Although this editor never had the opportunity to sit down with John F. Kennedy Jr. in July 1999 to discuss his offer to a small group of journalists he decided to hire to investigate his father’s assassination—Kennedy died in a suspicious plane crash shortly before the interview was scheduled—there was a surprise opportunity to discuss the matters of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination with his son.
In 2003, in a rather surreal moment, I was sitting in the congressional office of U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney talking to Martin Luther King III about the events leading up to his father’s assassination in Memphis on April 4, 1968. The purpose of the meeting was McKinney’s submission to the House of the MLK Records Act, which would have, if passed and enacted, opened up sealed government files on the assassination before their scheduled release in 2028.
There was a general consensus among those in the meeting that Dr. King was the victim of a wider conspiracy involving not only the U.S. government but members of the African-American community. While I was very familiar with the evidence that pointed to accused assassin James Earl Ray having received assistance from the Central Intelligence Agency, FBI, and members of Army intelligence. But what was astounding was the belief by many in the room that King’s assassination involved a member of his own entourage in Memphis, Reverend Bill Kyles. Kyles was an influential preacher among the African-American community in Memphis.
It was Kyles who urged a very reluctant King to travel to Memphis to help settle a sanitation workers’ strike in the city. King was busy with his national Poor People’s Campaign but he accepted Kyles’s request and traveled to Memphis. Kyles was in charge of King’s schedule while in Memphis and it was Kyles who prompted King, a known procrastinator, to step out on to the balcony in front of room 306 of the Lorraine Motel. It was while King was on the balcony talking to some well-wishers in the parking lot below that a sniper shot and killed King.
Kyles was also close to Jesse Jackson, also believed by some people close to King to have been part of the ruse to coax King to Memphis.
The families and closest friends of America’s slain leaders know, more than anyone else, the culprits behind America’s most infamous assassinations. The Kennedy family suffered at least three political assassinations: John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and John F. Kennedy, Jr. It is almost never reported that the King family suffered three assassinations, Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968; King’s youngest brother, Reverend A. D. King, 39, found dead in a swimming pool on July 21, 1969; and King’s mother, Alberta Williams King, shot and killed in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on June 30, 1974.
A.D. King’s sudden death on July 21 and the obvious government set-up of Senator Edward Kennedy in the Chappaquiddick car drowning incident involving Mary Jo Kopechne on the evening of July 20 were all overshadowed by another front page story, man’s first moon landing.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).