On Beale Street, this lifelong Memphis, Tennessee resident told me about the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed. “I stayed in bed the entire next day, I didn’t want to get involved in that mess. People were rioting on the streets of Memphis,” he told me - - “I was only 16 when it happened.” He squinted his eyes and looked towards the direction of the motel where King was killed as if he were stepping back to that day on April 4, 1968… “People were f**ckin up Memphis and I didn't want to be in the middle of that. I just stayed in bed and didn’t go to school the day after King was killed. A teenager was even shot by Memphis Police.”
King was only 39 when he was killed on that Thursday evening. He was pronounced dead at the St. Joseph Hospital at 7:05 PM. The man who murdered the young civil rights leader was arrested in June of ’68 in London at the Heathrow Airport. Nearly a year later on March 10, 1969 he entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to spend his next 99 years in prison. Ray later died at the age of 70 in 1998.
To this day, the King family believes the murder was a conspiracy and James Earl Ray was a scapegoat. The information is well documented in a 1999 wrongful death suit against Loyd Jowers, the former owner of Jim’s Grill in Memphis, TN. In court, Jowers suggested that Memphis Police Officer Lt. Earl Clark filed the fatal shot that killed King.
Jowers died in year 2000.