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Saturday, April 04, 2009
It was 41 years ago today....

Today, April 4, marks a grim anniversary; the day Martin Luther King Jr. was slain on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

Life Magazine commemorates the day with a host of newly released photos from that day.

Thom Hartmann talked on Friday about the book he co-authored with a guy called Lamar Waldron, linking the murders of Dr. King, JFK and Robert Kennedy, via the Dallas-New Orleans Mafia, and a cadre of white supremacists:
The links all connect with the main contention in “Legacy of Secrecy” that the assassination was engineered by Carlos Marcello, longtime Mafia boss in New Orleans. That theory is far from new. There's evidence that Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the president's brother, believed it. Authors Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann broaden the theme.

Marcello had a special grudge against the Kennedys because Robert, who fought organized crime, once had him deported to an uncomfortable exile in Central America. Born in Tunisia, Marcello carried false papers that gave Guatemala as his country of origin. He soon found his way back to the United States.

... White supremacist Joseph A. Milteer had aroused suspicion when police recorded him predicting, less than two weeks before the assassination, that Kennedy would be killed by a high powered rifle with a telescopic sight, fired from an upper-floor window. That's the official version of what actually happened in Dallas. The new book says a proper investigation of the prediction could have led to Marcello through Milteer's contacts with Mafia figures, and might have frustrated the assassination.

Four years later, the book says, Marcello brokered a deal in which Milteer paid James Earl Ray to kill Martin Luther King Jr. It also finds that Marcello's biographer, John H. Davis, and journalist David E. Scheim made "compelling cases" for Marcello's involvement in the killing of Robert Kennedy.

Buy the book here. The assertions about Milteer paying James Earl Ray to kill Dr. King are apparently supported by newly released FBI files, which help explain how a hayseed like Ray was able to globetrot after the killing:

The recently-uncovered 1968 FBI files support new evidence showing that the late Joseph Milteer was one of four Georgia white supremacists who funded the assassination of Dr. King. Rep. Stokes's committee had actually investigated Milteer for the murder of President John F. Kennedy, because of a Miami Police undercover recording of Milteer made two weeks before Kennedy's death. On that November 9, 1963 tape, Milteer discussed a plan to "assassinate the President with a high-powered rifle from a tall building." On the same tape, Milteer also discussed an unsuccessful attempt to kill Dr. King. The FBI did not provide any information to Stokes's committee indicating they had looked at Milteer for the assassination of Dr. King. As a result, the Congressional committee didn't investigate Milteer for King's murder.

FBI files, along with other new information, indicate that Milteer and his white supremacist associates in Atlanta turned to the Mafia to "broker" the contract to kill Dr. King. The mobster involved was Louisiana/Texas godfather Carlos Marcello, who died in 1993. Congressional investigators uncovered statements and evidence indicating that in the months prior to Dr. King's murder, James Earl Ray was a low-level heroin runner for Marcello's drug network.

James Earl Ray's backing by Milteer and several associates in Atlanta explains for the first time why Ray--after shooting Dr. King in Memphis and fleeing to Canada--first made a 450-mile detour south to Atlanta, where Ray abandoned his getaway car only blocks from Dr. King's office and church. Ray then called one of Milteer's associates, and Milteer himself admitted in a letter that he was in the area when Ray abandoned his car. Authorities have long known that after killing King in Memphis, Ray was somehow able to flee to Canada, then to England, to Portugal, and back to England, where Ray was finally apprehended.

What's truly sad, is that Ray was able to convince members of the King family that he was innocent of the killing, and that King's widow went to her grave probably believing him.

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posted by JReid @ 11:07 AM  
Thursday, August 28, 2008
August 29, 1963

Barack Obama will make his historic acceptance speech tonight against the backdrop of history: it was 45 years ago today that Dr. Martin Luther King publicly dreamed of a day when someone like Barack could stand at the precipice of becoming president of the United States. It's a heavy burden for Obama to bear, and he's doing it not just in front of 75,000 people at Mile High Stadium (sorry, like any true Bronco fan, I just can't call it Invesco Field...) but before the world.

Best of luck tonight, Barack.

The WaPo has advance info on the speech:

Obama, 47, a first-term senator from Illinois, is scheduled to address as many as 80,000 people in Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High football stadium and millions of television viewers starting at about 8 p.m. Mountain time (10 p.m. EST).

In the speech, which caps the four-day Democratic National Convention and opens Obama's campaign for the White House as his party's nominee, Obama will offer "a fundamentally new direction to get America back on track, both here and around the world," said David Plouffe, his campaign manager. Appearing on morning television talk shows, Plouffe said Obama would explain his plans for dealing with the economy, health care and education, as well as international challenges such as threats to the United States and strained relations with other countries.

Politico on the significance for African-Americans (by the way, my pal Sonja ran into Al Sharpton at the Pepsi Center yesterday. Needless to say, he has no role this year...)

In 1961, Robert F. Kennedy predicted that the country could elect a black president in the next 40 years. That’s how fast race relations were changing in America, said the attorney general at the time.

Now, 47 years later, Barack Obama stands at the precipice of fulfilling Kennedy’s forecast. On Thursday, he’ll become the first minority to win the presidential nomination, achieving what many thought was impossible given our national obsession with race.

To call this a historic moment feels like understatement. Obama’s nomination represents a sea change, a psychological shift in a country that still struggles with the painful and complicated legacy of slavery.

Fifty-five years ago, whites and blacks learned in separate schools, ate at separate lunch counters and sat in different parts of the bus. Forty-one years ago, Massachusetts elected the first black man to the Senate. Just 18 years ago, Virginia welcomed the first black governor.

And on Thursday, a black man will step up to the podium and accept the nomination of a party that only 44 years ago debated whether to seat black delegates from Mississippi at the 1964 convention.

... and the reactions of black officials:

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)

“A few days ago, I was speaking to a group, and one young lady asked me, ‘What do you think Dr. King would say about Barack Obama’s nomination?’ I said, ‘Young lady, I don’t know, but I have a feeling he would look down and say, ‘Hallelujah.’”

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)

“I think my most emotional moment came the night of South Dakota and Montana. ... I was thinking about all those times I was telling people, ‘Be what you want to be when you grow up’ and, hell, I didn’t believe it. ... It’s a big moment and, with these sorts of things, you usually don’t expect to see the day.”

Meanwhile, damn the TV pundits, Biden's getting great reviews for his speech yesterday (including from me.) His everyman thing is real, and people are talking.



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posted by JReid @ 12:53 PM  
Friday, April 04, 2008
Booed, or not booed
The HuffPo says booed. Judge for yourself on the Youtubes one and two.

First, Fox News was kind enought to crop out the Black guy holding John McCain's umbrella:



Crooks and Liars goes with "lightly heckled," but their video, from CNN, leaves the brotha in:



Booed, or not boeed?

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posted by JReid @ 8:05 PM  
A grim, but poignant anniversary
My favorite picture of Martin Luther King Jr., sharing a
moment of normalcy with wife Coretta.


40 years ago today, Rev. Martin Luther King was shot to death as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Commemorations are taking place around the country, and in the media. King deservedly is a member of the pantheon of great American leaders, along with Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and others, he helped to build America into a modern, more moral nation that edges closer to its founding creed. So today...

The Washington Post assesses King's complex legacy.

The NY Times tells the story of the Penn Center in South Carolina, once a school for freed slaves, and later a refuge for Dr. King.

The History Channel online delves into the conspiracy theories surrounding King's assassination (Soledad O'Brien hosted a similar special on CNN last night, and the network is hosting a series called "Black in America".) THC's special airs Sunday night.

On Sunday night, Tom Brokaw hosts a special on King's life, death and legacy, also on The History Channel.

ABC runs the Associated Press piece asking, what if King had lived?

Over to MSNBC, where the First Readers report that John McCain and Hillary Clinton will be in Memphis today, but Barack Obama will not. I wonder if McCain will 'splain to the Memphis community just why he opposed the King holiday?

Meanwhile, NBC opens its archives on its coverage of MLK over the years.

On BlackAmericaWeb, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson says Barack Obama may be America's best hope of realizing King's vision.

Finally, if you haven't read it before, here's a link to one of the most important documents written by a modern American: King's letter from a Birmingham jail.

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posted by JReid @ 12:00 PM  
Friday, August 31, 2007
The Coretta King files
KHOU-TV in Houston uncovered nearly 500 pages of documents on the FBI's surveillance of Coretta Scott King, the late wife of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The documents include memos showing that the FBI shared intel on Ms. King with the U.S. military, mainly out of fear of her involvement with the anti-war movement. They also intercepted her mail, tapped her phonecalls to political leaders including New York Governor Nelson Rockefellar, and shared their findings with the White House, which apparently was concerned that Mrs. King just might be a communist.

This is fascinating stuff, particularly since the FBI claimed to the KHOU reporters that the agency has changed.

Really?

Well a funny thing happened on the way to the anti-war rally ... the FBI showed up! And according to information unearthed by the ACLU, they're keeping a mighty big database of not just anti-war protesters, but anyone seen as opposing any policy of President George W. Bush. And then there's the matter of Dubya's executive orders regarding the government's ability to seize the property of anyone Bush believes is interfering with his war.

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posted by JReid @ 7:53 AM  
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
It was 44 years ago today
That the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave this famed speech in the National Mall in Washington D.C. as 250,000 people marched for freedom and justice.

But what a lot of people omit, was another speech delivered that day -- a much more provocative one, by one John Lewis, then president of SNCC. The money quotes:
The revolution is at hand, and we must free ourselves of the chains of political and economic slavery. The nonviolent revolution is saying, "We will not wait for the courts to act, for we have been waiting hundreds of years. We will not wait for the President, nor the Justice Department, nor Congress, but we will take matters into our own hands, and create a great source of power, outside of any national structure that could and would assure us victory." For those who have said, "Be patient and wait!" we must say, "Patience is a dirty and nasty word." We cannot be patient, we do not want to be free gradually, we want our freedom, and we want it now. We cannot depend on any political party, for the Democrats and the Republicans have betrayed the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence.
Lewis was challenging the federal government, as was Dr. King, only in a much more confrontational way. I think it's important to remember that you needed both sides in order for the civil rights movement to work -- the spiritual and the provocative.

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posted by JReid @ 9:10 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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