I don’t remember Martin Luther King, Jr., because I never met him. If you never met him, you don’t remember him, either. What I remember are monochromatic images, a few speeches, and some stuff I read. That’s not a man.

That the Federal Bureau of Investigation tapped King’s telephones and secretly recorded conversations and planted agents in his organization and tried to drive him to despair with threats so he would commit suicide doesn’t surprise me. If the FBI were even a middle-class white man it would have been locked up long ago.

One of the things the FBI found out was that King liked women a lot, mostly Coretta but definitely not just her. Some people seem to think his marital infidelity invalidates his achievements. Those people are stupid.

King started college at 15, and when he got the call from his people he answered. He didn’t dodge the hard parts, and he didn’t just organize marches and demonstrations, he led them, like generals used to do back when they had to be brave.

He wasn’t afraid to die, unlike many spurious Christians, and after the dream speech in 1963, the FBI said he was “the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country.” The FBI director referred to King as “degenerate” and “disgusting” in correspondence. A draft of a letter sent to King calls him an “evil, abnormal beast” and suggests that there’s only one thing he can do to avoid public exposure of his “fraudulent self.” Soon King came to realize the relationship of poverty to war and imperialism, and in 1967 in New York he said, “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government,” which wasn’t common knowledge like it is now.

The FBI says that it always gets its man, and in April 1968 after all black police and firefighters were transferred away from the 2nd Precinct fire station across the street from the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, and King was relocated to a room there that was more open to view, and four tactical police units in the area were reassigned away just that morning, King was shot dead on the balcony. The official version didn’t make much sense, and that’s not unusual—e.g., John F. Kennedy, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, the Waco Seige, Wounded Knee, and 9/11 for starters.

James Earl Ray did time for the killing, but even the King family didn’t think much of that. In 1999 a civil jury in Memphis decided that Martin Luther King, Jr., had been assassinated as part of a conspiracy “including agencies of his own government.” That quote is from what Jim Douglass wrote in the Spring 2000 issue of Probe Magazine. I’ve never met him, either.

One of the most interesting things King is said to have said is, “There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.” Listen to this.

One comment so far

  1. Oliver Steinberg says:

    I do remember seeing Martin Luther King. He was shorter than I had expected. In my early teens, I used to collect autographs, and hoped that I might get Dr. King’s for my collection. But there were important people as well as a lot of police and campus cops surrounding him, and I could not get close enough to ask. It also struck me that he was really busy and looked very tired, so why should I bother him?

    Our state senator, John Marty, met most the national civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King. John’s father (also named for Martin Luther) was a famous clergyman, and the civil rights champions were mostly pastors, too, so they were often house guests at the Marty’s. John later recalled that Dr. King found the time to talk to and listen to him and the other children . . . and Martin Luther King treated them respectfully, not so much “as if they were adults” but just on their own terms.

    I don’t know if the government, particularly the FBI, had a hand in the conspiracy to murder Dr. King. I thought it was ironic that political circumstances led to Ronald Reagan being the President who signed the official act making King’s birthday a national holiday. Reagan got elected by launching his 1980 campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, making a speech in favor of “states”” rights.”

    “States’ rights” in those days, and for 100 or more years previously, meant only one thing: Keep black people down, whether by law, custom, or terror. The ONLY noteworthy thing that had EVER happened in Philadelphia, Mississippi was the murder there of 3 nonviolent civil rights volunteers in 1964. Which is precisely why Reagan spoke there—not to denounce racism, hatred, and violence, but to send a message that he, Ronald Reagan sympathized with the white supremacists.

    And then he ended up signing the King Holiday bill. A little touch of irony. Well, it was just a token recognition, wasn’t it? Not something truly useful like national health care. And besides, the powers-that-be compensated by taking away another official holiday, so that no working people actually got any additional time off, despite the creation of a new holiday.

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