Readers Guide To MLK Assassination: Books, Videos, Archives


A new "Readers Guide to the MLK Assassination" provides key books, videos, documents, websites and other archives most relevant to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s murder on April 4, 1968.

Martin Luther King Measure of a Man coverIn a rare combination, the materials focus heavily on questions still remaining regarding responsibility and motive for King's shooting in Memphis, TN. Included also is research that explores the assassination's current implications for the U.S. justice system and other governance.

The materials contain varied perspectives. Readers can find evidence of injustice and official cover-up. But evidence is provided also for the official explanations and defenses of the official verdict that the late James Earl Ray, an ex-convict, acted alone to kill King with a single shot from a rooming house bathroom window.

The format thus parallels our 31-part Readers Guide to the JFK Assassination. Authorities have consistently maintained that Ray was a lone criminal, much like oft-disputed allegations against President John F. Kennedy's accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

William Pepper The Plot To Kill KingThe first installments of our MLK readers guide feature two timely elements as of this writing in mid-2016.

One is the announcement this spring of the new Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA) as a non-partisan citizen group advocating release of sealed records pertaining to major suspected political assassinations, including of King ("MLK") and Kennedy ("JFK"). This editor is one of CAPA's founding directors. Information from this website is expected to be excerpted on CAPA's site, subject to CAPA's review procedures from its board of scientific, historical, and legal experts.

Another development this spring is the scheduled June 21 publication of The Plot To Kill King, the third and final volume in a series by King's friend Dr. William F. Pepper, an attorney and educator who represented the accused killer James Earl Ray beginning in 1978.

Pepper has long argued that Ray was the designated patsy in a plot by King opponents to use contract killers from the Mafia to kill the civil rights leader, with a back up plan for an Army sniper team to kill King under secret orders if the Mafia killer missed.

The reasons? Pepper maintains that the murder was ordered because King was expanding his advocacy against war and economic injustice in ways far more threatening to elite interests than King's opposition to civil rights abuses via segregation and voting rights restrictions.

In remarkable sleuthing that resulted in evidence from whistleblowers and suspects, Pepper documented his argument in part via confessions.

Pepper described the killing in two previous books, most notably An Act of State (first published in 2003) based on the successful civil suit King v. Jowers that he litigated on behalf of King's surviving family members. A Shelby County jury deliberated less than an hour in 1999 to find that restaurant owner Lloyd Jowers was liable in the case. Jowers was one of the conspirators that Pepper describes as being persuaded to confess, at least in part. Pepper said he and the family regretted that a suit against Jowers appeared to be the only way to pursue the case because authorities would not do so.

Pepper says the murder occurred with backup support from federal, state and local government operatives who perpetrated a cover-up that continues for the most part to the present.

Pepper has said he never would have represented Ray unless he were "one hundred percent certain" of the accused man's innocence.

Pepper's new book is reputed to include explosive new allegations against named individuals, with details still under wraps. In May, Pepper outlined on a panel with me in New York City the pervasive nature of political assassinations in history, including Socrates and Julius Caesar. We shall report separately on that panel as the next installment of this series. 

William Pepper Act of StateKing's Death Warrant? Does Topic Still Inspire Fear?

Whatever the merits of Pepper's allegations and those like them, an enhanced and constantly updated Readers Guide should prove useful to researchers as the 50th anniversary of the MLK killing approaches in 2018.

The continued public suspicions about the death of King (as well as that of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and his brother Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, among others) have been fostered by the highly irregular legal procedures involving each of the three deaths, including suppression of relevant documents and fear among witnesses and investigators.

To appreciate the historical importance, it is necessary to outline the vast changes, fears and hopes occurring in the late 1960s from the Vietnam War along with the desegregation and the rest of the civil rights struggle, which including the rise of the women's rights movement.

The life-or-death consequences for many Americans of the military draft into the Vietnam War posed an especially emotional trigger point whereby traditional "patriotism" symbolized by military service clashed with the theory of non-violence advocated by King and his followers, drawing upon their study of Christianity and the then-recent political lessons from India's spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi, himself a victim of assassination.

King expanded his advocacy from civil rights to antiwar advocacy in a major speech in New York City on April 4, 1967. Some commentators believed his signed his death warrant with the 53-minute lecture "Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence," available here via

on video. King delivered his sermon exactly one year before his assassination. 

“A time comes when silence is betrayal,” King told the congregation of the Riverside Church, whose leadership had just taken a position against the war. "That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam."

This overview requires mention also of the demonstrable apathy and timidity of official investigators through the decades. The last major official investigation was by the U.S. Justice Department under the signature of Attorney General Janet Reno in 2000. It's boilerplate findings confirming for the most part previous findings appeared with little recognition.

We know even more about the inner-workings of the last major congressional investigation, which occurred in the 1970s following mind-boggling revelations regarding assassination, illegal surveillance and domestic propaganda by federal law enforcement, intelligence and affiliated agencies.

Richard SpragueThe House Select Committee on Assassinations began with fanfare before the 1976 elections to ride a wave of public interest in the abuses, particularly regarding the killings of President Kennedy and King.

But after the elections congress clearly became frightened over the implications of allowing Chief Counsel Richard Sprague, shown at left, to investigate the killings. His budget and other powers were so restricted that full investigations became impossible. He was told such restrictions would continue unless he resigned.

Sprague did so, along with Robert Tanenbaum, the top deputy in charge of the JFK part of the probe. The investigations continued under a new general counsel, Robert Blakey and a new committee chairman, the late Congressman Louis Stokes (D-OH).

Louis StokesBut Stokes (shown at right) was frightened of antagonizing authorities, according to insiders, and the announced findings broke little new ground in 1979. Tanenbaum has since denounced the JFK portion of the probe as far too timid, and Blakey has conceded that he was gulled by the CIA especially even though Blakey still believes Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK.  

More generally, this guide is a work in progress. Therefore, new materials and suggestions (including corrections) are welcome regarding the entries below.

Realistically, the guide cannot include every book, video, official proceeding or archive about such a major figure as King. An electronic format can make a long catalog especially difficult to read on computers and mobile devices. So, the guide seeks to focus on major works and research centers and that sample a full range of perspective. The guide begins with assassination research and  then moves to more general commentary on King's life and legacy, and their current implications.

MLK Assassination, Major Books

Ayton, Mel. A Racial Crime: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Potomac, 2007 (Archebooks, 2005).

Bailey, D'Army. Mine Eyes Have Seen: Dr. Martin Luther King's Final Journey. Towery, 1993.

Belzer, Richard, and David Wayne. Dead Wrong: Straight Facts on the Country's Most Controversial Cover-ups. Skyhorse, 2012.

Blair, Clay, Jr. The Strange Case of James Earl Ray: The Man Who Murdered Martin Luther King. Bantam, 1969.

JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass coverBlumenthal, Sidney and Harvey Yazijian, eds. Government By Gunplay: Assassination Conspiracy Theories From Dallas To Today. New American Library, 1976.

Bodden, Valerie. The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Creative, 2017.

Burns, Rebecca. Burial for a King: Martin Luther King Jr's Funeral and the Week That Transformed Atlanta and Rocked the Nation. Scribner, 2011.

Clarke, James W. American Assassins: The Darker Side of American Politics. Princeton University, 1982.

Collins, Terry Lee.The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.: April 4, 1968 (24-Hour History). Heinemann, 2014.

Curington, John as told to Michael Whittington. H.L. Hunt: Motive & Opportunity. 23 House, 2018.

Douglass, James, W. JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters. Touchstone, 2008.

Dyson, Michael Eric. April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Death and How it Changed America. Basic Civitas, 2008.

Emison, John Avery. The Martin Luther King Congressional Cover-Up: The Railroading of James Earl Ray. Pelican Publishing, 2014.

Frank, Gerold. An American Death: The True Story of the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Greatest Manhunt in Our Time. Doubleday, 1972.

Fulton, Christopher and Michelle Fulton. The Inheritance: Poisoned Fruit of JFK's Assassination, TrineDay, 2018.

Gabriel, Michael. James Earl Ray: The Last Days of Inmate #65477. Cat Yoga, 2004.

Garrow, David J. The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr.: From "Solo" to Memphis. Norton, 1981.

Gilbert, Ben W. , and the staff of The Washington Post. Ten Blocks from the White House: Anatomy of the Washington Riots of 1968. Praeger, 1968.

Honey, Michael K. Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign. Norton, 2007.

Huie, William Bradford. He Slew the Dreamer: My Search for the Truth About James Earl Ray and the Murder of Martin Luther King. Alabama Black Belt, 1997 (Delacorte / Thomas Nelson, 1968).

Jeffries, Donald. Hidden History. Skyhorse, 2016.

Kamin, Ben. Room 306: The National Story of the Lorraine Motel. Michigan State University, 2012.

Lane, Mark, and Dick Gregory. Code Name "Zorro'" The Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Prentice-Hall, 1977.

__________ Murder in Memphis: The FBI and the Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Thunder's Mouth, 1993.

Levingston, Steven. Kennedy and King: The President, the Pastor, and the Battle Over Civil Rights. Hachette, 2014.

Lomax, Louis E. To Kill A Black Man: the Shocking Parallel In the Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Holloway House, 1968.

McKnight, Gerald D. The Last Crusade: Martin Luther King, Jr., the FBI, and the Poor People's Campaign. Westview / HarperCollins, 1998.

McMillan, George. The Making of an Assassin: The Life of James Earl Ray. Little, Brown, 1976.

Melanson, Philip H. The Murkin Conspiracy: An Investigation into the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Praeger, 1989.

Philip Melanson MLK New Revelations cover__________ The Martin Luther King Assassination: New Revelations on the Assassination and Cover-up. Odonian, 1994.

McMichael, Pate. Klandestine: How A Klan Lawyer and Checkbook Journalist Helped James Earl Ray. Chicago Review, 2015.

Nelson, Phillip. Who Really Killed Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Case Against Lyndon Baines Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover. Skyhorse, 2018.

William Pepper Newton, Michael. A Case For Conspiracy. Holloway House, 1987 (1980)

Pepper, William F. Orders To Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King. Carroll and Graf, 1996.

__________ An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King. Verso, 2003.

__________ The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King. Skyhorse, 2016 (updated paperback 2018).

Posner, Gerald. Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Random House, 1998.

Potash, John and Fred Hampton Jr. (Foreword). The FBI War on Tupac Shakur and Black Leaders: U.S. Intelligence's Murderous Targeting of Tupac, MLK, Malcolm, Panthers, Hendrix, Marley. Progressive Left, 2008.

Ray, James Earl. Tennessee Waltz: The Making of a Political Prisoner. St. Andrew's, 1987.

Ray, James Earl. Who Killed Dr. Martin Luther King? The True Story by the Alleged Assassination. National Press, 1997.

Ray, Jerry, as told to Tamara Carter. A Memoir of Injustice by the Younger Brother of James Earl Ray, Alleged Assassin of Martin Luther King Jr. TrineDay. 2011. Afterword by Judge Joe Brown.

Ray, John Larry, and Lyndon Barsten. Truth at Last, from the brother of James Earl Ray: The Untold Story Behind James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Lyons. 2008.

Risen, Clay. A Nation on Fire: America in the Wake of the King Assassination. Wiley, 2009.

Rosenbloom, Joseph. Redemption: The Last Journey of Martin Luther King, Jr. Beacon, 2018.

Ryan, P.I. The Boys of Birmingham. Jimerson, 2009.

Savastano, Carmine. Two Princes and a King: A Concise History of Three Assassinations. Neapolis Media, 2016.

Peter Dale ScottScott, Peter Dale (shown in a file photo). The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on U.S. Democracy. Rowman and Littlefield, 2014.

Scott, Peter Dale, Paul L. Hoch and Russell Stetler. Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond: A Guide To Cover-Ups and Investigations. Random House, 1976.

Sides, Hampton. Hellhound on His Trail: The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History. Doubleday, 2010.

Siegenthaler, John. A Search For Justice. Aurora, 1971.

Smiley, Tavis, and David Ritz. The Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Year. Back Bay, 2016.

Sokol, Jason. The Heavens Might Crack: The Death and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Basic Books, 2018.

Swanson, James. Chasing King's Killer: The Hunt For Martin Luther King Jr.'s Assasin. Scholastic, 2018.

Ventura, Jesse, Russell, Dick. American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies that the Government Tells Us. Skyhorse, 2013.

Waldron, Lamar and Thomas Hartmann. Legacy of Secrecy. The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination. Counterpoint, 2008.

Weisberg, Harold. Frame-up: The Assassination of Martin Luther King. Skyhorse, 1993 (1970). Postscript by James Earl Ray.

Weisbrot, Robert. Martin Luther King: The Assassination. Carroll & Graf, 1993.

Wexler, Stuart and Larry Hancock. The Awful Grace of God: Religious Terrorism, White Supremacy, and the Unsolved Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. Counterpoint, 2012.

Wilson, Donald G. Evidence Withheld: The True Story in the FBI Cover-up of the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Outskirts, 2013.

Withers, Ernest C. I Am A Man. Photographs of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike and Martin Luther King Jr. Memphis, 1993.

Selected Assassination-Related Videos


CBS via YouTube,

. Dan Rather. (1977) (4:07 min.).


A&E Networks. James Earl Ray: The Man and the Mystery. 1998 (DVD) (50 mins.)


C-SPAN, Book Discussion on "An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King," Jan. 28, 2003. William Pepper talked about his book An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, published by Verso. The book is about his friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr., their work together in opposing the Vietnam War and on the Poor Peoples Campaign, and Dr. King’s assassination. Mr. Pepper argues that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of assassinating Dr. King, was only a “patsy” and that the men who conspired to kill Dr. King — at least one of whom is still alive -- have never been brought to justice. Mr. Pepper also talks about the 1999 wrongful death lawsuit brought, and won, by the King family against Memphis restaurant owner Lloyd Jowers, on the grounds that he conspired to kill Dr. King. Pepper answered questions from members of the audience following his remarks.

History Channel.

(45 mins.). 2003.


Smithsonian Channel. MLK: The Assassination Tapes. (DVD). (46 mins.) 2012

Selected MLK Major Works (General Life and Legacy)

By Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. Beacon, 2010 (Harper, 1958).

__________The Measure of a Man. Literary Licensing, 2013 (Christian Education, 1959).

__________ Strength to Love. Fortress, 2010 (Harper & Row, 1963). 

MLK __________ Why We Can't Wait. Dorothy Cotton, intro. Beacon, 2011 (New American Library, 1964).

__________ The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Vols. I-VII, Clayborne Carson, senior ed. University of California, 1992-2014.

__________ Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? Vincent Harding, intro., and Coretta Scott King, frwd. Beacon, 2010 (Harper & Row, 1967).

__________ The Trumpet of Conscience. Coretta Scott King, fwd. Marian Wright Edelman, new frwd. Beacon, 2010 (Harper & Row, 1968). Five 1967 lectures for the Massey Series of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

__________ A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. Washington, James M., ed. HarperOne, 2003 (1986).

__________ The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Clayborne Carson, ed. Turtleback, 2001 (Warner, 1998).

__________ All Labor Has Dignity. Michael K. Honey, ed. Beacon, 2012. 2011. 

__________ "Thou, Dear God": Prayers That Open Hearts and Spirits Collection of Dr. King's Prayers. Lewis V. Baldwin, ed. Beacon, 2011.

__________ The Radical King. Cornel West, ed. Beacon, 2016.


Selected MLK Major Speeches

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.




. Aug. 28, 1963, Washington, DC. (Video, 5:17 min.)

__________ A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Clayborne Carson and Peter Holloran, eds. Warner, 2000 (Audio cassette). 


MLK Biographies and Histories, Selected Major Works

Taylor Branch Parting the Waters coverAbernathy, Ralph D. And the Wall Came Tumbling Down. Harper & Row, 1989.

Adelman, Bob (photographer), introduced by Charles Johnson. MLK: A Celebration in Word and Image. Beacon, 2011.

Ansbro, John J. Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Making of a Mind. Orbis, 1982.

Bagley, Edythe Scott, with Joe Hilley. Desert Rose: The Life and Legacy of Coretta Scott King. University of Alabama, 2012.

Bailey, D'Army. Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: Dr. Martin Luther King's Final Journey. Towery, 1993.

Baldwin, Lewis V., and Amiri Yasin Al-Hadid. Between Cross and Crescent: Christian and Muslim Perspectives on Malcolm and Martin. University of Florida, 2002.

__________ The Voice of Conscience: The Church in the Mind of Martin Luther King, Jr. Oxford University, 2010.

Beifuss, Joan T. At the River I Stand: Memphis, 1968 Strike, and Martin Luther King. B &W, 1998 (St. Lukes, 1990).

Bennett, Lerone, Jr. What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929-1968. Johnson, 1964 (4th rev. ed. 1976).

Bishop, Jim. The Days of Martin Luther King, Jr. Putnam's, 1971.

Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63. Simon & Schuster, 1988.

__________ Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65. Simon & Schuster, 1999.

__________ At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-1968. Simon & Schuster, 2007.

MLK Papers, Vols. I-VII, University of CaliforniaBurns, Stewart. To the Mountaintop: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Mission to Save American: 1955-1968. HarperSanFrancisco, 2004.

Carson, Clayborne. In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s. Harvard University, 1981.

__________, co-author, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Encyclopedia. Greenwood, 2008.

__________ Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. A Memoir. Palgrave MacMillan, 2013.

Clark, Kenneth B. King, Malcolm, Baldwin. Wesleyan University, 1985. [Originally, The Negro Protest. Beacon, 1963.]

Clayton, Edward T. Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior. Prentice-Hall, 1970.

Clemens, Thomas C. Martin Luther King: Man of Peace. U.S. Information Agency, 1965.

Cone, James H. Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare. Orbis, 1991.

Davis, Lenwood G. I Have a Dream: The Life and Times of Martin Luther King. Negro Universities, 1969.

Dyson, Michael Eric. I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr. Free Press, 2000.

Fager, Charles. Uncertain Resurrection: The Poor People's Washington Campaign. William Eerdmans, 1969.

Fairclough, Adam. To Redeem the Soul of America: The SCLC and Martin Luther King, Jr. University of Georgia, 1987.

Frady, Marshall. Martin Luther King, Jr.: A Life. Penguin, 2005.

Coretta Scott King Garrow, David J. Protest at Selma: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Yale University, 1978.  

__________ Martin Luther King, Jr.: Challenging America at its Core. Democratic Socialists of America, 1983.

__________ The F.B.I. and Martin Luther King, Jr.: From "Solo" to Memphis. Penguin, 1983.

__________ Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. William Morrow, 1986. (2015).

Goodwin, Bennie E. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: God's Messenger of Love, Justice and Hope. Goodpatrick, 1976.

Green, Robert I. The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Witchita State University, 1973. Hanigan, James P. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Foundations of Nonviolence. University Press of America, 1984.

Jackson, Thomas F. From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice. University of Pennsylvania, 2009. Jackson,Troy. Becoming King: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Making of a National Leader. University of Kentucky, 2008. Johnson, Charles, and Bob Adelman. King: The Photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Viking Studio, 2000 Jones, Clarence B. What Would Martin Say?  HarperCollins, 2008.

__________ Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation. Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011.

King, Coretta Scott. My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1969.

King, Coretta Scott as told to Barbara Reynolds. My Life, My Love, My Legacy. Holt, 2018.

King, Martin Luther, Sr., with Clayton Riley. Daddy King: An Autobiography. William Morrow, 1980.

Kondrashov, Stanislav. The Life and Death of Martin Luther King. Progress, 1981.

Kotz, Nick. Judgment Day: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Laws That Changed America. Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

Lee, Chana Kai. For Freedom's Sake: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer, 1917-1977. University of Illinois, 1999.

Lewis, David Levering. King: A Critical Biography. University of Illinois, 2012 (3rd ed.) (Praeger, 1970).

Lokos, Lionel. House Divided: The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King. Arlington House, 1968.

Margolick, David. The Promise and the Dream: The Untold Story of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Rosetta, April 3, 2018.

McKee, Don. Martin Luther King, Jr. Putnam's, 1969.

McWhorter, Diane. Carry Me Home : Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution. Simon & Schuster, 2013 (2001).

__________ A Dream Of Freedom. Simon & Schuster, 2004. 

Miller, William R. Martin Luther King, Jr. Weybright & Talley, 1968.

Muller, Gerald F. Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil Rights Leader. Denison & Co., 1971.

Oates, Stephen B. Let the Trumpet Sound: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Harper & Row, 1982.

Peck, Ira. The Life and Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholastic, 1968.

Ransby, Barbara. Ella Baker and the Black Radical Tradition. University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

Jonathan Rieder Gospel of Freedom coverRieder, Jonathan. Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation. Bloomsbury, 2014.

Slack, Kenneth. Martin Luther King. SCM, 1970.

Smith, Ervin. The Ethics of Martin Luther King. Edwin Mellin, 1970.

Tweedle, John. A Lasting Impression: A Collection of Photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr. University of South Carolina, 1983.

Walton, Hanes, Jr. The Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Greenwood, 1971.

Westin, Alan F., and Barry Mahoney. The Trial of Martin Luther King, Jr. Crowell, 1974.

Witherspoon, William R. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- To the Mountaintop. Doubleday, 1985.

Selected MLK Videos

C-SPAN Martin Luther King, Jr. Archives, Washington, DC. The cable-funded public affairs channel provides an extensive archives of shows illuminating all major points of view. The site has search functions, and indexing categories for clips, people, and legislation. As of 2016, its search feature contained more than 530 videos related to Dr. Martin Luther King and his legacy and 3,200 videos with text.

Selected Music

Wikipedia, Abraham, Martin and John is a 1968 song written by Dick Holler and first recorded by Dion. It is a tribute to the memory of four assassinated Americans, all icons of social change, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. It was written in response to the assassination of King and that of Robert Kennedy in April and June 1968, respectively. Each of the first three verses features one of the men named in the song's title, for example:

"Anybody here, seen my old friend Abraham — Can you tell me where he's gone? He freed a lot of people, but it seems the good die young But I just looked around and he's gone."

After a bridge, the fourth and final verse mentions Robert "Bobby" Kennedy, and ends with a description of him walking over a hill with the other three men.


.be" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mahalia Jackson sings "Abraham, Martin and John" (audio). The Queen of Gospel Music with one of her greatest songs. This song attracted the greatest entertainers to shout out their thanks and sadness -- each in their own way. Many who sang it best have now joined Abraham, Martin and John -- Mahalia, Sammy Davis, Whitney Houston, Moms Mabley and others [Dion DiMucci]. But, the song will never die for those who embrace freedom and equality for ALL people and are brave enough to shout it out for themselves and for all who cannot shout.


, Dion DiMucci (audio).


, Marvin Gaye (audio).

YouTube, Abraham, Martin And John, Smokey Robinson Performs at the White House Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement (audio and video) on Feb. 9, 2010 (4:57 mins.). At the White House, President Obama and the First Lady hosted a night of music that inspired and reflected the Civil Rights Movement. Performers included Yolanda Adams, Joan Baez, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir, and The Freedom Singers. Details from the Obama White House Archives.

Selected Related Books

Russ Baker coverAli, Muhammad. The Greatest. Random House, 1975.

Barboza, Steven. American Jihad: Islam After Malcolm X. Doubleday, 1994.

Caro, Robert A. The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent. Knopf, 1990.

Carson, Clayborne et al., general ed. The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, and Firsthand Accounts from the Black Freedom Struggle, 1954-1990. Penguin, 1991. Comprehensive anthology of primary documents spanning the civil rights movement.

Carter, Dan T. The Politics of Rage: George Wallace, the Origins of the New Conservatism, and the Transformation of American Politics. Simon & Shuster, 1995.

Chestnut, J.L., and Julia Cass. Black in Selma: The Uncommon Life of J.L. Chestnut, Jr. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1990.

Churchill, Ward, and Jim Vander Wall. The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's War Against Dissent in the United States. South End, 1990.

Church, Sen. Frank. Supplemental Detailed Staff Reports on Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans, Report. No. 94-755, U.S. Senate. Government Printing Office, 1976.

DeLoach, Cartha "Deke." Hoover's FBI: The Inside Story by Hoover's Trusted Lieutenant. Regnery, 1995.

Donner, Frank J. The Age of Surveillance: The Aims and Methods of America's Political Intelligence System. Knopf, 1980.

Eliff, John T. The Reform of the FBI Intelligence Operations. Princeton University, 1979.

Fager, Charles. Selma, 1965. Beacon, 1985 (Scribner's, 1974).

Frady, Michael. Jesse: The Life and Pilgrimage of Jesse Jackson. Random House, 1996.

Fulbright, Senator J. William. The Vietnam Hearings. Vintage, 1966.

Gilliard, Deric. A. Unsung: Living in the Shadows of a Legend: Heroes and 'Sheroes' Who Marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Gilliard Communications, 2003.

Goldman, Peter. The Death and Life of Malcolm X. University of Illinois, 1979.

Halberstam, David. The Powers That Be. Knopf, 1979.

Hampton, Henry, and Steve Fayer. Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s. Bantam, 1990.

Hauser, Thomas. Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times. Simon & Schuster, 1991.

Hougan, Jim. Spooks: The Haunting of America, The Private Use of Secret Agents. William Morrow, 1978.

Lewis, Congressman John. Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement. Simon & Schuster, 1998.

Malcolm X. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Grove, 1964.

Marshall, Burke. Federalism and Civil Rights. Columbia University, 1964.

Reinhold NiebuhrNelson, Jack, and Jack Bass. The Orangeburg Massacre. World, 1970.

Nieburh, Reinhold (shown at left in file photo). Moral Man and Immoral Society. Scribner's, 1932.

Piven, Frances F., and Richard Cloward. Poor People's Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail. Pantheon, 1979.

Raines, Howell. My Soul Is Rested: Movement Days in the Deep South Remembered. Putnam, 1977.

Reynolds, Barbara A. Jesse Jackson: The Main, the Movement, the Myth. Nelson-Hall, 1975.

Rustin, Bayard. Report on Montgomery, Alabama. War Resisters League, 1956.

__________ Down the Line. Quadrangle, 1971.

Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. A Thousand Days. Houghton Mifflin, 1965.

Schuck, Peter H. Diversity In America. Belknap / Harvard University, 2003.

Sullivan, William C., with Bill Brown. The Bureau: My 30 Years With Hoover's FBI. Norton, 1979.

Anthony SummersSummers, Anthony (shown at left). Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover. Putnam's, 1993.

Tucker, David M. Black Pastors and Leaders: Memphis, 1819-1972. University of Tennessee, 1980.

Dr. Cyril WechtU.S. House of Representatives. Hearings, Select Committee on Assassinations (12 vols.). U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979.

Wallace, George C. Hear Me Out. Droke House, 1968.

Wecht, Cyril H., M.D., J.D. (past president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences,) (shown in lab at right), with Mark Curriden and Benjamin Wecht. Cause of Death: A Leading Forensic Expert Sets the Record Straight on JFK, RFK, Jean Harris, Mary Jo Kopechne, Sunny von Bulow, Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, and Other Controversial Cases. Dutton, 1993.

Weisbrot, Robert. Freedom Bound: A History of America's Civil Rights Movement. Penguin, 1991.

Wilkins, Roger. A Man's Life: An Autobiography. Simon & Schuster, 1982.

Woodward, C. Vann. The Strange Career of Jim Crow. Oxford University, 1974 (1955).

Young, Andrew. An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America. HarperCollins, 1996.

Zinn, Howard. SNCC: The New Abolitionists. Beacon, 1965.

Selected Civil Rights Videos

PBS Eyes on the Prize se4riesPublic Broadcasting Service (PBS), Eyes on the Prize (1987). Executive Producer: Henry Hampton. "Eyes on the Prize" is an award-winning 14-hour television series produced by Blackside and narrated by Julian Bond. Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, the series covers all of the major events of the civil rights movement from 1954-1985.

Series topics range from the Montgomery bus boycott in 1954 to the Voting Rights Act in 1965; from community power in schools to "Black Power" in the streets; from early acts of individual courage through to the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions.

When "Eyes on the Prize" premiered in 1987, the Los Angeles Times called it "an exhaustive documentary that shouldn't be missed." The series went on to win six Emmys and numerous other awards, including an Academy Award nomination, the George Foster Peabody Award, and the top duPont-Columbia award for excellence in broadcast journalism.

"Eyes on the Prize" was created and executive produced by Henry Hampton (1940-1998), one of the most influential documentary filmmakers in the 20th century. His work chronicled America's great political and social movements and set new standards for broadcast quality. Blackside, the independent film and television company he founded in 1968, completed 60 major films and media projects that amplified the voices of the poor and disenfranchised. His enduring legacy continues to influence the field in the 21st century.

  • Series Description. Access an episode-by-episode guide to the television series.
  • Transcripts and Credits. Download transcripts for the entire series, and see production credits.
  • Reviews. Find out what the press had to say about "Eyes on the Prize" when it first aired.
  • Further Reading. Access a list of books and Web sites relating to the civil rights movement.
  • Partners. Find out more about the people and organizations behind "Eyes on the Prize."

Justice Integrity Project "Readers Guide to the MLK Assassination:

  1. Justice Integrity Project, Readers Guide To The MLK Assassination: Books, Videos, Archives, Andrew Kreig, May 26, 2016. The Justice Integrity Project presents a "Readers Guide to the MLK Assassination" of key books, videos, documents, websites and other archives most relevant to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s murder on April 4, 1968.
  2. Justice Integrity Project, Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Enhanced By Historic Discovery, Andrew Kreig, Jan. 18, 2016. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is forever enhanced Martin Luther King at NPCby discovery of a 24-minute recording of his first meeting with the national media, which occurred during a 1962 speech that was the first ever by an African American at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. To help celebrate King’s birthday on the Jan. 18 national holiday, the club unveiled the long lost recording last week along with riveting commentary by other civil rights pioneers. They included Simeon Booker, 97, an African American reporter who arranged the speech as a member of the club in the still-segregated nation's capital. 

MLK Biographies: Online

Bio, Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Activist, Minister (1929–1968). Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and social activist, who led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

Assassination and Legacy

Martin Luther King postage stampBy 1968, the years of demonstrations and confrontations were beginning to wear on Martin Luther King Jr. He had grown tired of marches, going to jail, and living under the constant threat of death. He was becoming discouraged at the slow progress civil rights in America and the increasing criticism from other African-American leaders. Plans were in the works for another march on Washington to revive his movement and bring attention to a widening range of issues. In the spring of 1968, a labor strike by Memphis sanitation workers drew King to one last crusade

. On April 3, in what proved to be an eerily prophetic speech, he told supporters, "I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land."

The next day, while standing on a balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel, Martin Luther King Jr. was struck by a sniper's bullet. The shooter, a malcontent drifter and former convict named James Earl Ray, was eventually apprehended after a two-month, international manhunt. The killing sparked riots and demonstrations in more than 100 cities across the country. In 1969, Ray pleaded guilty to assassinating King and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. He died in prison on April 23, 1998.

Seattle Times, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. The Seattle Times maintains a rich site devoted to Martin Luther King, Jr. including Perspectives, a section that considers King's influence through personal essays, student compositions and a dialogue between third grade classes in Birmingham, AL and Kent, WA.

Wikipedia, Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He Martin Luther King on riotsis best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.

King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, serving as its first president. With the SCLC, King led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia (the Albany Movement), and helped organize the 1963 nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King also helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. There, he established his reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history.

On October 14, 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. In 1965, he helped to organize the Selma to Montgomery marches, and the following year he and SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In the final years of his life, King expanded his focus to include poverty and speak against the Vietnam War, alienating many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled "Beyond Vietnam."

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People's Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971, and as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington State was also renamed for him. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.

Accused Killer James Earl Ray Biography Online

James Earl Ray 1955 prisonWikipedia, James Earl Ray (March 10, 1928 – April 23, 1998) was an American convicted of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Ray was convicted on his 41st birthday after entering a guilty plea to forgo a jury trial. Had he been found guilty by jury trial, he would have been eligible for the death penalty. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison. He later recanted his confession and tried unsuccessfully to gain access to a retrial. In 1998, Ray died in prison of complications due to chronic hepatitis C infection.

MLK Friend and Family Counsel Dr. William F. Pepper

Wikipedia, William F. Pepper. William Francis Pepper (born August 16, 1937) is an attorney based in New York City who is most noted for his efforts to prove the innocence of James Earl Ray in the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sirhan Sirhan in the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. He is also the author of several books. He has been active in other government conspiracy cases including the 9/11 Truth movement and has advocated that George W. Bush be charged with war crimes.

Pepper received a B.A. and M.A. from Columbia University, Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts and J.D. law degree from Boston College. He was admitted to the bar in 1977.William Pepper and Martin Luther King Jr. In addition to his United States practice he is a non-practicing barrister in the United Kingdom. 

Martin Luther King Jr. contacted Pepper after seeing a photo essay Pepper had published entitled "The Children of Vietnam" published in the January 1967 issue Ramparts magazine depicting victims of napalm in Vietnam. Pepper later stated that the contact contributed to King's more adamant position against the Vietnam War. Pepper was present at King's April 4, 1967 Riverside Church speech in which King launched a strong campaign against the war. The two are shown in a file photo from that era.

William Pepper The Plot To Kill KingPepper thought that King's assassination was part of a government conspiracy and became James Earl Ray's last attorney. He postulated that Ray was framed by the FBI, the CIA, the military, the Memphis police and organized crime figures from New Orleans and Memphis. He publicized his position in books and represented James Earl Ray in a televised mock trial in an attempt to get Ray the trial that he never had. Ray was found not guilty in the mock trial, though actually convicted of King's assassination.

Through his writing, King's son, Dexter King, took up the cause to prove Ray was innocent. Sample news coverage of major cases, and his first book on the King case, Orders to Kill:

New York Times, Dr. King's Slaying Finally Draws A Jury Verdict, but to Little Effect, Kevin Sack with Emily Yellin, Dec. 10, 1999. When 12 jurors returned their decision in a wrongful death trial in Memphis on Wednesday afternoon, they became the first jury to hold someone responsible for playing a role in the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968.

But with key players dead, with confessions recanted and altered, and with a vast conspiracy alleged but not proved, Wednesday's verdict in the civil trial of Loyd Jowers seems unlikely, ultimately, to untangle the knot of fact and theory surrounding one of the century's most traumatic events.

The finding came after a four-week trial that was notable for the passivity of the defense, the prevalence of second-hand and third-hand accounts and the propensity of the judge and jurors to apparently nod off during testimony. At one point, Judge James E. Swearengen of Shelby County Circuit Court allowed unsworn testimony from a 1993 mock television trial of Mr. Ray to be introduced as evidence.

Despite the unusual nature of the Memphis trial, Dr. King's widow and children exulted today in the verdict, saying it vindicated their nearly three-year effort to revive the investigation into his killing.  

CNN, Attorneys for RFK convicted killer Sirhan push 'second gunman' argument, Michael Martinez and Brad Johnson, March 13, 2012. If there was a second gunman in Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's assassination, who was it? Lawyers for convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan claim their client did not fire any of the gunshots that struck the presidential candidate in 1968. And in their latest federal court filing, they also rule out another man some have considered a suspect -- a private security guard named Thane Eugene Cesar, who was escorting Kennedy at the time he was shot.

Attorneys William Pepper and Laurie Dusek insist someone other than their client, Sirhan, fatally shot Kennedy. They now say the real killer was not Cesar, a part-time uniformed officer long suspected by some conspiracy theorists of playing a sinister role in the senator's murder. Pepper and Dusek made the claim in papers submitted to a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles late last month.

Publishers Weekly on Orders To Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King (Carroll and Graf, 1996; promo for audio book shown at right):

William Pepper Pepper, attorney since 1988 for James Earl Ray, the convicted killer of Martin Luther King Jr., believes that his client was a patsy, not the real assassin. He charges that the civil rights leader slain in 1968 was the victim of a conspiracy that involved Hoover's FBI, the CIA, Army intelligence, the mafia and the Memphis, Tenn., police force, extending to the highest levels of the federal government, which viewed King as a dangerous revolutionary.

Pepper has interviewed many new witnesses who remained silent during the last 27 years, and he names names of officials at the local and national levels who, he alleges, participated in the conspiracy. According to Pepper, a team of U.S. Army Special Forces snipers was at the scene, taking aim at King at the same moment as a back-up "civilian" assassin. The Army team, by this account, had orders to kill both King and the Reverend Andrew Young, but the final order to pull the trigger was never given because the "civilian" assassin-tentatively identified here as one Raul Pereira, not Ray-shot King first.

Pepper interviewed two former Special Forces members who claim to have been part of the sniper squad. He also cites two failed, government-orchestrated attempts to assassinate King in 1965, as well as a subsequent mafia contract on the civil rights leader's life by New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello. Pepper wants a trial for Ray, who, he asserts, was coerced into pleading guilty by his lawyer; the defense, he notes, has never even been allowed to test the rifle or bullets in evidence.

Government Reports


U.S. Congress. Senate Committee on Government Operations, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The Poor People's March on Washington, DC. 90th Cong., 2nd sess., 1968.


U.S. Congress. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights. FBI Counterintelligence Programs. 93rd Cong., 2nd sess., 1974.


U.S. Congress. Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities ("The Church Committee," chaired by Sen. Frank ChurchSen. Frank Church (D-ID), D-ID, shown in a file photo). Final Report: Book II, Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans. 94th Cong., 2nd sess., 1976. Details.


U.S. Department of Justice. Report of the Department of Justice Task Force to Review the FBI Martin Luther King, Jr. and Assassination Investigations. January 11, 1977.


U.S. Congress. House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). Investigation of the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. 95th Cong., 1st sess., 1979. Bantam, 1979. Committee Chairman: Louis Stokes (D-OH), shown in an official photo. Louis Stokes


U.S. Department of Justice. Investigation Regarding the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. ("DOJ Attorney General's Report"). June, 2000.

Court Cases


State of Tennessee v. James Earl Ray, Shelby County, Div. III.

This was the major criminal court case against accused killer James Earl Ray. He pleaded guilty in 1969 in Shelby County, TN, but then attempted unsuccessfully to withdraw his plea there days later. He used many appellate actions, some before a sympathetic judge who lost control of the case via a higher court ruling that the judge had become biased towards arguments by Ray.


James Earl Ray's conviction and related issues spawned many civil actions, including his unsuccessful effort to withdraw his guilty plea three days after entry. Ray, with just an eighth grade education, argued that authorities and his attorney had unduly pressured him with the argument he was certain to receive the death penalty unless he avoided trial.

From a historical perspective, most important of the related civil cases was a verdict that that King family won in the case King v. Jowers. against a restaurant operator, Lloyd Jowers, a former Memphis policeman found liable for assisting in the murder of King. Based in significant part on an investigation by King attorney William Pepper (and as recounted in his 2003 book An Act of State, the jury heard evidence that King was killed by mob figures cooperating with authorities, and that Ray had been selected unwittingly as a low-echelon patsy, or fall guy. Pepper persuaded Jowers and others to confess details of their involvement. The family brought the civil action as the best available forum to reveal the true killers and the extent of the cover-up.  

King v. Jowers, Case No. 97242-4. Shelby Country, TN. Trial held from Nov. 15-Dec. 8, 1999.

Ray v. Foreman was a civil action filed by Ray following his guilty plea. Named defendants included Foreman, Hanes, and Huie. Ray charged them with violation of his constitutional rights and sought to enjoin Huie's book, He Slew the Dreamer.

Ray v. Rose was Ray's habeas corpus action.

Major King Research Archives

Martin Lurther King at DC March 1963The King Center, Atlanta, GA. President: Martin Luther King, III. Established in 1968 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”) has been a global destination, resource center and community institution for over a quarter century. Nearly a million people each year make pilgrimage to the National Historic Site to learn, be inspired and pay their respects to Dr. King’s legacy.

Both a traditional memorial and programmatic nonprofit, the King Center was envisioned by its founder to be “no dead monument, but a living memorial filled with all the vitality that was his, a center of human endeavor, committed to the causes for which he lived and died.” That vision was carried out through educational and community programs until Mrs. King’s retirement in the mid-1990’s, and today it’s being revitalized.

As we move into the second decade of the 21st century, the King Center is embarking on a major transformation into a more energetically-engaged educational and social change institution. Supported by our Board of Directors and an infusion of new thinking, the King Center is dedicated to ensuring that the King legacy not only remains relevant and viable, but is effectively leveraged for positive social impact.

In short, the King Center is repositioning to meet the challenges and opportunities of today. Squarely-focused on serving as both a local and global resource, the King Center is dedicated to educating the world on the life, legacy and teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., inspiring new generations to carry forward his unfinished work, strengthen causes and empower change-makers who are continuing his efforts today.

Plans include a state-of-the-art renovation to the King Center’s Atlanta campus, the preservation and digitization of our one-of-a-kind archives, the launch of an innovative digital strategy and conference series to bring the King legacy to a modern audience and the development of new programs and partnerships that further Dr. King’s work in sustainable, measurable ways worldwide. Through such efforts, the King Center can rise to its true potential as a beacon of hope and progress, to a world that still desperately needs Dr. King’s voice and message.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA. Director: Dr. Clayborne Carson. Building upon the achievements of Stanford Dr. Clayborne Carson Stanford UniversityUniversity’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute supports a broad range of activities illuminating the Nobel Peace laureate’s life and the movements he inspired. The Institute’s publications, public programs, workshops, and website inform a diverse global audience about King’s dream of global peace with social justice.

Selected in 1985 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King to edit and publish the papers of her late husband, Stanford University historian Dr. Clayborne Carson (shown in a Stanford photo) has devoted most his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. Under Carson's direction, the King Papers Project has produced seven volumes of a definitive, comprehensive edition of King's speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings.

Dr. Carson has also edited numerous other books based on King's papers. In 2005, the King Papers Project became part of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, with Dr. Carson serving as its founding director.

As one of the institute's projects, it has been compiling an online King Encyclopedia, with hot links to relevant documentation. Below is a listing of entries so far from the years 1967 and 1967.


2 April 1967 - Letter from Jay H. Cerf to King and King’s response to Cerf
4 April 1967 - Beyond Vietnam**
4 April 1967 - Question and Answer Period Following Beyond Vietnam Speech
7 April 1967 - New York Times: "Dr. King's Error"
9 April 1967 - “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life"**
11 June 1967 - “A Knock at Midnight"**
13 June 1967 - Telegram from King to Thurgood Marshall
16 August 1967 - “Where Do We Go From Here?,” Delivered at the 11th Annual SCLC Convention
27 August 1967 - “Why Jesus Called A Man A Fool"**


4 February 1968 - “The Drum Major Instinct"**
3 March 1968 - “Unfulfilled Dreams"**
18 March 1968 - Address at Mass meeting at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple
31 March 1968 - “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution"**
3 April 1968 - I’ve Been to the Mountaintop
8 April 1968 - Guidelines for the March
1 May 1968 - Poor People’s Campaign Flyer

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston, MA. The Martin Luther King, Jr. collection, donated in 1964, consists of manuscripts, notebooks, correspondence, printed material, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. receives honorary degree at Boston University, 1959 financial and legal papers, a small number of photographs and other items dating from 1947 to 1963. Manuscripts include class notes, examinations and papers written by Dr. King while a student at Morehouse College (1944-1948), Crozer Theological Seminary (1948-1951), and Boston University (1951-1953).

Dr. King is shown at right receiving an honorary degree at Boston University in 1959.

Among the notable documents are: a paper entitled Ritual (1947), composed at Morehouse; An Autobiography of Religious Development (1950), an assignment for the “Religious Development of Personality” class at Crozer taught by one of King’s mentors, George W. Davis; and notes and drafts of his doctoral dissertation, A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman (1955). Additional manuscripts in the collection include drafts of speeches, sermons and three books: Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (Harper, 1958), about the 1955-1956 bus boycott; Strength to Love (Harper & Row, 1963), a collection of several of his best-known sermons including “A Knock at Midnight,” “Shattered Dreams,” “The Death of Evil Upon the Seashore,” and “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life;” and Why We Can’t Wait (Harper & Row, 1964), which includes the famed “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

Dr. King’s office files, which date from 1955 to 1963, make up the bulk of the collection and consist primarily of letters, but also include itineraries, financial and legal documents, printed items, news clippings, and similar documents. There is material related to both the Dexter Avenue Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Additionally, there are extensive files related to the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Other organizations which prominently figure include the American Friends Service Committee, which helped to finance Dr. King’s 1959 trip to India; the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA).

Notable correspondence from figures in the Civil Rights movement includes letters from Bayard Rustin, Malcolm X, Adam Clayton Powell, Ella J. Baker, Medgar Evers, Roy Wilkins, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, William Sloane Coffin, Allan Knight Chalmers, Sidney Poitier, Jackie Robinson, A. Philip Randolph, Harry Belafonte, and Ralph Abernathy. Distinguished U.S. Government correspondents include Alabama Gov. John Patterson, Robert F. Kennedy, Sargent Shriver, Paul Douglas, Prescott Bush, Ralph Bunche, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hubert Humphrey, Richard M. Nixon, Dean Rusk, Walter Reuther, Adlai Stevenson, Earl Warren, Harry S. Truman, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Other eminent correspondents include James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Jawaharlal Nehru, Linus Pauling, Nat King Cole, Cass Canfield, Ralph Ginzburg, Julian Huxley, Paul Tillich, and Stanley Levison.

Major Research Archives On Related Topics

American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), Colorado Springs, CO. 2016 President: John E. Gerns, MFS. AAFS Board of Directors: "Forensic Science is the application of scientific principles and technological practices to the purposes of justice in the study and resolution of criminal, civil, and regulation issues."

Since 1948, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) has served a distinguished and diverse membership. Its over 7,000 members are divided into eleven sections spanning the forensic enterprise. Included among the Academy’s members are physicians, attorneys, dentists, toxicologists, anthropologists, document examiners, digital evidence experts, psychiatrists, physicists, engineers, criminalists, educators, and others. Representing all 50 United States, Canada, and 70 other countries worldwide, they actively practice forensic science and, in many cases, teach and conduct research in the field as well. Each section provides opportunities for professional development, personal contacts, awards, and recognition. Many sections publish periodic newsletters and mailings which keep their members abreast of activities and developments in their field.

Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Archives, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections. Dartmouth, MA. Founding Curator: The late Prof. Philip H. Melanson, Philip Melanson MLK New Revelations coverPolitical Assassinations Research Papers, 1963-2000MC 127/RFKAA Extent: 5 linear feet (12 boxes) Biographical: Philip H. Melanson (1944-2006) was professor of Political Science at UMass Dartmouth from September 1981 to 2006 and Chairperson of the Political Science Department from 1977-1985. His areas of specialization were American politics, political assassination and violence, governmental secrecy, freedom of information and public policy processes. He served as the coordinator of the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Archive, which is the world’s largest collection of the subject.

Professor Melanson wrote a number of books and was an intentionally recognized expert on political violence and government secrecy. His published works relate to political assassination and violence, governmental secrecy and law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He appeared on NPR, BBC, CBS, and CNN news programs. He made a total of 95 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which resulted in the release of over 200,000 pages of federal government documents on topics relevant to his research. He died in 2006. Scope and Contents Note: The collection includes photocopies, photos, audio recordings, and slides pertaining to his research into the assassination of Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968 (Series I) and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on June 5, 1968 (Series II).

Assassination Archives Research Center (AARC), Silver Spring, MD and Washington, DC. President: James Lesar (shown in photo). The AARC's holdings comprise the most extensive collection of records on the JFK assassination in James Lesarprivate hands. It has approximately 1,500 books on assassinations, organized crime, covert activities, and a wide variety of other subjects relevant to the study of assassinations and related topics. Its “main files” consist of newspaper and magazine articles, unpublished manuscripts, trial transcripts, photographs, tapes, notes, letters and other materials which fill some 36 four-drawer file cabinets. 

Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA). Washington, DC. Chairman: Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, M.D. (shown in file photo). CAPA is a non-partisan citizen group advocating release of sealed records pertaining to major suspected political Dr. Cyril Wechtassassinations, including of the Kennedy ("JFK" and "RFK") and King ("MLK") deaths. The new group, announced in the spring of 2016, advocates disclosures regarding suspected political assassinations. Its initial focus is on the JFK, MLK, RFK deaths because of widespread evidence supporting widespread public doubts about the official stories, and because the deaths retain continuing importance regarding public affairs. CAPA plans to pursue the release of the remaining suppressed records and undertake public education efforts to ensure that the forces that orchestrated such assassinations will no longer be able to influence government policies. 

Harold Weisberg Archive, Hood College, Frederick, MD. Co-Directors: Gerald D. McKnight and Clayton Ogilvie. Hood College maintains a large, accessible private collection of government documents and public records relating to President Kennedy's assassination. Much of it comes from the labors of Harold Weisberg (1913-2002). He used the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (FOIAPA) to obtain about 250,000 pages of documents, largely from the Warren Commission, FBI, Secret Service, Justice Department, and CIA. Also, the collection includes about 85,000 pages of FBI documents regarding the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Government records are available also about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

History Matters: The JFK AssassinationIpswich, MA. Director: Rex Bradford. History Matters is a venture operated by Rex Bradford, a computer game designer and avid historian of the Cold War. History Matters is devoted to the idea that history does matter. Much of the history that we learn is biased and distorted. This is particularly true of the "official" history of our darker national episodes. History Matters has no agenda, however, other than service to the truth. By delivering document collections in an accessible manner, we hope to inform and enlighten.

Mary Ferrell Foundation (MFF), Ipswich, MA. President: Rex Bradford. The Mary Ferrell Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) group engaged in an ongoing effort to bring Mary Ferell Foundationaccessible and interactive history to a new generation of critical thinkers. With a wide topic base including the assassinations of the 1960s, the Watergate scandal, and post-Watergate intelligence abuse investigations, the MFF’s vast digital archive at contains over 1.3 million pages of documents, government reports, books, essays, and hours of multimedia. This site is open to all for browsing. Memberships are available that unlock the site's powerful search engine and allow access to PDF copies of documents. Institutional memberships are also available. Find out more about membership in the MFF here

National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), Washington, DC. National Archivist David S. Ferriero, shown at below right, is David Ferrierothe head of the agency, appointed by the President of the United States. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept forever.  If you plan to visit the National Archives at College Park to examine JFK Assassination Collection records, NARA strongly urges you to visit the Information for Researchers page prior to your arrival. Here you can find information regarding pull times, contacts and hours. The bulk of MLK materials are at: The National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001.

National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, TN. Executive Committee Chairman: Joseph R. Hyde III. The museum is a complex of museums and historic buildings that trace the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the 17th century to the present. The museum is built around the former Lorraine Motel, where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Two other buildings and their adjacent property, also connected with the King assassination, have been acquired as part of the museum complex.

The museum offers 260 artifacts, more than 40 new films, oral histories, interactive media and external listening posts that guide visitors through five centuries of history — from the beginning of the resistance during slavery, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow, and the seminal events of the late 20th century that inspired people around the world to stand up for equality.

The museum re-opened in 2014 after renovations that increased the number of multi-media and interactive exhibits, including numerous short movies to enhance features. The museum is owned and operated by the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation, based in Memphis. The Lorraine Motel is owned by the Tennessee State Museum and leased long term to the Foundation to operate as part of the museum complex. The museum chronicles key episodes of the American Civil Rights Movement, examines today’s global civil and human rights issues, provokes thoughtful debate and serves as a catalyst for positive change.

National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Founding Director: Lonnie G. Bunch III. The National Museum of African American History and Culture was created in 2003 by an Act of Congress, establishing it as part of the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian Board of Regents, the governing body of the Institution, voted in January 2006 to build the museum on a five-acre site on Constitution Avenue between 14th and 15th streets N.W. This site is between the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The new museum, the Smithsonian’s 19th, will be the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history and culture. It is scheduled to open in Sept. 24, 2016.

The National Museum will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all. Opening September 24, 2016, the museum is under construction on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on a five-acre tract adjacent to the Washington Monument. Until then, we invite you to visit our gallery located on the second floor of the National Museum of American History. Museum Leadership: Council Co-Chairs Richard D. Parsons, Senior Advisor, Providence Equity, and Linda Johnson Rice,    Chairman, Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.; Publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines.

Lonnie G. Bunch IIIAs the museum’s director, Lonnie G. Bunch (shown in an official photo) as identified the museum’s mission and is developing exhibitions and public programs and coordinating the museum’s fundraising and budget development.

Under Bunch’s leadership, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened seven exhibitions in its gallery located in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The most recent exhibit, “Through the African American Lens: Selections from the Permanent Collection,” opened May 8. In addition, the museum’s traveling exhibition, “Changing America,” will be exhibited at 50 venues across the country through 2018. Bunch also established the program “Save Our African American Treasures” featuring daylong workshops where participants work with conservation specialists and historians to learn to identify and preserve items of historical value.

Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Secretary: Dr. David J. Skorton (shown in an official photo), a former president of Cornell University, became the secretary of the world's largest museum and research complex in July 2015. David Skorton Cornell PhotoThe Smithsonian Institution is a museum and research complex of 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park, as well as research facilities. It was established with funds from James Smithson (1765–1829), a British scientist who left his estate to the United States to found “at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” The Institution cover diverse topics for its nearly 40 million annual visitors and other audiences, of course, but on occasion treat important elements of Kennedy assassination.

National Voting Rights Museum & Institute, Selma, AL. Founder: Faya Ora Rose Touré. Located in the Historic District of Selma, Alabama at the foot of the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge, the scene of “Bloody Sunday,” the National Voting Rights Museum & Institute is the cornerstone of the contemporary struggle. The mission is to be a Museum and Institute that chronicles and preserves the historic journey for the right to vote that began when the “Founding Fathers” first planted the seeds of democracy in 1776. for voting rights and human dignity.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Atlanta, GA. President/CEO Charles Steele, Jr. SCLC currently has 56 chapters throughout the nation with several more being considered. The very beginnings of the SCLC can be traced back to the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Montgomery Bus Boycott began on December 5, 1955 after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on the bus. The boycott lasted for 381 days and ended on December 21, 1956, with the desegregation of the Montgomery bus system. The boycott was carried out by the newly established Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). Martin Luther King, Jr. served as President and Ralph David Abernathy served as Program Director. It was one of history’s most dramatic and massive nonviolent protests, stunning the nation and the world.

The boycott was also a signal to Black America to begin a new phase of the long struggle, a phase that came to be known as the modern civil rights movement. As bus boycotts spread across the South, leaders of the MIA and other protest groups met in Atlanta on January 10 – 11, 1957, to form a regional organization and coordinate protest activities across the South.

SCLC differed from organizations such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in that it operated as an umbrella organization of affiliates. Rather than seek individual members, it coordinated with the activities of local organizations like the Montgomery Improvement Association and the Nashville Christian Leadership Council. ‘‘The life-blood of SCLC movements,’’ as described in one of its pamphlets, ‘‘is in the masses of people who are involved — members of SCLC and its local affiliates and chapters’’ (‘‘This is SCLC,’’ 1971). To that end, SCLC staff such as Andrew Young and Dorothy Cotton trained local communities in the philosophy of Christian nonviolence by conducting leadership training programs and opening citizenship schools. Through its affiliation with churches and its advocacy of nonviolence, SCLC sought to frame the struggle for civil rights in moral terms.

Spartacus Educational, United Kingdom. Founder and Editor: John Simkin (shown in photo). This is an educational website. Its index of key figures and topics in the JFK assassination is here. The material is hot-linked to extensive bios and John Simkinphotos. There are approximately hundreds of names listed in the database of important figures, witnesses and possible conspirators. The web-based Spartacus archive contains many topics beyond United States history and the MLK murder.



The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Riverside Memorial Church in New York City, April 4, 1967 (File photo)

Ratical, 50 Years Ago: Riverside Church and MLK’s Final Year of Experiments With Truth, David T. Ratcliffe, April 4, 2017. Fifty years ago today, Martin Luther King gave a paramount speech addressing the moral bankruptcy of the Vietnam war and the untenable costs to society of rampant U.S. militarism. Entering the final year of his life, the “Beyond Vietnam” address at New York City’s Riverside Church, moved Dr. King into a profoundly deeper exploration of experiments with truth akin to those that defined Mohandas Gandhi’s life.

Knowing beforehand he was progressing further across a one-way boundary, Martin King proceeded to grow far, far beyond the romanticized and frozen-in-1963 persona of a civil rights icon. In “King and the Cross,”  Jim Douglass points out how, “With that speech that drew a prophetic line between real peace and our national security state, King went beyond his own security net as a civil rights leader [and] became a national security threat.”

New York Times, When Martin Luther King Came Out Against Vietnam, David J. Garrow, April 4, 2017. David J. Garrow is the author of “Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference” and the forthcoming “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama.” Fifty years ago today — and one year to the day before his assassination — the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the most politically charged speech of his life at Riverside Church in Upper Manhattan. It was a blistering attack on the government’s conduct of the Vietnam War that, among other things, compared American tactics to those of the Nazis during World War II.

The speech drew widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum, including from this newspaper. Other civil rights leaders, who supported the war and sought to retain President Lyndon B. Johnson as a political ally, distanced themselves from Dr. King.  Dr. King’s Riverside Church address exemplified how, throughout his final 18 months of life, he repeatedly rejected the sunny optimism of his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and instead mourned how that dream had “turned into a nightmare.” But the speech also highlighted how for Dr. King, civil rights was never a discrete problem in American society, and that racism went hand in hand with the fellow evils of poverty and militarism that kept the country from living up to its ideals. Beyond signaling his growing radicalism, the Riverside speech reflected Dr. King’s increasing political courage — and shows why, half a century later, he remains a pivotal figure in American history.



May-September, 2016, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Alabama State University Connection, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL. New Exhibit Explores MLK’s Activities at ASU. Alabama State University’s Levi Watkins Learning Center (LWLC) is featuring a new exhibit. The three-panel exhibit explores King’s 1954 arrival in Montgomery, his role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and his ascendancy as a key spokesman for the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement.

“This exhibit addresses the various ways and reasons Rev. King visited the campus and interacted with the faculty and staff of ASU,” said Dr. Howard Robinson, ASU’s archivist. The exhibit chronicles King’s activities on ASU’s campus from 1954 to 1960. One segment looks at King’s decision to spend his first night in Montgomery on the campus of Alabama State University, at the “Faculty Circle” home of Dr. J. T. Books, ASU vice president.

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