Who’s the More Credible, Dexter King or David Garrow? You Decide.

Page 2

An Early Author’s Capitulation to “The Powers That Be”

(Excerpted from Who REALLY Killed Martin Luther King Jr.?, pp. 337-338)

Unfortunately, David J. Garrow’s partial revelations of Hoover’s malfeasance and assorted criminal acts abruptly stopped with King’s assassination. He did not address the closing episode of King’s life; there is little reflection evident as to the forces that came to bear on King’s murder in Memphis within Garrow’s book, despite the intensive examination of them up until that point. There were no references to James Earl Ray, Eric Galt, or any of Ray’s other aliases within his 1981 book, yet Garrow portrayed himself as the expert in later interviews on the subject. In not connecting anything he had examined up to 1968 with what happened next, he created a major disconnect. It was as if all of the lawlessness of the premier law enforcement agency in the United States stopped early in 1968. But it didn’t; it was just getting up to speed and would continue for many more years. This point was referenced in Chapter 3, where we cited the revelations made by whistleblower Frederick Whitehurst, as noted in the 2004 book The FBI & American Democracy: A Brief Criminal History by Athan Theoharis. Some indications of its continued existence still leak out on occasion.

Garrow acknowledged that Johnson was behind Hoover’s continuing smear efforts because he had exploited the perquisite of receiving fresh files—the recordings and transcripts thereof—directly from Cartha DeLoach, who routinely delivered them personally to the White House.[1] Garrow also noted Reverend Abernathy’s lament that the SCLC did not hold Johnson responsible for Hoover’s activities because they had considered Johnson a friend. He wrote that Abernathy and his associates were unaware of the fact that the Bureau’s conduct was actively backed by the president himself.[2]

Unfortunately for him, however, Garrow’s place in history will forever carry an asterisk because of how he criticized the King family for its “ignorance” in not accepting the official government story. Despite everything else he had discovered—even “how hostile the Johnson White House was toward King,” and LBJ’s fear that King might run for the presidency, either in 1968 or some future election[3]—it was still insufficient to cause him to recognize the intensity of Johnson’s and Hoover’s obsession to neutralize Dr. King. That apparently led him to minimize the possibility that either of them had anything to do with murdering King; evidently, he gave them both the benefit of the doubt and presumed that—despite the very facts of their combined vitriol, some of which he had personally chronicled—they would accomplish King’s destruction through more conventional extralegal methods, like simply besmirching his reputation.

Garrow’s naïveté was possibly due to how he had evidently fallen for the lies placed in the early books by authors Huie, Frank, and McMillan, never admitting his own ignorance about Ray. In a taped segment on MSNBC’s Time and Again, broadcast on April 3, 1997, he asserted, “I think it’s very sad that the King family and the King children are so uninformed of the history that they could be open to believing that Mr. Ray was not involved in Dr. King’s assassination. Mr. Ray was someone of long-standing racist, segregationist affiliations, and as the House Assassinations Committee very correctly concluded nineteen years ago, Mr. Ray was probably the trigger-man for a wider segregationist conspiracy to kill Dr. King.” [4] These multiple errors belie an uncritical, gullible mindset ill-befitting a scholar who had previously demonstrated an evaluative ability that seems to have since disappeared.

Even more lamentable than that is Mr. Garrow’s willingness—despite everything he had reported about the FBI’s many illegal and unconstitutional efforts to destroy Dr. King—to not accept the facts presented in the many books written by honest and truth-seeking researchers. His conclusions demonstrate his complete unawareness of the numerous anomalies present in the “Ray did it as a lone nut” canard. Like many others beguiled by the authors of the FBI’s fictions (which were part and parcel of the brazen attacks on Dr. King that he himself chronicled), his own ill-informed statements suggest that he based his opinions upon the easy-to-read, quasi-fictional books.

Dexter King’s response to Garrow’s comments began: “The fact of the matter is, I guess I’m really not surprised, because Mr. Garrow, for whatever reason, is doing his job, and frankly he is an agent for those forces of suppression, who do not want this truth to come forward . . . I think what is really appalling here is that Mr. Garrow has built a platform on exploiting my father’s legacy; if it were not for my family, Mr. Garrow would not have gained access to my father’s papers and many other things that have given him a platform to speak out . . . I met Mr. Ray, he is not a segregationist, I’ve met segregationists, this man was not born in the South as the media portrayed at the time, the fact of the matter is he was born in Illinois, I met his family, they are not people who strike me as racists; the fact of the matter is that this man was set up, and we need to deal with this so that we can move on. The American public deserves the right to know, and certainly the family of the victim deserves the right to know what happened to their loved one. We need to stop living in denial in this country and once and for all face this injustice.” [5]


[1] Garrow, David J., The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1981. p. 168

[2] Ibid., p. 169

[3] Ibid., p. 207

[4] See YouTube video “Martin Luther King’s son Dexter meets James Earl Ray, Patsy-Assassin of his father,” @ 5:25: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wHQZ1zyVxY.

[5] Ibid., @ 5:50–9.00 on timeline

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