Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
James Earl Ray was arrested for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Ray had admitted to the assassination in order to avoid death by the electric chair and was ordered to serve ninety-nine years in prison for the crime. Ray had later recanted his confession and said that he was a patsy set up as part of a conspiracy involving the federal government, to include, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Dr. Martin Luther King was in Memphis to assist with a strike that was being held by sanitation workers. Dr. King had become increasingly concerned with poverty and was fighting for economic impartiality for everyone of any and every race, creed or color. King, along with the the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, had formed the Poor Peoples' Campaign to try and get economic reform. In March of 1968, King led a protest in Memphis that led to violence and even saw someone killed. King left Memphis but said he will back in early April to support the sanitation worker's strike.
Martin Luther King did return to Memphis on April 3, 1968 to lead another demonstration and was also the night that he gave his famous and unbeknownst to him, his final speech about seeing the Promised Land and in it he said, “I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land."
It was today, forty-eight years ago, on April 4, 1968, that Martin Luther King was shot and killed by a sniper while standing out on the balcony of his hotel room, waiting to go to dinner. A rifle was found in an alley next to the boarding house that James Earl Ray was staying at that night, with his fingerprints on it.
It wasn't until June 8, 1968 that James Earl Ray was caught in a London airport, trying to catch a flight to Belgium. Ironically, in the 1990's, Coretta Scott King led the charge to free James Earl Ray from prison stating that he was innocent and there was a government conspiracy to kill her late husband and that Ray was not the assassin. Her pleas fell on deaf ears and James Earl Ray died in prison in 1998, taking his guilt or innocence with him.