Crime & Punishment

Pausing to Remember a Fallen King

Hello everyone, it's Cheryl Corley, sitting in for Michel Martin today.

Today's show commemorating the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, assassination and the legacy of his life was a travel through so many moods and emotions — from the startling revelation from Martin Luther King, III, that he and his siblings learned their father had been shot while they watched the evening news on television to the continuing dispute over who was involved in King's slaying, to an examination of the civil rights leader's speaking styles.

The Rev. Martin Luther King's death shook this nation in so many ways, but as his son reminded us, the assassination was the most "tragic and traumatic" time of the King family's lives. Martin Luther King, III, continues the push for civil rights and runs an organization called Realizing the Dream, Inc. This week, he wrote an op-ed piece calling for the next president to appoint a cabinet level position to confront poverty head-on.

Former Congressman Louis Stokes joined us and recounted the findings of the House Select Committee on Assassinations which investigated both King's death and the assassination of President John Kennedy. The committee concluded that James Earl Ray was indeed the person who killed King but it also found there may have been a conspiracy. The congressman says the committee investigation, conducted in the late 1970s, came too late to identify any co-conspirators. Don't say that to William Pepper and Judge Joe Brown, though. They remain irate over the congressional results and have performed deep investigations of their own. Pepper was an attorney for Ray — who recanted his guilty plea almost immediately — and represented Ray as he sought a new trial. Judge Brown listened to those proceedings and testified himself during a civil trial, saying that the bullet that struck Dr. King did not match the gun Ray reportedly used.

We listened to just a bit of the Barbershop guys today on the show as they talked about Dr. King's legacy but their entire conversation is here on the web. Our last piece was a wonderful discussion Michel had with author Jonathan Rieder, which was more about the man than the myth of Dr. King. It was a chance to get a little behind the scenes peek at a King who was not on the stage but who still had "fire in his bones." The bonus: clips from a few speeches we don't often hear.

That's it for this week. Until the next time ... peace. Michel is back next week.

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