The Way I See It- By Jack Crawford
The Real Reason They Killed Martin Luther King, Jr.
We are now at thirty years since Martin Luther King, Jr. was brutally taken away from us by an assassin's bullet at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. I remember precisely where I was and how I reacted to the news saying, "they will pay dearly for this" meaning that the power structure was obviously responsible and that a severe price would be extracted. I was right about the price being paid but I was terribly wrong about who would pay it.
The reality is that African people lost a leader, a spokesman, a spirit of uncompromising principle. The white power structure lost an opportunity to do the right thing and allow momentum the entire country achieved to progress toward equality in the social, political and economic senses. Without King the movement was fragmented and the youth turned to the more radical elements in the movement led by the Black Panther Party.
The BPP made us all proud back then. They were the vanguard, out front and taking no prisoners. They were doing a lot of good but it was not sustained because the government was too powerful and ruthless. The American people could not see that which was obvious to us on the street: cointelpro was clearly in force. All of us so-called revolutionaries were paranoid that the brother next to you may be an agent or an informer. Phone lines were tapped, big time. Meetings were recorded surreptitiously. Brothers working for the FBI infiltrated organizations and were advocating hypermillitant actions that would cause the groups to either split or get into trouble with the police. And they flooded the black communities with drugs. Within a few years, the Panther leaders were either in jail or dead, the students were tamed, the older leaders contemporary with King had been largely silenced by the crumbs they received from white largess and the people in the community were worse off than ever as the drug culture caused absolute chaos and distrust. (How can you trust your neighbor who may hit you over the head to buy some smack?).
So you may ask if the demise of black people was the primary intent of those who had King killed? Why was it necessary to remove him? How was he allowed to rise up to the position of prominence he obtained and who supported him? What changed that required his death?
Let us explore a few points about the time and what was really going on. You see, I don't buy it that we alone made the end of apartheid, better known as segregation in America, come about. I believe the power structure did it because they knew it was expedient for the time. You must remember that these people don't just plan for tomorrow. They put policies in place that may take years to implement. Some of you will remember then Harvard professor, now Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan's advocacy of the "benign neglect" concept. Or, let the minorities migrate to their own pockets and abandon them in place. Industry will move away, business will move away and they will be left to their own devices. That was circa 1965. Look at the situation today. Did it not happen? It was planned, not coincidence.
Similarly, the civil rights movement was a necessary event in history. This country would have lost too much without it. The world was divided into countries that were aligned with the Soviets and those allied with the US back in the 1960s. The US could not pretend with any credibility that it was a true bastion of freedom and democracy when third-world people could come to this country and be treated with the disrespect and humiliation attendant with the legal, state-sponsored, apartheid that was in place in America. A black man couldn't even stay in a decent hotel in Washington, D.C., the nation's capital back then. How would a proud, young ambassador from Africa feel as the subject of apartheid in America? This didn't happen in Moscow. The US laws had to be changed. Once the reality of legal segregation was lifted in 1965-66 further progress for America's ex-slaves was to be closely controlled.
Thus, when King changed his focus from civil rights to the real issues involving economics he became a threat to the underlying fabric of this society. As far as the interests of the ruling class are concerned, King became very dangerous when he pointed out the fact that no ordinary American benefited from the war in Vietnam. The Vietnamese people were no threat to us and King said so with great eloquence. King started talking about a "Poor People's March." King went to Memphis, where he died, to support very poor, very oppressed, striking garbage workers (most garbage workers made so little money that they still qualified for welfare despite their full-time employment).
If you have any question about the credibility of these concepts, listen to King's speech on Vietnam from April 4, 1967. There is a link to it below and on our home page. Here he laid out in painfully clear detail the history of the war, America's immoral involvement and why the war was a direct threat to the real problems of America's poor and minorities. If King had been allowed to continue this dialog even the staunchest conservatives would begin to question the war. His points were too clear and readily understandable to even the most ignorant redneck, the smartest intellectual or the most stubborn warmonger. And remember, the college campuses were in constant rebellion back then. When King spoke to young people, he had moral authority and was a voice of reason. He could not be discredited and branded a nut (as they did with many unpopular leaders). The real truth was that the American involvement in Vietnam only had popular support from those who chose to ignore the realities. When we look at it today it is obvious that it was a horrible waste. In 1967, Americans still believed the government. King made their lies easy to see.
To get your own copy of the speech call the MLK Center in Atlanta, the Pacifica Archives at 800-735-0230 or contact Eso Won Books (linked on our Home Page). Once you hear it you'll have little doubt about the "necessity" of King's demise from the viewpoint of our enemies.
And by the way, I hope none of you ever thought for a minute that James Earl Ray was really a "lone assassin." It very questionable that he was even the assassin. Even on the surface the story of King's assassination is some of the most ridiculous B.S. the government ever tried to sell. Start with basic questions: why would a dumb, escaped convict want to kill King? For money, maybe... But, if he was paid, he is no longer a lone assassin. Right? How did this man get money and forged travel documents to move from Memphis to Atlanta to Toronto to Europe? Why did no one from the FBI ever interview Earl Caldwell, a credible reporter from the New York Times and an eyewitness to the fatal shot coming from the bushes? Why was there no trial? Why did no one ever ask Ray the basic question: "if you killed King, why did you do it?????" If you want to learn more catch the documentary, "Who Really Killed King," on PBS or the Discovery Channel; or read James Earl Ray's book ("Who Killed Martin Luther King" - James Earl Ray, 1992).
Also note: A question - What do John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, King and Robert Kennedy have in common besides being killed by bullets? Opposition to being in Vietnam (Malcolm, King and RFK). Continuing to escalate the war in Vietnam (JFK).
Martin Luther King, Jr. - "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam"
Eso Won Books - This store stocks many books and tapes about MKL. Clearly one of the best sources of materials on African people in the western US. They should have a copy of the April 16, 1967 - Vietnam speech in stock.
Pacifica Radio Foundation Archives - This is a great source of tapes that have been aired on Pacifica stations around the country. The King speech is archive #E2BB4282. However, you should browse the archive. You'll be amazed.
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