say you can't even live in Memphis without being

Jenn:

exposed to the history of Memphis.

Jenn:

And one of the big things is the assassination of Doc Martha Luther King in

Jenn:

Memphis, Tennessee at the Lorraine Motel.

Jenn:

Most people will not even know that he was assassinated in Memphis.

Jenn:

They'll know he was assassinated, but I don't even think we even knew

Jenn:

until we moved there that it was in Memphis, Tennessee and there's a whole.

Jenn:

Story about why he is in Memphis and what's going on in Memphis

Jenn:

and what the violence is about.

Jenn:

And we learned all, I learned all of that.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And we happened to live there at the time, in 2018 when it was the 50th

Jenn:

anniversary of his assassination.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And

Scott:

this was before the channel?

Scott:

This was before Walk with History.

Scott:

Was even a thing.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

You know, this was long before that, right?

Scott:

You the Yes.

Scott:

The history fan.

Scott:

And I think you had started your

Jenn:

graduate work.

Jenn:

I started my graduate work.

Jenn:

So that day we had done an unveiling of a marker around Nathan Bedford Forest.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

There is a marker where his business, his slave trade, his human

Jenn:

trafficking business was in back of a calvary church in Oh, interesting.

Jenn:

Memphis, Tennessee.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And that marker just.

Jenn:

It was put up in the sixties and it says, you know, Nathan Bedford

Jenn:

Forest, the great hero of Memphis.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

This is where his business was.

Jenn:

And so on that day, we unveiled another marker to, to be alongside that one.

Jenn:

Cause we're not gonna take that one down.

Jenn:

That said, His business was, yeah, slave Trading.

Jenn:

Trading.

Jenn:

Oh, interesting.

Jenn:

People he sold so many people's lives were torn apart.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So that's why you were out in that area?

Jenn:

That's why I was on that area.

Jenn:

Okay.

Jenn:

And it was part of the celebration.

Jenn:

I forgot that.

Jenn:

And so then after that, I had walked down the street.

Jenn:

From Calvary Church to the Lorraine Motel, and I got there about four o'clock.

Jenn:

Martin Luther King was assassinated, 6:01 PM and they were gonna ring the bell.

Jenn:

They've been gonna put the wreath up.

Jenn:

So I sit in the lawn, which is right across from the Lorraine

Jenn:

Motel, and I talked to people and I asked people, why are you here?

Jenn:

What did Martin Luther King mean to you?

Jenn:

I just had a lot of questions and I watched it and I filmed

Jenn:

it and it's on Instagram.

Jenn:

Yep.

Jenn:

If you'd like to

Scott:

see it right now.

Scott:

Yep.

Scott:

If I remember correctly, this is one of those things that

Scott:

we knew a little bit about.

Scott:

But you had learned a pretty significant amount during your graduate

Scott:

work, and also just being out there talking to the people out there

Scott:

and going through the museum more.

Scott:

So walk us

Jenn:

through that a little bit.

Jenn:

So why is Dr.

Jenn:

Martin Luther King in Memphis to begin with?

Jenn:

He's not from Memphis, he's not buried in Memphis.

Jenn:

He's buried in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jenn:

That's where he's from.

Jenn:

So why is he in Memphis, Tennessee?

Jenn:

So what is going on?

Jenn:

And we learned this a lot living there is, it's a very racially

Jenn:

charged, segregated area.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Even today they still feel a lot of that.

Jenn:

At the time it was definitely Jim Crow.

Jenn:

Racially segregated.

Jenn:

And the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King was staying was a black motel.

Jenn:

So you were separated based on race.

Jenn:

And the Lorraine Motel was actually like in the Green book,

Jenn:

like if the actual travel book.

Jenn:

And it was at na, it was the upscale black motel.

Jenn:

And we talk about how Nat King Cole stayed there and yeah, Joe Gibson stayed there.

Jenn:

And so Martin Luther King, when, if he would visit Memphis would stay there.

Jenn:

And at the time in Memphis, you get a lot of social unrest because the

Jenn:

sanitation strike is happening in Memphis.

Jenn:

I didn't even know what that was.

Jenn:

So what?

Jenn:

Until I moved to Memphis.

Jenn:

What was the sanitation strike?

Jenn:

So what is happening is in February 1st, 1968.

Jenn:

Two men Ethel Cole and Robert Walker are killed by a garbage

Jenn:

truck and their garbage workers and garbage trucks are segregated.

Jenn:

Even garbage workers are segregated where the white workers would drive the

Jenn:

truck and the black workers had to like, sit in the back where the garbage went.

Jenn:

Oh, wow.

Jenn:

And ride along.

Jenn:

They climbed in the back of the truck cuz it was raining and the

Jenn:

truck malfunctioned and killed them.

Jenn:

Pulled them into the truck and killed them.

Jenn:

Oh geez.

Jenn:

And that was like enough for the African American workers, sanitation

Jenn:

workers to say, that's enough.

Jenn:

We're going on strike.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

We can't do this.

Jenn:

It's not safe.

Jenn:

It's not safe.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And it's.

Jenn:

It wasn't like they were gonna even acknowledge that death

Jenn:

and the unsafe conditions.

Jenn:

Not only that, they're not getting paid the same amount, right?

Jenn:

They're not getting uniforms.

Jenn:

They're not allowed to have days off.

Jenn:

They're not allowed to call in sick.

Jenn:

They're not allowed to come in late.

Jenn:

Like they're not allow allowed.

Jenn:

So that was like the last straw.

Jenn:

It was the last straw.

Jenn:

So they all worked, walked off the.

Jenn:

And you can imagine if garbage workers were walking off the

Jenn:

job in the big city of Memphis.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

What it's getting like in the city.

Jenn:

Oh man.

Jenn:

So they walk off the job February 1st, and so the strike really

Jenn:

takes place from February 12th.

Jenn:

And it's gonna end on April 16th.

Jenn:

So Martin Luther King comes to Memphis in support of this strike

Jenn:

because it's getting a lot of recognition nationally, right?

Jenn:

And he comes there in March, the end of March 28th, and he

Jenn:

wants to have a demonstration.

Jenn:

What happens is this a lot of.

Jenn:

High school kids come to this demonstration, oh, and they start to

Jenn:

get violent and they start to loot.

Jenn:

And so king leaves because he calls for nonviolent.

Jenn:

So he leaves, he and a 16 year old kid is killed.

Jenn:

He is seen carrying a television by a police officer.

Jenn:

There are reports, he put the television down, the police officer shoots him

Jenn:

right in the chest and kills him.

Jenn:

So King doesn't wanna be associated with that, doesn't wanna be

Jenn:

associated with that death.

Jenn:

But he just, but he doesn't wanna be a quitter.

Jenn:

So he wants to come back and finish what he

Scott:

started.

Scott:

So was this was like, like a week before or just a couple

Jenn:

days before?

Jenn:

So it's March 28th.

Jenn:

Okay.

Jenn:

And his name was just a couple days.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Larry Payne, 16 years old.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

He's buried April 2nd.

Jenn:

And you can imagine he gives, I have seen the mountaintop teach April 3rd on

Jenn:

April 3rd, so he gets there April 3rd.

Jenn:

Now, the sanitation strike, you might know if you have seen those.

Jenn:

I am a man posters.

Jenn:

Those I am a man.

Jenn:

Posters come from the sanitation strike.

Jenn:

And this is a way again, of.

Jenn:

Showing people like we are being segregated, we're being

Jenn:

treated differently just based on the color of our skin, right?

Jenn:

We're doing the same job.

Jenn:

We're both garbage workers.

Jenn:

We're both laborers.

Jenn:

We both deserve to be respected.

Jenn:

And you see a white person in this picture, What the sanitation

Jenn:

strike gets even through Dr.

Jenn:

Martin Luther King is a lot of union backing from a around the nation.

Jenn:

Oh, interesting.

Jenn:

So you get like the Italian unions.

Jenn:

Sure.

Jenn:

You get the Polish Union, they come down because they also feel like if we can

Jenn:

support this strike it reinforces our

Scott:

message.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

It it reinforces the whole union, a lot of the union mentality.

Scott:

Yes.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So Martin Luther King comes back to Memphis.

Jenn:

He had left Memphis.

Jenn:

Larry Payne was killed.

Jenn:

He had come back to Memphis.

Jenn:

He's not a quitter.

Jenn:

I'm gonna do this non-violent march, but the judge has put an injunction

Jenn:

on Memphis since that boy was killed.

Jenn:

There will be no demonstrations.

Jenn:

So Martin Luther King has come here to meet with the judge

Jenn:

to get that injunction lifted.

Jenn:

So on April 3rd, He's in his hotel.

Jenn:

He's in room with 3 0 6 in the Lorraine Motel, and there was talk that he might

Jenn:

go to the Church of God in Christ.

Scott:

It's not Did, did you say like he wasn't feeling

Jenn:

well?

Jenn:

He wasn't.

Jenn:

And he didn't really wanna go and it was a really rainy, rainy

Scott:

night.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

And I looked it up.

Scott:

It actually was like warmer than normal.

Scott:

Which your fear in Memphis in the South, that just means

Scott:

it was like nice and humid.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Summer came

Jenn:

early.

Jenn:

Yeah, and it was stormy.

Jenn:

And it's not close.

Jenn:

Like you said, if you saw on our video, it's not like they're

Jenn:

right down the street from each other, you'd have to take a car.

Jenn:

It's a good mile, two miles away.

Jenn:

So he gets a call from one of the people at the Church of

Jenn:

God in Christ, and he's it's.

Jenn:

Packed.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

There's 2000 people here.

Jenn:

There's 2000 people there.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And they have braved the storms and they have worn their Sunday best.

Jenn:

And they are sitting in these seats.

Jenn:

They're

Scott:

fanning themselves.

Scott:

So did they know, did they come specifically to see Martin Luther King?

Scott:

Was he like the

Jenn:

headliner essentially?

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

They had heard he might come, if he comes to town, he might come here and

Scott:

talk.

Scott:

That kind of thing.

Scott:

He had just tried to.

Scott:

Few days prior.

Scott:

So they would know that he was in the area?

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

Okay.

Jenn:

So that makes sense.

Jenn:

So he's okay, I'll come down.

Jenn:

And what's interesting about the I have seen the mountaintop

Jenn:

speech and I have seen the speech.

Jenn:

It is it looks like it's been written quickly and revisioned a lot

Scott:

cross down.

Scott:

It's actually very good.

Scott:

I was reading through it and I quoted it in the intro.

Scott:

And I summarized some parts of it just to make it a little bit shorter.

Scott:

But it's, he's a fantastic speaker.

Scott:

He's a pastor.

Scott:

He's a pastor.

Scott:

You can tell he knows his craft, right?

Scott:

He knows his craft.

Scott:

Even just reading it, I was like, oh yeah.

Scott:

This is really good.

Scott:

I encourage you to go out and take a just Google that.

Scott:

I haven't seen the mountaintop speech.

Scott:

Cuz even just reading through it, I was like, Man, even just reading

Jenn:

it.

Jenn:

This is good.

Jenn:

It's good.

Jenn:

And the University of Memphis had it on loan In the library.

Jenn:

Lobby.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So I got to see it and just all the writing and the revisions.

Jenn:

That's cool.

Jenn:

But he had a message and he's very good at Ebbing and flowing.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

With the message.

Jenn:

So he comes to the Church of God in Christ.

Jenn:

He delivers, I have seen the mountaintop speech.

Jenn:

That speech is gonna have so much more impact after he's killed.

Jenn:

The next day.

Jenn:

Yeah, the next day.

Jenn:

Because it's so foreboding.

Jenn:

Because

Scott:

one of his lines is

Jenn:

You know, I may not get there with you.

Jenn:

I may not get there with you, but that's okay.

Jenn:

You know?

Jenn:

It was crazy.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

That doesn't matter to me now.

Jenn:

Like it sounds like he like knew it's.

Jenn:

Did someone call him ahead of time?

Jenn:

It's like he, he knew it's eerie.

Jenn:

It,

Scott:

it really is.

Scott:

And I remember when I was making the video right, and if, I'm sure

Scott:

anybody watching this live stream or anybody that watches his slater has

Scott:

probably seen snippets of the speech.

Scott:

But go and find, you know, a longer clip of the speech and

Scott:

it really just is so powerful.

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

When, and especially with the knowledge now.

Scott:

That this is his last speech.

Scott:

His last speech.

Scott:

Less than 24 hours later, he's going to,

Jenn:

he's gonna get shot.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And I don't think you could deliver a better speech.

Jenn:

No.

Jenn:

It's a, it's really is amazing.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So the next day they're going to meet with the judge left the injunction.

Jenn:

They have met with him.

Jenn:

The judge has been supposed to, Lift it the next day.

Jenn:

So he would probably do the march on April 5th,

Scott:

and he even brings it up in his speech.

Scott:

He says things like that, we're not gonna let any injunction stop us.

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

So he's there addressing.

Scott:

All these things that are going on.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

He's not there just giving a sermon.

Scott:

He's there addressing the strike and the injunction and all the stuff, and

Jenn:

he's using, if you've l he's talking about the constitution.

Jenn:

Yep.

Jenn:

So he's talking about I heard, I read somewhere that you're allowed to protest.

Jenn:

I read somewhere You're allowed freedom of assembly.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

Somewhere I read the Freedom of Speech.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

Yes, somewhere.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

I read of the Freedom of press somewhere.

Martin Luther King Jr.:

I read that The Greatness of America is the right to protest for right.

Jenn:

So he's definitely like pushing that they're going to have a peaceful protest.

Jenn:

And so the next day, April 4th.

Jenn:

They meet with the judge.

Jenn:

The injunctions supposed to be lifted the next day.

Jenn:

Yep.

Jenn:

And then it's dinner time.

Jenn:

Comes out on the balcony.

Jenn:

He's speaking to a couple gentlemen.

Jenn:

Of course.

Jenn:

You think about it.

Jenn:

He's going to a church for dinner.

Jenn:

The ladies had brought in dinner.

Scott:

So is that, so did he have plans to go out in

Jenn:

That evening?

Jenn:

Yeah, he was, he's speaking to someone in the parking lot telling

Jenn:

them, okay, let's get ready.

Jenn:

We'll go.

Jenn:

And he asks them, make sure they play this hymn that I like.

Jenn:

Make sure the ladies there play this hym.

Jenn:

I really like this.

Jenn:

Interesting, this Hym.

Jenn:

So he's telling them what hymn he wants them to play.

Jenn:

Wow.

Jenn:

And most people don't know.

Jenn:

He actually came out to smoke a cigarette because Martin

Jenn:

Luther King was also a smoker.

Jenn:

Although you don't see many pictures or know that about him.

Jenn:

I don't think I knew that.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So he's out there smoking and he gets shot right through the jugular.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

It's almost like a instant wound, but he will, he doesn't die

Jenn:

instantaneously and it's one shot.

Jenn:

And you can see from the picture they point right across if they're, at the time

Jenn:

the Lorraine Motel had a swimming pool.

Jenn:

Yep.

Jenn:

In the parking In a parking lot?

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

In Woodside.

Jenn:

And there's like an alleyway and there's the boarding house.

Jenn:

And this is an alley, a shared alleyway between the back of the hotel, right?

Jenn:

And the boarding house.

Jenn:

And so they're pointing at the boarding house and James Earl Ray is staying in

Jenn:

that boarding house they're pointing at.

Jenn:

And the bullet shot comes from that little window on the far right and that

Jenn:

is the bathroom of the boarding house.

Jenn:

James Earl Ray's room is basically centered in the boarding house.

Jenn:

There's no windows, but he stakes out in the bathroom.

Jenn:

And watches for King to come out on the balcony.

Jenn:

So he's really prepared.

Jenn:

He's oh, for sure pre-planned.

Jenn:

There's no doubt

Scott:

he's followed his movements.

Scott:

This wasn't by chance.

Jenn:

Wasn't by chance.

Jenn:

He has the rifle.

Jenn:

Now, what's interesting and the things I bring up in the video is that's not, to

Jenn:

me, it doesn't look like an easy shot.

Jenn:

It's a far distance.

Jenn:

It's not like he practiced.

Jenn:

It's

Scott:

a, it's a straight shot.

Scott:

It's a straight shot.

Scott:

It's a straight shot.

Scott:

So for someone who didn't practice, which we find out later that James

Scott:

Earl Ray hadn't been practicing

Jenn:

and he is not known for being a shooter.

Jenn:

It's not like he has a military record like Lee Harvey Oswald,

Jenn:

that he's, it's practice.

Scott:

It's decently.

Scott:

It's decently far, you know, it's not it's like from one building to another

Scott:

and there's a small alley, like he's across the street across a parking

Jenn:

lot, and I'm not think you couldn't make it, but usually

Jenn:

you need a tracking shot.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

That's, if you ever saw that movie with Jack Reacher one shot, most

Jenn:

people who shoot need one shot to get a, to figure out, get a, yeah.

Jenn:

A tra a tracking shot.

Jenn:

But Dr.

Jenn:

Martin Luther King is immediately rushed to the hospital.

Jenn:

It's a segregated hospital.

Jenn:

It's, we're St.

Jenn:

Jude stands today.

Jenn:

Oh, I don't think I realize that.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So if you think about it, it's not close.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

That's a little ways away.

Jenn:

It's a little ways away.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

You have to go across the city.

Jenn:

And then he's declared dead at seven 30.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

It's about an hour and a half later.

Jenn:

Now aftermath.

Jenn:

James Earl Ray fires the one shot, throws the rifle onto the bedspread in the room.

Jenn:

He's staying in with all this other evidence that's on the bedspread.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Doesn't he just kinda wrap it up in the bedspread?

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

He gathers up the bedspread.

Jenn:

Kinda like a hobo, right?

Jenn:

Yep.

Jenn:

Like in your sack.

Jenn:

Throws it over his shoulder, runs out the boarding house, the front door.

Jenn:

So he's not in the alleyway door.

Jenn:

He's across in the front door.

Jenn:

And he sees a police car and it's Not with his lights on or

Jenn:

anything, he just sees a police car.

Jenn:

And so he said he was scared, so he threw everything in the

Jenn:

doorway of the boarding house.

Jenn:

So he just left all the evidence right there.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Fingerprint, everything.

Jenn:

It's all right there for you.

Jenn:

And he hops in his Mustang.

Jenn:

He has a white Mustang, drives it to Canada, able to make it across

Jenn:

to London, and it's in London, that his passport gets flagged and

Jenn:

he's extradited back to Memphis.

Jenn:

So that's a, and I can talk, we'll talk about what happens

Jenn:

to James Earl Ray after that.

Jenn:

King is killed.

Jenn:

The city goes into chaos.

Jenn:

They're not sure what, you know, riots start to happen.

Jenn:

I, this is something else I learned in grad school.

Jenn:

I did not know riots happened across the nation.

Jenn:

I think I forgot that when King was killed.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And so they're very nervous about riots in Memphis.

Jenn:

If you can imagine.

Jenn:

You know, you can imagine.

Jenn:

Sure.

Jenn:

So Coretta Scott King comes to Memphis.

Jenn:

Not only to get his body, but she finishes the march.

Jenn:

The

Scott:

March, that's right.

Scott:

And they do like the peaceful

Jenn:

march.

Jenn:

So they do a silent march.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

April 8th.

Jenn:

So if you think of her tracking the dates here.

Jenn:

Larry Payne is buried April 2nd.

Jenn:

I have seen, I have been to the mountaintop.

Jenn:

April 3rd shot, April 4th.

Jenn:

April 8th.

Jenn:

Credit.

Jenn:

Scott's doing the silent march.

Jenn:

Everything's happening.

Jenn:

Good grief, relatively

Scott:

quickly, and they're all within basically the span of a week.

Jenn:

And so 42,000 people come to do that silent march with her, and that's when

Jenn:

you're gonna get like a huge national.

Jenn:

Awareness.

Jenn:

And that's when Memphis is we've gotta end this strike.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So eight days later, the strike has ended, the sanitation

Jenn:

workers are allowed to unionize.

Jenn:

Oh, okay.

Jenn:

The African American and they get increase in wages.

Jenn:

Wow.

Jenn:

So the sanitation strike is over, but it is cost the life of Dr.

Jenn:

Martin Luther King.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So the other things that I talk about in the video,

Jenn:

the plot to Kill King.

Jenn:

And there's a book that I read for grad school called The Plot to Kill

Jenn:

King because I was very much under the assumption, and I'm not a conspiracy

Jenn:

theorist, that it was James Earl Ray.

Jenn:

They have the gun that is kind our have the fingerprint.

Jenn:

We, Lou learned.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

Growing up.

Jenn:

He comes back to, now he's extradited back to Memphis and in March, so he gets

Jenn:

about, he gets away for almost a year.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

He pleads guilty.

Jenn:

He pleads guilty.

Jenn:

He doesn't have to testify.

Jenn:

It's very simple.

Jenn:

99 years in prison and that's it.

Jenn:

It's, that's it.

Jenn:

Gavel.

Jenn:

You're done.

Jenn:

You're in prison.

Jenn:

And then it's two days later he cans and he says, I'm not guilty.

Jenn:

I was a patsy.

Jenn:

I had met this person.

Jenn:

Gives a whole story there.

Jenn:

The king family will visit him.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

Get more information from him.

Jenn:

He maintains that for the rest of his life, he'll, he will die in prison.

Jenn:

And so Corretta King will bring a civil suit against the city of

Jenn:

Memphis with some of that evidence.

Jenn:

And one of the things that comes out with that evidence is what I talked

Jenn:

about in the video, that there was a Memphis police officer That's right,

Jenn:

who practiced the entire day before, so April 3rd in the range with the same

Jenn:

type of rifle that was used to kill Dr.

Jenn:

Martin Luther King.

Jenn:

And I was like, when I first read that, I was like, okay, coincidence.

Jenn:

The very next day after the assassination happens, the city comes out and

Jenn:

cleans out all of those bushes and there's a bunch of bushes and garbage

Jenn:

and things back here in the alley.

Jenn:

They have it all cleaned out.

Jenn:

Which is interesting because they're still studying this assassination case.

Jenn:

But here they clean out everything, so you can't even find it.

Jenn:

What if James Earl Ray walked back there and left them footprints?

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

They just clean it all out.

Jenn:

So that made me go, huh?

Jenn:

Things that make you go, and then, Where I'm pointing here, that

Jenn:

brick building is a fire station and that was a fire station.

Jenn:

Then

Scott:

For those listening, we're showing a video of our

Scott:

Martin Luther King last day's.

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

Video on the live stream.

Scott:

So if you're listening to the podcast, you know, Go head over to the channel

Scott:

and kind of search for Martin Luther King and you'll find the video.

Scott:

But Jen, I'm, we're showing here the Lorraine Motel, and then right

Scott:

across the street is the boarding house where James Earl Ray was.

Scott:

And then you were pointing out one of the other

Jenn:

buildings, so like diagonal from the Lorraine Motel is a fire station.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And it was a fire station even then in 1968.

Jenn:

And they had sent all the African American firefighters home early that.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

They had just said they just not

Scott:

needed.

Scott:

And what was interesting to me, and I think we talked about this

Scott:

in one of our very early podcasts was when you were in grad school.

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

And in one of your classes in this topic came up and I think you were a lot of the

Scott:

people who lived or grew up in the area.

Scott:

And we're, I think even maybe a little bit younger than you, in grad school you

Scott:

have varying ages, but all of them said,

Scott:

oh yeah.

Scott:

The FBI did it.

Scott:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And I was the one who's it was James Earl Ray.

Jenn:

And

Scott:

everybody just kinda looked to you like you were totally stranger.

Scott:

Like it was totally, don't you know that, it was the FBI or it was law

Jenn:

enforcement or that the other felt I'm surrounded by conspiracy theorists.

Jenn:

But when I read the book, it was very interesting.

Jenn:

It was, and they had documentation.

Jenn:

They had the actual.

Jenn:

Records of the shooting range.

Jenn:

They had the record of them cleaning out the alleyway.

Jenn:

They showed the discharge lists of the firefighters going home.

Jenn:

And the thing that sealed the deal for me Yeah.

Jenn:

Was the coroner.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So the coroner was actually, it's actually the same corner

Jenn:

who declared Elvis Presley dead.

Jenn:

Yeah, that's right.

Jenn:

Was the one who declared Martin Luther King dead and he did

Jenn:

not do bullet trajectory.

Scott:

Yeah.

Scott:

Now and you said to me, That they had done bull trajectory for, was it jfk?

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

That was four or five years prior.

Scott:

Five years prior.

Scott:

Five years.

Scott:

So the technology was there.

Scott:

Oh yeah.

Scott:

The technique was there.

Scott:

Law enforcement knew how to do that, and they were just like, yeah, we're

Jenn:

not gonna do that.

Jenn:

So you can make an argument.

Jenn:

They didn't do it because of.

Jenn:

Social norms.

Jenn:

Sure.

Jenn:

The this corner is white.

Jenn:

Yep.

Jenn:

And he probably doesn't what, maybe he doesn't think the person is, the

Jenn:

Martin Luther King was substantial.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

To do that kind of research on that could be an argument, especially

Jenn:

in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968.

Jenn:

But it's not like the.

Jenn:

The process wasn't there.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

It, and almost if you wanted to practice it or try it also too, if you wanted to

Jenn:

prove the case for James Earl Ray, it would've been a great thing to testify.

Jenn:

Sure.

Jenn:

With.

Jenn:

So trajectory is never done and trajectory is never done.

Jenn:

To a point that it almost was like when I read how he stitched

Jenn:

him up, it was as if he.

Jenn:

Sabotage the evidence.

Jenn:

And I just thought this was very interesting.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So that to me was like the turning point.

Jenn:

I was like, this is there's too much smoke.

Jenn:

Too much, right?

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

So when Coretta Scott King brings that civil suit against the city of

Jenn:

Memphis in 1999 Ray was scapegoat.

Jenn:

And that's what they Argue.

Jenn:

She doesn't win the suit, but it gets heard.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

And she does get APO an apology from the city of Memphis.

Jenn:

Oh, wow.

Scott:

One of those things, again, for us living in Memphis for three

Scott:

years, , I think you mentioned it earlier there's echoes of a lot

Scott:

of that stuff that happened then.

Scott:

I wouldn't call it I'd say they're actually more in tune socially nowadays.

Scott:

When we were living there in Memphis about being cognizant of that kind of stuff.

Scott:

. I actually felt like when we lived there from 2016 to 2019 the local, community

Scott:

leaned into that and they acknowledged and said, Hey, we wanna make sure

Scott:

we're not doing things like that.

Scott:

And I, but there were, there, there were those echoes.

Scott:

This were echoes.

Scott:

I,

Jenn:

I, this was very different for someone.

Jenn:

I got different reactions.

Jenn:

You remember when I wanted to go there?

Jenn:

When we first moved there?

Jenn:

I said, I wanna go to the Lorraine Motel.

Jenn:

It's the anniversary of Martin Luther King.

Jenn:

And someone said to me, oh honey, that's not for you.

Scott:

And that's one of the things, again, we've talked about this on the

Scott:

podcast before, is growing up in the area.

Scott:

People are gonna learn and learn things through a very different

Scott:

lens than what you and I did.

Scott:

Absolutely.

Scott:

Me growing up in California Yes.

Scott:

My entire life.

Scott:

And you growing up, you know, primarily on the East Coast.

Scott:

We just learned it very differently and the norms for us were very different.

Scott:

And for me, when I moved to Memphis was the first time I

Scott:

ever felt like, oh my gosh.

Scott:

You know, California is much more of a melting pot.

Scott:

You know, the local population in Memphis, Tennessee is very black and white.

Scott:

Yes.

Scott:

You know, as, as far as just percentages

Jenn:

go.

Jenn:

Yes.

Jenn:

And like you said, we both learned the Martin Luther King was assassinated, but

Jenn:

that's pretty much where it ended for me.

Jenn:

Yeah.

Jenn:

No city, no

Scott:

context.

Scott:

And you gimme a list of names.

Scott:

I could have pointed out James Earl Ray as the one who got, arrested.

Jenn:

Yes, but I could not have told you it was Memphis,

Jenn:

Tennessee before moving there.

Scott:

Yeah I don't think I could have either.

Scott:

So again, thank you for folks jumping on this kind of ad

Scott:

hoc, off the cuff livestream.

Scott:

And for those listening, thank you for listening to the Talk With History

Scott:

podcast and please reach out to us.

Scott:

Website talk with history.com.

Scott:

But more importantly, if you know someone else that might enjoy this

Scott:

podcast, please share it with them, especially if you think today's topic

Scott:

would enter us a friend, shoot 'em a text and tell 'em to look us up.

Scott:

We rely on you, our community to grow and we appreciate you all every day.

Scott:

We'll talk to you next time.

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