The Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.: How the Myths Were Created and Sustained for Fifty Years (Part 1)

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” 
“Truth crushed to earth will rise again.”

—Martin Luther King Jr.

Within my newest book, Who REALLY Killed Martin Luther King Jr.? The Case Against Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover, (Skyhorse Publications, May 1, 2018), I present what I refer to as the long-hidden “Rosetta Stone” of that case:  Proof that FBI leaders—in addition to what has long been known about how they surveilled and stalked Dr. King around the country as they conducted illegal wiretaps—had also gone to great lengths to plot his final demise.  As all of that was going on, they simultaneously brought three contemporary “acclaimed journalists” on board for the purpose of preparing the public to accept an “official story” about the alleged assassin that had no basis in fact.  The creation of the myths about James Earl Ray had begun well before King’s assassination and were based upon reframing his persona, from that of a backward, but non-racist, introvert with an eighth-grade level education, a country boy from Northwest Illinois—who had become a petty, small-time swindler and burglar, yet always non-violent in behavior—but morphed by them into a man portrayed as a vicious Southern racist who dreamt of national notoriety, a man who purportedly set out to fulfill his dreams by stalking and killing Martin Luther King Jr. 

The writers who were given this turn-around mission in 1968 by FBI leadership were William Bradford Huie, Gerold Frank and George McMillan. The lead-off assignment was given to author Huie, Gerold Frank was “on deck” for a 1972 follow-up and McMillan’s book was scheduled for 1976.  Decades before his involvement, through his lengthy association with FBI Director Hoover, Huie had proven that he possessed all of the “right stuff”—with a series of deceitful articles in 1956 on the infamous Emmett Till murder which had occurred in Mississippi in the summer of 1955. Through his famed “checkbook journalist” methods, Huie had paid thousands of dollars to the two men who had been acquitted of Till’s murder, for them to admit their guilt since they could not be retried, in the same Look magazine that he would use to create a new profile for James Earl Ray beginning in a three-article series starting in November 1968, ending in April, 1969 (decades later, as detailed within the book, the purported “victim” of Till’s advances admitted not only that he had not touched her, but that those men were not actually the murderers of Till . . . that she had protected the real murderer for six decades!  Huie’s involvement – his own self-promotion – had resulted in what can only be described as an outrageous act of journalistic fraud). It was this “checkered” background that qualified Huie for his most nefarious assignment in 1968.

Huie followed the Look articles with a 1970 book, He Slew the Dreamer, (changed from “They Slew . . .”) after his deceits caused Ray to fire him immediately after the first magazine article, knowing that Huie had turned on him, and was not writing his own, real story, as he had originally promised.  Huie’s book was followed two years later by Gerold Frank, and four years after that by George McMillan’s book, both of which built on Huie’s original lies and added even more deceits to them.  McMillan’s book, heavily promoted by Time magazine in two featured articles in January, 1976, came along just in time for a fresh update of Huie’s original myths just as the movement to establish the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) was being formed.

How Time magazine contributed to the sustenance of the myths to help the HSCA reach their conclusion that James Earl Ray was the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.

At about the same time, Huie himself decided to write a follow-up book (“Did the FBI Kill Martin Luther King?” published in June, 1977), which had a new “Introduction” and “Epilogue” but otherwise was simply a second edition of his first book.  Using the same patterns of mythmaking, within the new sections, he piled on even more lies and deceit, including the brazen assertion that his articles and first book “. . . explained how Reverend King was murdered by Ray. With Ray’s help and approval, I answered the questions as to where he got his money, how he obtained a Canadian passport, and what his motive was” (italics in original).  Huie once again unabashedly lied, this time about actually having Ray’s “approval,” knowing that, as a prisoner, he was in no position to object.

Ray had fired his first lawyer, Arthur Hanes, due to the inherent conflict of interest in the contracts that Huie and Hanes had originally entered to provide first-hand access to attorney-privileged information, though his complaint was not directly with Hanes: His intent was to get rid of Huie—which meant having to fire Hanes in the process—after reading his first magazine article in Look magazine on November 12, 1968.  The previous understanding that Ray had with Hanes and Huie was that the articles, and subsequent book, were supposed to be supportive of him; he found that the first article (of three being written) had violated his tepid “trust” in both of them, especially the oleaginous Huie.

Huie’s new book (the 1977 edition) was a last-ditch effort to redeem his previous fictional account in the wake of the enormous public reaction to the news released in 1975 from the Senate’s Church Committee about J. Edgar Hoover’s outrageous harassment of Dr. King, which caused many of King’s friends and staff members to join Coretta Scott King’s call for a new investigation of his murder, which rendered the FBI’s role in his assassination highly “suspect.”  Claiming that he was a “friend” of Dr. King, Huie had the temerity to write that, because Americans . . . “need the truth to save themselves from being hoodwinked, I have added this prologue and reissued He Slew the Dreamer. I have also added an epilogue which refutes the more recent lies being told mostly for the profit of the liars.”

Evidently beset with worries that his own lies might be revealed in the HSCA hearings then just beginning, his urgent “doth protest too much” reaction illustrates the truth of the adage of that phrase: “the opposite of what he is saying must be true.”  There was some merit to Huie’s concerns: Even after the HSCA was effectively defanged by the FBI’s and CIA’s “bought and paid-for” congressmen, one of Huie’s core lies was exposed when the committee  established that Ray was not the racist, “Negro-hating, habitual criminal named James Earl Ray” as portrayed in the first paragraph of his “Prologue” to his new book—the same theme that had been repeated throughout all of Huie’s previous articles and books. That theme was central to his entire portrayal of Ray’s alleged “motive” and was the basis for all of his other deceitful, provably false assertions throughout his original articles and both of his books (numerous proofs of this assertion are demonstrated within my own book).  Indeed, the one and only real accomplishment of the HSCA (i.e., the MLK sub-committee) was its determination that:

“The committee then interviewed approximately 30 prison associates of Ray. While some recalled that Ray had demonstrated anti-Black feelings [those who expected their opinions, thus their names, would appear in the newspaper and magazine accounts], the majority said he was not a racist. On balance, therefore, the committee viewed the inmate testimony as essentially inconclusive. It could not be relied on as proof that Ray harbored the kind of deep-seated, racial animosity that might, on its own, trigger the assassination of Dr. King.” (Italics added by author).

Unfortunately for posterity—ergo truth and justice for Martin Luther King Jr.—among its many mistakes, omissions and misdirections was the fact that the HSCA staff and investigators used only the completely fabricated, fictional accounts—not the fact-based, truthful, non-fiction books available at the time as noted below—on which to base their own perfunctory “investigation.” Huie’s book was cited dozens of times within the final report, in some cases seven or eight citations per page, nearly all of which essentially codified what began as bald-faced lies.

The fictional stories—clearly commissioned and directed by high officials of the FBI, as thoroughly demonstrated within my book—became accepted by a public hungry for another reassuring and simplistic answer to a senseless and treasonous tragedy. In time, these myths became a legend that was repeated and expanded, over and over again, by many other subsequent authors—including Gerold Posner and Hampton Sides, among others–each adding more fictional figments from their own repertoire. The original myths were strengthened with every positive book review and newspaper article and subsequent books by other similarly guided authors. Eventually, they collectively blended together in a generally accepted popular narrative with a life of its own. The lies and deceits at its foundation—as facts were long buried by the myths—gradually replaced practically the entire truth of actual events and have now become what is known as “official history.”

In the meantime, the far more truthful books, written by such early researchers as Harold Weisberg, Mark Lane and Dick Gregory, and later by Dr. William Pepper, John Avery Emison, and Dr. Philip Melanson, and James Earl Ray himself, as well as his brothers, including one by John Larry Ray with Lyndon Barsten, have been virtually ignored by a mainstream media intent on perpetuating the myths and ignoring real truths.  The same can be said for the original investigations by the FBI –of course, misdirected from the beginning to protect the guilty—the Department of Justice Task Force (in 1976, and again in 2000), and the House Select Committee on Assassinations (1977-1979).  In every case, they have ignored the truthful books while embracing the mythical stories.

Within my book, I’ve demonstrated how William Bradford Huie had drawn the attention of his readers—and the police, FBI, and other government investigators—into examining stalker theories that were nothing more than figments of his imagination, arguably the game-changing revelation of this book. For once and for all, it conclusively proves how the lies that Huie put into his book—complete fabrications made for the singular purpose of railroading James Earl Ray—became the accepted meme of an entire American culture.  Practically everyone in the country, and the world, who has an opinion about Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder believes that the “killer,” Ray, was a vicious southern racist and stalker of Dr. King. Nothing about that is accurate—not only was he not the killer, he wasn’t vicious, he was never a racist, and he wasn’t even a Southerner.  As conclusively proven within the book, James Earl Ray was absolutely not a stalker of Dr. King; in fact, he was completely oblivious as to where MLK was at any point in time, including the afternoon and evening of April 4, 1968 (at least, until he heard over the car radio that King had been shot and that the police were then looking for a man matching his own description, driving a “white Mustang” just like his. Only then did he realize that he had been “had” by his handler, “Raoul”).

Huie, and later the numerous other authors repeating his fiction, made a series of bald-faced lies, even referencing a series of news articles that purportedly stated things that they provably did not. When the earliest books were written—two to eight years after the murder of Dr. King—Huie counted on his hope that no one would track down the articles he cited.  These were not inadvertent mistakes; they were coldly calculated untruths, meant to transform a common man capable of relatively minor unlawful acts into a vicious murderer and stalker, which he was not.

Fortunately for truth-finders (but unfortunately for Huie’s scions and apologists) those lies have been revealed by something Huie had, during his own lifetime, no reason to fear: The existence of something called the Internet, which came along a few decades later, and made it easy to prove his key assertions were untrue.  Within Who REALLY Killed Martin Luther King Jr.? The Case Against Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover, it will be shown how the original distortions were accomplished, and why, as we demolish the foundation upon which they were constructed.  In its place, a compelling and corrected account will be presented, one which conforms to the truth as revealed in the accounts by the truth-telling researchers—Weisberg, Lane & Gregory, Melanson, Emison, Ray, Barsten and many other contributors—as noted above.

The larger perspective of the murder of Martin Luther King Jr.—as designed, plotted and executed by the highest-level men at the top of the hierarchy, at the FBI, CIA, Pentagon and White House—will be presented, conclusively proving that it could only have originated with the instigation of J. Edgar Hoover and Lyndon B. Johnson.  Their direct ties to the key actors—Johnson’s well-established linkage to Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington and Ray’s attorney Percy Foreman, and Hoover’s ties to Memphis Police and Fire Department Commissioner Frank Holloman, for example—are the glue that held the plot together in real time and now provide the proof of all the other connected links that ensured its success.

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