Since today marks the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination, I want to bring up a highly intriguing detail from court transcripts of the King family’s 1999 wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government, City of Memphis, and State of Tennessee.
The next sentence will likely blow the minds of the uninitiated, so I would recommend reading this before proceeding.
Testimony You Didn’t Hear on Network Television
On page 1,176 in my copy of the transcripts, a member of the US Special Forces sniper team dispatched to track and shoot Dr. King in Memphis provided the following written testimony about his mission. I added punctuation marks to provide clarity:
“The only person I remember talking
to besides [CO, Name], was some guy who was the
head of the city — parentheses, Memphis tact
parentheses — tactical squad. I think his
first name was Sam.
[Name] put him on radio to describe to
us what was in that hotel — parentheses,
Lorraine. I do remember he saying friendlies
would not be wearing ties. Took that to mean
that somebody inside the King group as
So…Who Wasn’t Wearing a Tie on April 4th?
To repeat the testimony: “Friendlies would not be wearing ties.”
We already know that famed civil rights photographer, Ernest Withers, was an FBI informant, but your natural response to the testimony wouldn’t be surprising: “Who wasn’t wearing a tie on that day?”
A 2013 Commercial Appeal article may help to answer that question when it reviewed the last 32 hours of Dr. King’s life. This snippet referenced a conversation MLK had with civil rights leader, Rev. Jesse Jackson, just minutes before a sniper’s bullet ended King’s life:
“Jesse!” King sees his young aide down in the courtyard. Despite their recent fighting in Atlanta, he has invited Jackson to dinner. “You don’t even have on a shirt and tie.”
Reverend Jackson’s response:
“Dinner requires an appetite,” Jackson shouts up at king, “not a shirt and tie.”
song currently stuck in my head: “martin luther king, jr” – cecil payne
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