Family of MLK Won Lawsuit in Attempt to Change History Books

In what the New York Times called an “unlikely alliance,” the family of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hired the attorney of his convicted assassin.

You may need to re-read that first sentence, but that’s because this is one of the most underreported stories in American history.

The King family filed a civil suit in 1999 with James Earl Ray’s attorney William Pepper, in which a Memphis jury unanimously decided that Mr. Ray was not the shooter and that there were levels of involvement including federal, state, and local governments. The jury supported Pepper’s version of the story, which also claimed the media was compliant in a cover-up of the real story behind King’s assassination.

Dr. King’s son, Dexter King, had hoped to change the history books, and the family donated the $100 in winnings to charity.

According to one of the jurors, David Morphy, the jurors “all thought it was a cut and dried case” involving many people, citing even C.I.A. and military involvement.

John Campbell, an assistant district attorney who took part in the original case against Ray, even suggested the jury had no option but to accept Pepper’s version of the story.

According to CNN, after Ray’s death, the King family was “deeply saddened,” and claimed, “This is a tragedy not only for Mr. Ray, but also for the entire nation.”

This court case was not the first time that an official group had found the “official” story to be false. In 1978, a special congressional committee reported there was a likelihood that Ray did not act alone.

“I believe you, and my family believes you, and we will do everything in our power to see you prevail,” Dexter King told Ray, the convicted assassin, after meeting Ray in prison.

In a 1999 press conference regarding the trials verdict, King was quoted saying, “The question now is, ‘What will you do with that?’ We as a family have done our part. We have carried this mantle for as long as we can carry it. We know what happened. It is on public record. The transcripts will be available; we will make them available on the Web at some point. Any serious researcher who wants to know what happened can find out.”

During the same conference, Dr. King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, was quoted saying, “We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.” She also says there is “abundant evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband,” and that she “wholeheartedly applauds the verdict of the jury” highlighting that they only took an hour to make a decision due to the high level of evidence.

Today, King has made these transcripts available on the Internet from The King Center, of which he is President, Chairman, and CEO. More recent revelations reported by the Huffington Post show the FBI had sent letters to Dr. King urging him to commit suicide, furthering the family’s allegations of conspiracy.

While honoring Dr. King, we should never forget the true messages he conveyed or the wills of his family.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”


The Arthurian Answer is written and edited by Tim Arthur. Arthur has a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and Foreign Affairs with a minor in Communications. He spent his last semester at Walsh University writing and doing layout design for The Walsh University Spectator, the school’s newspaper. He has also done several pieces of original and groundbreaking research, one of which he has presented at the All Politics Is Local Conference at Walsh University, as well as the Ohio Association for Economists and Political Scientists conference, both of which were held in 2013.


  1. mirageseekr says:

    In this post Snowden times we live in it is time for the truth of our governments actions to come out so the people may reclaime their right to know the things that have been done in our name. Indeed the biggest threat to world peace is the U.S. government. Mainstream media has been complicit with the government for a very long time now. It isgood to see more and more truth telling alternatives. Nice job.

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