Gives Views on the Assasination of Rights Crusader
Reprinted from the April 19,1968 edition of Muhammad Speaks Newspaper
Gives Views on the Assasination of Rights Crusader, Dr. Martin Luther King
By Abdul Basit Naeem
When a civil rights march in Memphis, Teen.,organized and led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in support of the local striking sanitation workers developed a bit of unexpected disorder, it was invariably described by the news media as a”mini-riot,” “not a particularly severe out-break, as these things go now-adays” and “a Dr. King foray . . . turned fiasco. “YET IT is common knowledge that Memphis Mayor Henry Loeb requested – and Gov. Buford Ellington responded with – 4,000 National Guards :just minutes after the first (store ) window was broken on Beale Street . . . .”An additional 8,000 troops were placed on standby alert. The authorities moved with such alacrity to contain the minor disturbance, it was explained, in order to ” avoid the catastrophe that struck in Detroit and elsewhere last summer. . . ”
The chief leaders of the march,of course, were forced to abandon the demonstration. At lease one newspaper, however, described the Rev. Dr.King’s flight to safety thusly. “Dr. King got away unscathed. . . though many of his fellow-marchers were not so fortunate. . . ”
“Got away unscathed . . .” Just what did this ominous wording imply? While wondering and thinking out aloud, I happened to look at the newspaper photos of Dr.King taken at the moment the march was being dispersed.These, to me,clearly reflected hurt as well as fright. I could not help but surmise that, perhaps for some strange or unknown reason, the “mini- riot” in Memphis must have proven an extremely harrowing experience for the renowned Black civil rights leader.
A FEW days later-on Thursday,April 4 – came the shocking and distressing news, initially via radio and television “bulletins,” that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was no more. Back in Memphis for another try at leading a :positively peaceful” demonstration in behalf of the city’s sanitation men, he was cut down by a white assassin’s bullet fired from a 30.06 Remington pump rifle. (Up to the time of this writing,the assailant was still at large.)
Then,as disbelief and extreme anguish and grief compelled many Black men and women across the nation to take to the streets, there began what must be called and unparalleled spectacle of white praises, plaudits and euologies for Martin Luther King, a “great American leader . . . who so well loved this land.” Participation in the seemingly spontaneous outburst of white love for the fallen Black leader were virtually all “Great Society” spokesman – all the way from LBJ to those eminent opinion makers who only a week before were severely critical of “Dr. King’s Memphis antics” and were unequivocally demanding that he abandon his plans to lead a “poor people’s march” April 22 on the nation’s capital.
“WITH THE killing of Martin Luther King,”stated Columnist Harriet Van Horne in the New York Post (dated April 5) “the white man’s burden grows significantly heavier. It is heavy with guilt, sorrow and shame. And shrouding the burden is the cold certainty that a violent society, a society dominated by whites and scarred with hate triggered that rifle in Memphis Pronounced another New York Post editorial article : ” … The great. unresolved moral crisis haunting the nation is now drawn more sharply and clearly than ever . . . ”
” The assassin’s bullet that extinguished the life of Dr. Martin King has struck deep into the fabric or this country and has torn into the fiber of every American of every race,color and creed. . .”, said a New York Times editorial. “…Dr.King murder is a national disaster” THE DAILY N.Y. News was far more candid and to the point in its memorial note: “Even those who most disliked and feared Dr. King should, we feel, pay respectful tribute to his memory. “The News deplored the riot in Memphis that erupted from a protest parade which Dr. King led and hoped would be non-violent. We rather dreaded his planned poor people’s march’on Washington. We hope any such plans now will be abandoned. . .”