MLK 50, the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King‘s assassination in 2018, was always going to be a crossroads in race relations but alas we then took the wrong fork in 2020. So this week we’re remembering George Floyd a year on.
This The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel reflected on after the conviction of Derek Chavin last month.
The National Civil Rights Museum released a statement under the heading ‘Justice prevails. But we are still not OK.’
George Floyd’s image has become imprinted in our mind’s eye since his murder in Minneapolis.
Now he will stand proudly at the National Civil Rights Museum.
And the Two Mississippi Museums and everywhere where justice prevails.
That is fitting.
The case of James Earl Ray
The National Civil Rights Museum statement went on to say ‘In too many instances, with too many deaths, justice was not present.
‘We are not okay.
‘We need much healing from George Floyd’s death and the thousands of others who have died without due cause.’
There is continued cause to say justice was not present either for James Earl Ray.
For many, including the King family, Ray, who died in prison in 1998, was the fall guy for a higher-level hit that day in Tennessee in the Deep South.
‘It pains my heart that James Earl Ray had to spend his life in prison paying for things he didn’t do,’ Bernice King, the youngest of Martin and Coretta’s children at 55, said.
The King family in fact filed a civil case in 1999.
And a Memphis jury ruled that the local, state and federal governments were liable.
Let justice prevail
So why does any of this matter in the context of Chavin and George Floyd?
The King family recognises that as would their father.
Take a tour around the National Civil Rights Museum.
And talk to the guides and people who run the memorial.
And they will tell you too that there is a sniff around the conviction of James Earl Ray.
Coretta, who died in 2006, had said: ‘There is abundant evidence of a major high-level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband.
And that the jury deemed that the Mafia and various government organisations ‘were deeply involved in the assassination.
‘Mr Ray was set up to take the blame.’
Changing his plea
The fact that Ray withdrew his original admission which he gave in exchange for beating the death sentence.
Ray said he had been coerced into it which gives strength to the claim of his innocence.
There is also the failure to follow up witnesses’ revelations that another man had been moving in the bushes at the time of the murder.
Or that the gun found near the Lorraine Motel with Ray’s fingerprints on it was the gun which contained the bullets which hit Dr King.
Dr King’s son Martin Luther King III makes a pertinent point on that matter too. ‘You’re going to kill somebody and then drop the gun right there?’
So in remembering George Floyd a year on we need to celebrate Dr Martin Luther King too.. and exonerate James Earl Ray.