The family of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believes to this day that the Reverend was killed as part of a broader conspiracy and that James Earl Ray was merely a patsy.
King’s killing in 1968 occurred in the same bloody year that Bobby Kennedy was shot while running for president in the California primary by a man named Sirhan Sirhan, whose motives have also been widely questioned.
For the King family and others in the civil rights movement, the FBI’s obsession with King in the years leading up to his slaying in Memphis on April 4, 1968 — pervasive surveillance, a malicious disinformation campaign and open denunciations by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover — laid the groundwork for their belief that he was the target of a plot.
“It pains my heart,” said Bernice King, 55, the youngest of Martin Luther King’s four children and the executive director of the King Center in Atlanta, “that James Earl Ray had to spend his life in prison paying for things he didn’t do.”
Until her own death in 2006, Coretta Scott King, who endured the FBI’s campaign to discredit her husband, was open in her belief that a conspiracy led to the assassination. Her family filed a civil suit in 1999 to force more information into the public eye, and a Memphis jury ruled that the local, state and federal governments were liable for King’s death. The full transcript of the trial remains posted on the King Center’s website.
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It’s so curious that even King’s closest relatives believe there was some kind of conspiracy. What really happened? Will King’s family ever have peace?
Here is an interview King conducted in 1963 that was not allowed on U.S. airwaves until many years later: