Don’t Blame James Earl Ray for MLK

Don’t Blame James Earl Ray for MLK

A Story by CEOCaples

James Earl Ray did not kill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Throughout United States history, the government has been associated in some fashion or another to several conspiracy theories: The Spanish American War, the assassination of JFK, and the Gulf of Tonkin (Vietnam War) just to name a few. But one that rocked the Black communities nationwide was the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. History books will read that he was killed by James Earl Ray and it seems very convincible since he fit the profile of racial tensions in the 1960s. James Earl Ray was a staunch white supremacist who belonged to the far-right National States’ Rights Party. Therefore, this gave Ray motive to assassinate Dr. King out of a combination of white racist zeal and because he thought he might get reward money raised by white supremacist businessmen as a bounty for killing Dr. King. But in actuality, Ray was only the last and most successful of a long line of assassination plots launched against Dr. Martin Luther King by violent white supremacists. For a killer, let alone an assassin, Ray didn’t fit the behavioral patterns nor motivations. He was a petty thief, whose criminal progression headed further into burglary, shoplifting, and handling stolen goods. For him to progress from that to an assassin has many steps rarely taken, that didn’t show up in Ray’s history. Furthermore, he wasn’t a hunter, nor a recreational target shooter, not even military trained to make a difficult shot as the one made that killed Dr. King. Then for him to escape better and further than more experienced and resourceful criminals do, at the same time leaving a fair amount of physical evidence behind that a convicted criminal with a jailhouse schooling, this seemed unlikely. In-addition-to, he was also a very unlikely person to be hired as a sniper-assassin, there were literally millions of Americans better qualified by training and experience and thousands with some history of racial violence and hate conditioning (and yet none of them decided to become a lone nut assassin of a Baptist Minister who gave rousing speeches and practiced non-violent protests. I guess that’s why MLK called for us to be love-struck with each other, and not colorblind towards each other; as if he wasn’t still a Black man. After years of putting the piecing to the puzzle together, the King family sensed a cover up. Therefore, in 1999, the King family filed a civil lawsuit against Loyd Jowers and other unnamed co-conspirators for their part in the death of Dr. King. Jowers himself came forward in 1993 alleging that he was part of a conspiracy to kill Martin Luther King Jr. Besides, James Ear Ray denied that he ever did it. Although he entered a plea of guilty, it was because he was tricked into doing so by his lawyer, who told him he had to plead guilty to get a trial. The lawyer, as it turned out, had a book contract that was contingent on a guilty plea. The Judge- Joe B. Brown testified in the King family civil lawsuit that Mr. Ray had entered an Alford plea in which without confessing, he plead guilty. This would be reasonable for someone who suspected that he was being framed for a death-penalty crime, and lacked the resources to put on a proper defense. Judge Brown said that Mr. Ray never actually confessed. Furthermore, Mr. Ray was also coerced. He was told that his father and his brother would be jailed if he did not plead guilty. To make matters worse, Reverend James Lawson testified about Mr. Ray’s treatment in jail in the months before the plea hearing: They fixed up a special cell with twenty-four-hour surveillance, no privacy, twenty-four-hour lights. . . . It reminded me of the brainwashing that our GI’s had in the Korean War. . . . I said to myself, what is going on here? This is the man, why are they torturing him. If they have the evidence about him, why not just simply go to trial. Then when they had the plea-bargaining business, I said to myself, here is this justice system, the most important American perhaps other than the President of the United States has been killed, and they are going to have a plea-bargaining instead of a full-scale trial so that a court of law can tell us, can give us a full transcript of what that murder is about. 

As it turned out, the King’s family hunch was right; and after the civil suit (December 8, 1999)Mrs. King said: This verdict is not only a great victory for my family, but also a great victory for America. It is a great victory for truth itself. It is important to know that this was a SWIFT verdict, delivered after about an hour of jury deliberation. The jury was clearly convinced by the extensive evidence that was presented during the trial that, in addition to Mr. Jowers, the conspiracy of the Mafia, local, state and federal government agencies, were deeply involved in the assassination of my husband. The jury also affirmed overwhelming evidence that identified someone else, not James Earl Ray, as the shooter, and that Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame. At the end of Mr. Ray’s life, he was dying of liver disease (contracted in a blood transfusion in the prison hospital). He was offered the opportunity to die outside of prison if he would only confess to the crime. He refused. As it was, Mr. Ray did not live to see the King family civil lawsuit in a Memphis court in 1999. In just thirteen days of testimony and 70 witnesses the jury found within one hour that Dr. King had died as a result of a conspiracy and that agencies of the US government were involved. So we no longer have to blame James Earl Ray for Dr. King; and as for me, I’ve grown to understand that the government doesn’t always work for the benefit of justice, that the government can become the enemy of its own people.

Thanks for reading,

Historian Caples

© 2018 CEOCaples

Author's Note

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Added on January 14, 2018
Last Updated on January 14, 2018
Tags: History, Civil Rights, America, Racism, Government



Gautier, MS

High School Educator-History “The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special an.. more..