Saturday, December 17, 2011

Smithsonian Channel to air Original MLK Assassination Footage

NEW YORK (AP) — Some forward-looking college professors enabled television’s Smithsonian Channel to offer a look at the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. from the time in which it occurred.

The network said Wednesday it will air a documentary in February culled primarily from local news footage in Memphis, Tennessee, where the civil rights leader was murdered on April 4, 1968. Most of the footage hasn’t been seen on television since it originally aired.
Many such moments are lost since local television stations usually taped over old broadcasts or threw away film reels, said David Royle, executive producer at the Smithsonian Channel. But some University of Memphis professors sensed in March 1968 that civil rights history was happening with a strike of local sanitation workers, the event that drew King to Memphis, and they collected footage of the events through King’s murder and its aftermath.
“What they were doing was absolutely visionary — and very unusual,” Royle said.
It enabled the production of a documentary with a vivid, “you-are-there” feel and the uncovering of some fascinating moments.
Royle said he was drawn, for instance, to coverage of King’s famed “mountaintop” speech at the Mason Temple the night before the assassination. Cameras followed King after the speech to where he slumped in a chair, and viewers could sense the man’s fragility.
The producer said he recognized how the existence of such film was unusual when he researched an older documentary on Sam Ervin, the North Carolina senator who chaired the Watergate investigative committee in the 1970s. Royle said he traveled across North Carolina and could find only a minute and a half of tape of Ervin in his home state.
Another stroke of luck for Tom Jennings, who produced “MLK: The Assassination Tapes,” was finding Vince Hughes, who was a 20-year-old Memphis police dispatcher on his second day of work when King was killed. Hughes kept audiotapes of police calls on that day and crime scene photos from where King was shot, and the material was made available for the film.
Jennings also went to radio station WDIA to collect interviews from black Memphis residents at the time. The white-owned and operated TV stations at the time had little such material, Royle said.
“This (documentary) plunges you into the immediacy of the period and allows you to absorb it the way people at the time absorbed it,” Royle said. “There’s something that’s electric about that. It gets you to sit up and pay attention.”

MLK TV Special - The MLK Assassination Tapes

MLK: The Assassination Tapes premiers on February 12, 2012 at 9:00 o'clock on The Smithsonian Channel.

The Raw, Real-Time Story of an American Tragedy
On Smithsonian Channel

Story of Last Days of Dr. Martin Luther King Told Through Rare Television and Radio News Accounts, Many
Not Seen or Heard Since 1968

New York, NY – December 7, 2011 – The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, is one of the defining moments in American history. The new Smithsonian Channel one-hour documentary, MLK: THE ASSASSINATION TAPES, premiering during Black History Month on Sunday, February 12 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, is a chilling, immersive experience of those historic events, created almost entirely through the use of television and radio news footage from the weeks leading up to Dr. King’s visits to Memphis through the aftermath of his murder.

It is a rare accomplishment when a filmmaker can recreate the past from contemporary news reports. It was standard practice for most local stations to re-use their tapes and wipe out history, and very few local television and radio stations in Memphis preserved their footage.

But MLK: THE ASSASSINATION TAPES draws extensively from the unique materials at the Special Collections Division at The University of Memphis. When Memphis’s mostly black sanitation workers went on strike on February 11, 1968, several University faculty members, believing this was a seminal moment in the civil rights movement, began collecting every piece of media they could find – television, radio and print. When Dr. King arrived in town to lend his voice to their cause, the team from the University was already gathering material in full-force. The process continued throughout both of Dr. King’s visits – and after his killing. Much of the footage has never been seen by the public since it was first gathered in 1968…until now.

Compiling the events from authentic accounts was a difficult and painstaking task. With no narrator and with no interviews - other than those conducted by journalists at the time - producer Tom Jennings (“The Lost JFK Tapes: The Assassination”) weaves a powerful account of the events leading up to Dr. King’s murder, the shocking moment itself, and the aftermath.  MLK: THE ASSASSINATION TAPES captures the roiling emotions of the Civil Rights era, when long-simmering anger on both sides of the racial divide reached a boiling point.

What led Dr. King to Memphis began when the cities’ sanitation workers went on strike to protest their poverty level wages and dangerous working conditions that led to two workers being crushed to death by a garbage compacter. From the start, Memphis city officials refused to negotiate, insisting the workers had no right to go on strike.

In March, Dr. King decided to take time off from planning his “Poverty March on Washington” to travel to Memphis to lend his voice to the sanitation workers. Unfortunately, a second visit turned into a disaster when a march through the city turned violent, with businesses being burned and looted. Dr. King was whisked out of the city over fears for his safety. The march was one of the most humiliating moments in his career. A week later, against the strong advice from his closest aides and confidantes, Dr. King returned, arguing that that if his message of non-violence didn’t work in Memphis, it would not work anywhere.

On April 3, at Mason Temple in Memphis, he gave his famous “Mountaintop” speech that cited the threats and foreshadowed his death: “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.” The next day he was shot.

MLK: THE ASSASSINATION TAPES captures the frantic manhunt for MLK’s assassin, the riots that erupted across the country, and the desperate pleas for peace from President Lyndon Johnson and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. It includes poignant footage of Coretta Scott King and her children marching in Memphis just days after King’s death, in support of the striking workers.

MLK: THE ASSASSINATION TAPES is produced by Tom Jennings of Tom Jennings Productions. Executive producers for Smithsonian Channel are David Royle and Charles Poe.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quote of the Day

I'm re-reading Harold Weisberg's book on the MLK case "Frame-Up." and came across a passage that could apply to so many other things that have happened since the assassinations of the 1960's.

“Behind the pretense of strict adherence to the proprieties, by what it did and said and what it leaked and inspired, the government was successful in capturing the public mind with endless newstories the other side could neither answer nor refute. This did amount to propaganda.” Frame-Up p. 22

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stuart Wexler and the MLK assassination

FYI, about Stuart Wexler and the MLK assassination.  Stu is working on a book with Larry Hancock which is going to say that yes, James Earl Ray shot Dr. King all on his own because he heard about some scheme the KKK had.  The KKK was offering a big sum of money, $100,000, if only someone would kill Dr. King for them.  Ray heard this in prison and that's why he broke out, to kill King, and to collect the bounty.  The book was previously going to be called "Seeking Armageddon: The Effort to Kill Martin Luther King Jr."  Now it's got a new title "The Awful Grace of God: Racial Terrorism and the Unsolved Murder of Martin Luther King Jr." 

It should be called, "Aw For [ Deleted] Sake: Two Buffoons 

Promote a Lone Nut Story That Even Posner Wouldn't Peddle." 

Don't believe me? Check these out: 

An interesting site

I came across an interesting site with thought provoking analysis of exactly where witnesses may actually be pointing to in the immediate aftermath of Dr. King's assassination.

It's called Martin Luther King - The Fatal Shot Came from a Different Direction

Now there are rather a lot of annoying animated and blinking ads at the top. Scroll down.  It gets better.

This iconic and haunting photo taken moments after Dr, King was shot shows Andrew Young and others pointing in the direction they believe the shot came from.  But, what exactly are they pointing at? The federal government believes they are pointing at the back of Bessie Brewer's rooming house, from a window they say James Earl Ray shot from.  Researcher Ted Wilburn believes they are pointing towards the Gattis building.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A petition to release files on Dr. King

The White House has a website where you can create a petition and if there are enough people who sign onto it it will be brought to the attention of President Obama.  The petition has been created to release all governmental files relating to the surveillance on Dr. King,  his assassination, and the investigation into his assassination.  It needs 25,000 people to sign it.  I am supporting this.

The petition can be found here -

You do need to create an account.  The White House site will send you an email back, and then you do what it says.  Then you have an account.  Then you can sign the petition.  

I was the 15th person to sign it.  We need you to sign this and please ask your friends to sign it too.

Thank you.  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Okay, what the hell is going on? Is it Spring cleaning at the Lone Nut Archives or something?

This is getting exhausting trying to keep up with this.  "The Kennedys" mini-series ends this weekend.  New Sirhan documents show up.  New Ray stuff, and more new Ray stuff.

I really miss Phil Melanson, and I wonder what he would think of this stuff.

James Earl Ray

Documents underscore theory that James Earl Ray was paid off - That sounds like the Commercial Appeal is acknowledging there was a conspiracy.  You see if you're paid off then there's someone giving money and someone receiving money, 2 people.

Yet another batch of newly discovered records about James Earl Ray

New Sirhan Sirhan documents, and now new stuff about Ray.

Records give up-close look at James Earl Ray's every move in jail

They are logs of Ray's every move: What time he woke, what he ate, what he ordered from the commissary, what he read, who he corresponded with and who he received as a visitor.

From the article:

"...the uneventful morning of Sept. 28, 1968, at the Shelby County Jail grew into an intriguing afternoon for Ray, a career criminal arrested for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Ray had a visitor -- J.B. Stoner, a venomous Georgia segregationist later convicted of bombing an Alabama church. Like Ray, Stoner, an attorney, was suspected by the FBI in King's murder.
"Mr. Stoner brought a note out of A Block with him which Ray had given him,'' Smith wrote, determining the note involved a legal matter but failing to record the substance of the pair's 90-minute jailhouse conversation.  (emphasis added - Joe)  
Can you believe this?  J.B. Stoner was convicted in 1980 for the bombing of the Bethel Babtist church in Birmingham.  He was considered a suspect in that bombing, and a suspect in the killing of King, and a suspect in many other Civil Rights era crimes and he gets to see Ray, and talk to him for an hour and a half, and take a note from Ray out of Ray's cell, and no one knows what they talked about, or the content of the note! WTF! 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Commercial Appeal Assisted the FBI in its COINTELPRO activities

Another brilliant Mike Vinson article

A brilliant definition of a "conspiracy theorist"

Meet Mike Vinson of the Murfreesboro Post.

VINSON: Conspiracy vs. non-conspiracy — the 'One-Percenter Factor'

Concerning the research of these high-profile, highly-controversial issues, I forewarn anyone of this: It is not for those of thin skin and faint heart.

If you can't handle being repeatedly attacked and disappointed, then you're finished before you start.

However, if you are cut from stronger fabric, then (to borrow from outlaw biker terminology) you might qualify as a "one-percenter," an independent thinker willing to put in the time, take the heat, and get to the "core" of the matter, a cut above the other 99 percent. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More on new photos and documents found on MLK case

So, I keep wondering was any of this shown to the HSCA or Dr. William Pepper?

Never-before-seen photos document James Earl Ray's incarceration in Memphis

MLK: New Documents In King Assassination To Be Released

More great photos of Ray

Largely Unseen Photos Of MLK's Killer Unveiled

Again, AP caption:

In this 1968 photo released Wednesday, March 30, 2011 by the Shelby County Register's office, James Earl Ray is seen in the Shelby County, Memphis, Tenn. Long forgotten photos documenting the incarceration of James Earl Ray after his arrest for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. will be posted online as early as Wednesday afternoon to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the civil rights leader'’s death.

How Stupid Were They? He's Facing the Wall!

What the F*ck is the point of this photo? This is James Earl Ray facing the wall, and the identification slate is upside down, as though that's how all the fashionable inmates wear it.  Is this supposed to help identify him? Suspect was said to have a featureless flat latex appearance..., hey wait a minute.  

This is how the AP captioned this photo:

In this 1968 photo released Wednesday, March 30, 2011 by the Shelby County Register's office,James Earl Ray is seen in the Shelby County, Memphis, Tenn., jail. Long forgotten photos documenting the incarceration of James Earl Ray after his arrest for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. will be posted online as early as Wednesday afternoon to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the civil rights leader's death.

Newly found documents shed light on MLK's convicted killer

What else awaits discovery in the city and county buildings of Memphis?

Newly found documents shed light on MLK's convicted killer

(CNN) -- Recently discovered photos and letters are giving an inside look at the man convicted of assassinating the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

On April 4, 1968, King was shot and killed by a sniper as he stood on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was trying to mediate a garbage workers' strike.

The celebrated civil rights leader's death led to race riots in dozens of cities and mourning around the world.

American James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to the murder of the civil rights leader and was sentenced to 99 years in prison in March 1969. Ray died in 1998.

Little was known of Ray's state of mind in his months in jail before his guilty plea -- until Shelby County, Tennessee, officials came across a bundle of documents about five years ago in a local archival building.

"In 2005, we started going through the Shelby County archives -- going through organizing, identifying things," Tom Leatherwood, Shelby County register of deeds, said Wednesday. "But then in 2006 or 2007, we found this bundle. I said well, what is it? Let's see. And so we picked it up, turned it over, and there it was."

That bundle -- an unassuming, mustard-yellow folder with tape crisscrossing it -- had inscribed on it in black marker, "Public Defender James E. Ray. Do Not Destroy."

Inside was a wealth of information, including photos of the newly incarcerated accused murderer, as well as letters to family and his attorney during the eight months he was detained at the Shelby County jail.

Since then, Leatherwood said, he has been working with the county attorney to try to get those documents released to the public.

"There's no game-changer here, but for history lovers, there's some really great information," Leatherwood said.

Black and white photos show Ray being patted down by law enforcement; others show him being ushered into his jail cell. One photo shows him being escorted out of a vehicle by then-Sheriff Bill Morris and surrounded by a phalanx of police, apparently on the night he arrived in Memphis after his extradition from England, where he was captured.

Letters and Christmas cards exchanged between Ray and his family indicate a close relationship. "Take it easy," was a frequent sign-off from Ray to his brother and sister.

Ray asked his sister to visit two months after his capture by police. "Bring enough to stay a couple of days," his note reads. "I can explain everything when I see them."

Another letter, sent to Ray's brother Jerry just a month before he pleaded guilty, read: "If you have anything to say about case or anything else don't write it wait until I see you or visit."

Ray also made sure whatever financial gains his story might produce for future generations would be passed on to his brother, Jerry.

"I hereby leave the property belonging to me at the time of my death, being any rights to book royalties, movie royalties and rights and rights to any other monetary compensation whether literary or otherwise," he wrote by hand in his last will and testament.

Also included in the document release are photos of Sirhan Sirhan, the convicted killer of Robert F. Kennedy. The sheriff had contacted law enforcement in California to gain knowledge on how they managed security around Sirhan.

"(Morris) knew he had a potentially explosive situation here, so he reached out to them for advice on how to handle a high-risk, high-profile inmate," Leatherwood said.

After his sentencing, Ray recanted and asked to be tried on an innocent plea, but was rebuffed by the courts. Forensic tests were conducted in 1997 on a hunting rifle recovered near the scene of the assassination, but the results were inconclusive.

After years of fighting to get his name cleared, Ray spent his last days in a coma at a Nashville hospital and died of liver failure in 1998.

Monday marks the 43rd anniversary of King's death.
Leatherwood said the full release of documents will be made available on the Shelby County Register of Deeds website at

Monday, March 21, 2011

What Would Harold Weisberg Think of Hampton Sides?

"I eschew the hackneyed but successful devices of fiction...,"

Frame-Up by Harold Weisberg (Outerbridge & Dienstfrey NY 1971) p. xii

Sunday, February 20, 2011

CNN to air documentary "Pictures Don't Lie" tonight at 8:00 p.m.

Ernest Withers' lens captured pivotal moments in civil rights history. Now, FBI documents expose a darker angle. Soledad O'Brien investigates in "Pictures Don't Lie," an In America special, at 8 p.m. ET February 20 and 26.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

From the, "Well, D'uh," file

FBI: MLK parade bomb may have been racially motivated

"The confluence of the holiday, the march and the device is inescapable," Frank Harrill, an FBI special agent in Spokane, told The Associated Press, "but we are not at the point where we can draw any particular motive."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Brett Reece, Colorado racist

        CNN reports that a Colorado school board member and radio station owner stirred controversy, broadcasting the reading of an anonymous letter he said he received three years ago which described King as a "sexual degenerate" and "an America-hating communist," according to CNN affiliate KMGH. 

Greeley, Colorado, resident Brett Reece said he is broadcasting the letter twice a day because he believes in "the general message of what this letter is about," he said.