On April 4th, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Two months later, an arrest was made in the case. The world was told James Earl Ray killed Dr. King. Dr. King’s wife and family did not believe it. His associates did not believe it. James Earl Ray’s brothers did not believe it.
His younger brother, Jerry Ray, has written a book about it. It’s titled “A Memoir Of Injustice (Trine Day, P.O. Box 577, Waterville, Oregon 97489 Tel: 1-800-556-2012 Website: www.TrineDay.com)
Jerry Ray has dedicated his life to clearing the name of his brother in the assassination of Martin Luther King. This interview is along side of him in those efforts.
Q – Mr. Ray, every year right around the time of the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, CNN trots out this documentary on Dr. King’s slaying, hosted by Soledad O’Brien. You’re in it.
A – You know a funny thing about it, the guy came up, the producer of the show, and I can’t think of his name right now, and he did most of the interviewing. Then Soledad flew in and her limousine waited for her. She did part of the interview and then she took off. It looked like she did it all, but he did most of it. His name sounded familiar and I got talking to him and back in ’78, when James was in front of the Assassination Committee testifying, they had a thing on NBC. This reporter got killed over in Ghana, Jonestown. I can’t think of his name. But anyway, him and this guy come up here to set up the interview for CNN. They did a thing when James was testifying and this guy argued that James was guilty and the reporter that got killed over in Ghana actually acted as a defense attorney and argued that he was innocent. Then I remembered him. When he told me, then it all came back. That same reporter that got killed in Ghana, he found out that I was in St. Louis. He called up and wanted to interview me. I told him I couldn’t on account of it wouldn’t be right for that TV station (NBC – for an appearance on Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show) to pay my way from Georgia, fly me to New York, put me up in a hotel, and pay all expenses and I give interviews to other TV stations. Then shortly after that, him and Mark Lane and Leo Ryan and that same reporter went to Ghana and he got killed. Anyway, this reporter came up here to set up this interview on CNN. It was about three years ago (2008) and they re-run it every year. He was the one that was arguing James was guilty and the reporter arguing James was innocent was the one that got killed.
Q – That show was so one-sided. They believe your brother killed Dr. King.
A – You know how that works, see Soledad is going along with what the station tells her to do. See, I don’t blame her for anything she says on there. They write everything down for her to say, for her to ask. The producer has complete control over the thing. I met the guy afterwards, about a month after the show should’ve run. We went out and had dinner. I thought the show was fair because they had Andrew Young on there saying James didn’t have anything to do with the murder of Dr. King and they showed both points. That’s one of the reasons I talked to ‘em, because CNN has always been the most fair of the stations to cover the thing. I remember after James died, they had on that guy from Atlanta. I can’t think of his name right now either. A professor or something. He was bad-mouthing James. He was really running him down. This guy’s a professor at, I think Emory University. Seems like he wrote a book or something. But he was on CNN. So, what CNN did is they called me. This is a TV show they had on then. They had me stay on the phone. This guy was running down the King family, the Ray family. I got on and give ‘em all kinds of hell, see. I had my TV sound turned down because if I didn’t, it messed up on the phone. It’s ‘live’. Everything is ‘live” on there. I was watchin’ and he was movin’ around and shakin’ But CNN has always been fair. Even I thought the TV show was fair ‘cause they put both sides on. They put me on and Andrew Young on and then they had the other side on. What I don’t like is these shows that only put on one side.
Q – Soledad O’Brien states in the show, as I recall, that James robbed a bank and got $30,000, much of it in $20 bills. She said “Keep that in mind as we continue.” The next thing you know, she has James paying for a car, a Mustang, with $20 bills. That’s giving people more of an impression of James’ guilt than Andrew Young coming on and saying James didn’t shoot Dr. King. You see what I’m talking about? You say in your book there was no bank robbery.
A – Like I told everybody, anytime anybody mentions about that on every show I ever turn on, I always say the same thing. The statement is, you can indict a hamburger, but you can’t prove it. But here, they didn’t have enough to indict James. If they had any evidence what-so-ever, and this is what I told that reporter, the producer that was down here, he talked to this policeman and he had him on the TV show. He said James robbed a bank and most was 20s and that. I said “Look, I told this producer, if they had anything at all showing that James robbed a bank, they would’ve at least indicted him, even though they couldn’t convict him. That would make it look like he done it.” They didn’t have enough evidence to indict him. And as far as me, they told me I robbed a bank too. Congress did. They said “We gonna prove you robbed a bank.” When I went for testifying, I said “Are you gonna prove I robbed a bank? That’s a joke.” “We’re not playing jokes. We’re gonna prove it.” I told ‘em I went over and turned myself in for robbery a bank and they told me I never was a suspect. You can accuse people of anything, but you have to prove it.
Q – According to your book, the authorities were always going after you and your brother John.
A – Yeah. They wanted the whole Ray family, especially me because I wouldn’t shut up. My Dad told me “they gonna shut you up” because I was out there talkin’. He said “you ought not talk so much.” That’s what my Dad was saying before he died in ’85.
Q – Did your father think James killed Dr. King?
A – No. Anybody who knows anything about the case; see, the Assassination Committee come up with James is a racist and he did it because he hated Blacks. Georgie McMillan had it in there that some guy in Jefferson City said every time Martin Luther King would come on a TV set, James would go into a trance and say “someday I’m gonna kill him when I get out.” So, he had it in his book. So, a reporter went down to talk to the Warden and the Warden said “That’s awful strange ‘cause we didn’t have TV sets in there then.” (laughs) James was sitting in front of imaginary TV set I guess. Then he went from that to two guys hanging around The Grapevine Tavern, and they told me and John they’d pay $50,000 to get King killed, and that James never did collect the money. They had all kinds of crazy stories out.
Q – Jerry, if your brother was guilty of anything, it would’ve been associating with the wrong people. He told me he would run packages across the border into Canada. I believe without asking what’s in the package or stopping the car at one point to see for himself what’s in the package. You and I would have probably asked or looked, if we were involved.
A – If you ever do that kind of work, you never ask because you’re never gonna work for them guys. He was trying’ to get up enough money to get out of the country. I know when he escaped, he came to Chicago where I was at and he worked awhile close to where I worked at, a few miles. We used to meet up all the time and have a couple of drinks and play pool. After that, we’d talk. He was figurin’ out a way then to get out of the country. He told me he was gonna work and save up enough money to go to Canada. He was doing twenty years down in Jefferson City. He wanted to get out and go to some other country when he met that guy who called himself Raoul. You didn’t ask no questions. You just do what they tell you ‘cause they’re paying you, see.
Q – Your brother was a perfect fall guy or patsy. He did what he was told to do, almost like a soldier.
A – That’s the way you do on there because if you start questions, they get somebody else to do the work. They want you to know the least of all because that’s how them kind of guys work. You don’t ask questions. If you do, you don’t work for them.
Q – Maybe they told James if he ever asked about the package or looked inside the package, they would kill members of his family. God knows what they said to him.
A – Yeah.
Q – But see, Soledad O’Brien, being so young, doesn’t understand that.
A – Like I say, I just seen Soledad for, I guess a couple of hours. We did an interview up here at the Best Western. The limousine picked her up at the Nashville Airport and brought her out here. The limousine waited and that until after the interview was over. She left and that same evening she had to fly to Chicago to interview Obama’s wife. So, that same day she interviewed me, she interviewed Obama’s wife. They just ask you what’s written out, what they tell ‘em to ask you. When she summed that up, she’s just doing what the producer told her to say.
Q – There was also a special on Dr. King’s assassination shown on the P.B.S. network recently. Did you see that?
A – Oh, yeah. That was one-sided all the way. It didn’t have Mark Lane. It didn’t have nobody on the other side. It was all one-sided.
Q – They had Dan Rather in that documentary. He calls your brother “cunning.”
A – Dan Rather, back in ’76, did three specials, one on Oswald, one on King, and then a half hour on Wallace and a half hour on Robert Kennedy. He had Oswald guilty and this and that and the rest of ‘em. Only one he came out on was the hour one he had on James Earl. They came out and interviewed me for show. At the end of the show, Dan Rather started talking and said “The State of Tennessee said they had overwhelming evidence that James Earl Ray was guilty and they wished he had a trial.” He said “I went down to Memphis. They didn’t have no evidence at all against James Earl Ray. They should have a trial.” He was all in James’ favor. Once he got the head news job at C.B.S., back then he was just a reporter, he did a complete flip-flop.
Q – I’ll tell you why that is: The government says James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King. If Dan Rather rejects that conclusion, his access to institutions like the F.B.I., the C.I.A. and The White House stops. If you don’t have access, you don’t get the exclusive stories. If you don’t get the exclusive stories, you don’t get the ratings. If you don’t get the ratings, the network can’t demand high advertising rates. Without the high advertising rates, the network can’t pay Dan Rather’s exorbitant salary. So, Dan Rather is looking out for himself.
A – I know Tamara Carter (co-author of Jerry Ray’s book) fixed me up. Some Black lady had a radio station in California. She called me up and had me on there for a long time. She was saying she never did think James Earl Ray was guilty herself. She commented about the book and how she liked it. We talked for an hour. She said “all these top TV stations should have you on. Your book is real interesting.” I told her “not one of ‘em will have me on. You’ll never see me on CNN. When you write a book that he’s guilty, they’ll have you on every one of ‘em, see.” I said “the government learned one thing from World War II; Hitler controlled the press, Stalin controlled the press and after World War II, the United States learned one thing, if you can control the press, you can control the people. “ So they control the press now. None of these stations will let you on because of the government. About two or three years ago on Bill O’Reilly, he had the ex-head of C.B.S. on there one night. He said the same thing you’re saying. The government controls the news media .You have to do what they tell you. If you don’t, you won’t get your license. Bill O’Reilly asked him why they do this, why they do that and he said “we have to do that. The government tells us to do that.”
Q – In this P.B.S. Special, they also reported James was interested in getting into the porn industry. Did he ever tell you that?
A – No. I never heard that. They come up with more damn bull shit on there. Come up with all this crazy stuff. They run that thing no telling how many times. I missed it the first time. I seen it here about two or three weeks ago. I’ve watched it and like I told you before, they didn’t have one person in there who said he wasn’t guilty. And they all have different stories. At least CNN had both sides on there. I didn’t agree with everything they did, but as long as they put both sides on and let the people make up their mind. I wrote that P.B.S. a letter and told ‘em I’ll never hear from you. Somebody sent me the name of the head of P.B.S., some woman there. I said “my book is the truth. It’s not one of those government propaganda books.” I said “Dan Rather and all them were making up them stories.” I said “you can probably get a big grant from putting out that government propaganda.”
Q – Jesse Ventura should do a show on the assassination of Dr. King.
A – He might have trouble with the TV stations ‘cause the government come down on them. Just before James died, Oliver Stone flew up to the prison and interviewed James, plus he sent people up to talk to me. He couldn’t wait to get started and make a movie on the Martin Luther King thing. So, he goes to the bank that finances his movies and they said they wouldn’t finance no money about Martin Luther King. He said “the government’s been here” and he said “if they did, they were gonna check all their books. If they put up the money to finance a Martin Luther King movie, the government is gonna check their books, bank books.” In other words, they were gonna indict them for some kind of bank irregularities. They backed off and wouldn’t put out the movie. Oliver Stone was telling this himself. That’s how they blocked him from making a movie on Marin Luther King. They were gonna audit the books of the bank. That’s how the government works. That’s how this “free” government works.
Q – Page 43 of your book; “Some writers have attempted to make Jimmy out a racist, hard drinker, drug user and sexual deviant.” Let’s take ‘em on one by one. A hard drinker?
A – No. He wasn’t a drinker or a drug user.
Q – A sexual deviate?
A – They claim he was trying to get into that porno stuff.
Q – Your brother John had his own business. You did quite well working for country clubs. Could James have been successful?
A – Oh, he could have been more successful than me and John. He was real smart. He had a keen brain. Even Percy Forman was talking about it. He could’ve gone to the top of anything he chose. He was that smart. He helped his lawyers. He studied those books all the time. He filed all his own appeals. He’s real shrewd. Even when he was a kid, he passed his grades before he skipped grades.
Q – Did he have any particular talent or skill?
A – Like I say, he was real sharp. When he came to Chicago after he escaped from prison, he went to work as a dishwasher in a restaurant. He worked a couple weeks on that. Then he went up to cook. The owner said “we could see he had more talent than that.” They made him a cook, see, a server. He could do anything.
Q – You’re working hard to clear your brother’s name. I believe in the innocence of your brother. Many other people do as well, I’m sure.
A – Dan Rather said not all that long ago that he hasn’t met one Black person that thought James Earl Ray was guilty of the assassination of Martin Luther King. I can believe that because when I go down to Memphis, a big part of the people I usually talk to, Black people down there; in fact, when I was down there not all that long ago, we was getting in this limousine and a Black guy was driving. Somebody told him who I was. He told me “Your brother didn’t kill Martin Luther King. I know he didn’t do that.” So we talked all the way back. Even before the trial, before Forman pleaded him guilty, no, after Forman pleaded him guilty, we went down for a re-trial, several months later. I was walking away from the attorneys Richard Ry and another attorney, Hill, back to the hotel and I heard somebody running behind me. I just turned around and it looked like a football player, a Black guy. A real big guy. He’s running up behind me and he got beside me and stuck out his hand and shook hands. He said “I heard you talking back there on the court house steps. I believe everything you say. I don’t believe your brother was guilty.” We talked about two blocks, talking and then he had to go another way and then I went to the hotel, see. I’m like Dan Rather. I haven’t run into one Black person… ‘cause they know how the government operates more than a lot of Whites.
Q – James was set up by Raoul, especially when you consider the murder weapon was left in a doorway!
A – See, just like that Judge Joe Brown told me, “Jerry, they know that wasn’t the gun that killed Martin Luther King. They know that wasn’t the right gun.” He told me that in 2000, and we met out in Dallas in November when they usually have that Kennedy thing there. They had a King and Kennedy thing there and I was invited up to Dallas. That was the first time I ever met Judge Joe Brown. I told him I filed a suit to get that gun. He said “You’re not gonna get that gun, Jerry. They’re not gonna let you have that gun. They know that wasn’t the gun that was used in the assassination of Dr. King. The state will keep that gun.” So, what they did is, they give it to the Civil Rights Museum on a loan. They have to do certain things or they’ll take it back. I went down to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, to a woman named Harmon. I forget her first name. I told her I’d like to get that gun tested. She said “We can’t test it because they’ll take it back. I would also like to know if it was the gun that was used in the assassination of Dr. King, but we got orders we can’t let it out to be tested. If we do, the state will take it away from us.” So, they got in on display in Memphis. When Judge Joe Brown was ordering that gun tested, producer Bill Campbell ran up to the Tennessee Court Of Appeals in which of all them up there are ex-prosecutors, and filed a motion to have Judge Brown removed from the case. They took Judge Brown off the case. He was probably the only judge in Tennessee who would’ve ordered the gun tested and they removed him from the case. That was in 1997 and James died a few months later, so they just dropped everything.