The Assassination of Martin Luther King James earl Ray

Throughout history there is constant recognition of virtual heroes who have changed the course of American society. However, it's just as important to recognize the negative historical figures who have impacted America just as significantly, if not more so. Such as the assassination of Martin Luther King which irreversibly changed African American culture and American law.



James Earl Ray was born March 10, 1928 in Alton, Illinois. He was one among eight other siblings in his family. Unfortunately his childhood was marked by tragedy. In 1935 his father moved the family to Missouri to avoid a forgery charge. Less than two years later his little sister died in a fire accident. When he was 16 James moved back to Alton and began working until 1945 when he enlisted in the army. It proved to be the wrong place for Ray after he was discharged in 1948 for drunkenness and lack of adaptability. It was then that Ray began to commit a series of crimes which resulted in various jail times. He managed to remain relatively okay until March of 1960 when he was sentenced to 20 years in the Missouri State Penitentiary. Ray remained there until 1967 when he somehow managed to escape! He then began to lie low, fleeing to multiple locations. (



In Memphis Tennessee early April 1968, James Earl Ray allegedly perched in a bathroom overlooking the Lorraine hotel. He peered through both his binoculars and the scope before firing at King, delivering a fatal shot to his neck. He was later seen fleeing the site. King was later rushed to the hospital in an attempt to save his life, however, it was to late and he was pronounced dead an hour later. Interestingly enough King had delivered a speech the night before in which 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. And I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." It was almost as if he knew the weight in which his speech was carrying. (



Immediately following the crime a series of riots began in over 100 cities across the U.S. These riots involved burning and looting. The black community took the death as, "a rejection of their vigorous pursuit of equality through the nonviolent resistance he had championed." ( It led to more radical protests and served as motivation for groups like The Black Power Movement and The Black Panther Party. Along with the impact on African Americans it also affected law. Upon King's death, President Lyndon B. Johnson rushed the passing of the Fair Housing Act. He signed it by April 11, deeming it a necessary action to honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his life's work. In regards to the crime, it still remains a controversy as to what exactly happened on the night King was murdered. Before James Earl Ray's passing he claimed his innocence and even had the King family backing his innocence. Even so nothing significant enough to settle the conspiracy has been found or revealed.


"James Earl Ray" December 1, 2016

"James Earl Ray, 70, Killer of Dr. King, Dies in Nashville" Lawrence Van Gelder April 24, 1998

"Martin Luther King Jr. Assassination" 2010


Created with images by kevin dooley - "Blue afternoon"

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