Small business owners in cities across America remember the date of April 4, 1968, with the shock and horror of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and the riots in their cities because they were told that the FBI was involved in the assassination of King. The riots in over 100 American cities left many small businesses gutted and burned out for years after King was brutally murdered.
The present writer lived and worked in Atlanta in 1969 and saw much of the devastation first hand after the powerful leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr., was taken away from the nation. Rumors in Atlanta for years after the assassination said that a government conspiracy killed King. People lost their lives because of a lie.
The hardest hit small business area in the District of Columbia was the Georgia Avenue small business section near Howard University. Reviewing the area 10 years after the assassination showed that many small businesses were still gutted.
In 1993 President Bill Clinton took an historic walk on Georgia Avenue and brought attention to the need to revitalize the area nearly 20 years after King was assassinated. The small businesses that continue to operate 46 years after King was killed include Ben's Chili Bowl, the Florida Grill, Industrial Bank, and the Howard Theater.
The Georgia Avenue that President Clinton saw in 1993 was vastly different from the Georgia Avenue that he saw when he gave the commencement address at Howard University on May 11, 2013. In his visit 20 years later Clinton saw a new Georgia Avenue.
The rage and anger that led to people burning down stores in 1968 was most devastating to small businesses in the poorest neighborhoods. Many African-American small business owners placed signs in their windows that said, "Black owned and operated" hoping that rioters would take their anger and righteous indignation someplace else.
In Atlanta the wound was much deeper the year after King was silenced because Atlanta was his birthplace. In taking the bus across the city to go to Cross Creek Country Club the sight of the damage done by the riots was visible in the African-American community but vanished as the bus drove through the affluent communities where Cross Creek Country Club was located and where the present writer worked as an employee in 1969.
Today, 46 years after the brilliant leader was taken away, Georgia Avenue is alive with thriving small businesses. From Petworth to Gallery Place and beyond the renaissance of the small business sector shows no signs of the destruction angry rioters created after King was assassinated and conspiracy theories claimed the FBI and government were involved in his death.
Time heals all wounds. Although the nation remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for his amazing leadership and accomplishments, the sad and tragic memory of the riots that destroyed small business communities across the nation is gone and forgotten by those who did not walk through those communities in the aftermath of April 4, 1968.
The FBI had no involvement in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When he was unjustly imprisoned in Alabama Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy used the power of the Justice Department and the FBI to keep him from being killed. Nearly 50 years after his death, James Earl Ray, an admitted white racist, remains the only person ever convicted for the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After a year of study of the documentary evidence it is clear that the FBI had no involvement in the assassination.
The documentary Martin Luther King: A Death in Memphis provides all the evidence and interviews all the witnesses. The DVD also provides information that was not known in 1968. The DVD also has the final speech that King gave before he was assassinated. Watching King, only hours before he was killed, the viewer will hear and see the face of courage. Knowing there were threats against his life, King said that a man who has not found something that he is willing to die for is not fit to live.
As in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy there were and will always be questions left unanswered because both John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald were murdered before they could be brought to trial. However in the case of King, James Earl Ray lived 30 years after he was convicted of killing King. He was interviewed many times. The prisoner’s code of always saying, “I didn't do it, I am innocent, I've been framed,” is legend. There is James Earl Ray on the DVD saying, “I didn't kill Dr. King.”
So, again, the documentary turns to the evidence. The film has James Earl Ray’s rifle. The rifle is tested on screen. It is the rifle that killed Dr. King. It had James Earl Ray’s prints all over it. It was found near the door where James Earl Ray escaped from the rooming house where the shot was fired. Ray’s bag and clothes were found there. He admitted he stayed there. The DVD does discuss Hoover’s hated for King. However, there is no proof that Hoover was involved in King's death. It is true that Hoover collected salacious and sexually incriminating tape recordings. However, there is no evidence that J. Edgar Hoover or the FBI was involved in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Yet his death on April 4, 1968, did not stop his non-violent movement. King never used violence.
In his famous non-violent pledge, he asked his followers to:
1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
2. Remember always that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation not victory.
3. Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
4. Pray daily to be used by God in order that all men might be free.
5. Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all people might be free.
6. Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
7. Seek to perform regular services for others and for the world.
8. Refrain from the violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
9. Strive to be of good spiritual and bodily health.
10. Follow the directions of the movement and of the captain on a demonstration.
In light of the violence in our streets, I urge each of you to commit your lives to Dr. King's vision of non-violence. Never use violence.
The documentary allows viewers to watch the 54 minute presentation of facts and to make up their own mind. It allows viewers to listen to King in his final speech the night before he is killed. There have been many films of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The factor that makes Martin Luther King: A Death in Memphis so vital is that it does not try to solve the mystery of King’s death; it allows the viewer to decide. To get a copy of the DVD, Martin Luther King: A Death in Memphis, contact Christopher Collins, Business Development and Acquisitions, at Film Ideas. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may also go to the website at www.filmideas.com
Dr .Martin Luther King, Jr, (1929-1968) is remembered for the service and contributions that he gave to America.