Did John MacArthur Visit the Lorraine Motel in the Wake of the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.?

On several occasions, Rev. MacArthur has claimed he visited the crime scene where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead on April 4, 1968. This issue has taken on new urgency with the publication of an investigative report in NOQ Reports written by Rogers.

Over several decades, MacArthur has described hearing about the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. In essence, he has said he was in the Jackson, MS NAACP office of Charles Evers, brother of civil rights martyr Medgar Evers when a man entered the office and said King had been shot. At that point, several of the men including John Perkins and MacArthur traveled to Memphis to see the crime scene. MacArthur claims the scene wasn’t monitored and the men were able to inspect the King’s blood stains at the Lorraine Motel and examine the bathroom from where James Earl Ray fired the fatal shots.

In Rogers article, Charles Evers is quoted saying he was in his car when he received word of the shooting. In the first edition of a book where he gives an account of the event, he says he heard of the shooting on the radio. In subsequent accounts, he said he got a call on his car phone. In any case, he was not in his office in Jackson.

However, I have found evidence that supports MacArthur’s contention that he was with Perkins. In John Perkins’ 1993 book, Beyond Charity, Perkins wrote the following:

While this passage doesn’t place MacArthur and Perkins in Evers’ office (and a later account from Perkins doesn’t mention Evers), it does place them together. This information was not in Rogers’ article.

A more important issue to me is whether or not Perkins and MacArthur went to Memphis that night (or at any time) and examined the crime scene. MacArthur has repeatedly said he did in the wake of the shooting even saying the security was lax which allowed them to go to the place where King was killed.

This seems unlikely since a curfew had been imposed and reportedly security was tight at the Lorraine Motel according to available police records. The Rogers’ article did an admirable job of bringing this information together.

I have emailed and messaged John Perkins via social media to ask him about his recollections of this night. He has yet to answer. In 2018, he told an interviewer that he was informed via the radio and community members after preaching. There was no mention of MacArthur, Evers or the NAACP office. I have been unable to find any mention in any of his books of a trip to the Lorraine Motel that night.

According to John Perkins, John MacArthur was in MS with him when MLK, Jr. was killed. I also believe that Evers was in his car when he heard about the death of King. I can understand how memory can reconstruct certain elements of an event. However, the trip to Memphis is another matter.

I would really like to hear from John Perkins about what happened after he heard the news. The logistics of that night and distance between Jackson and Memphis make it seem improbable that MacArthur’s detailed accounts are accurate as described. I can’t judge the situation beyond that and am certainly not willing to say anything more with certainty without hearing from Perkins.

(Information above without links is derived from Rogers’ article. Consult that article for more on the police reports surrounding the aftermath of the King shooting.)

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. – I Have a Dream – March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I link to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered August 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

I showed this today in one of my classes and was moved as I always am when I listen to it.  Be inspired.

For a transcript of the speech, you can consult the National Archives at this link.  It is fascinating to examine the draft of the speech. In particular, the phrase “I have a dream today” isn’t in the draft. He improvised the phrase.  He had used it before but it wasn’t in the prepared remarks. In the moment, inspiration came to him and he took the speech to another level. See this interview with Clarence Jones for more on that story.

I Have a Dream Speech – Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I link to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered August 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Be inspired.

For a transcript of the speech, you can consult the National Archives at this link.  It is fascinating to examine the draft of the speech. In particular, the phrase “I have a dream today” isn’t in the draft. He improvised the phrase.  He had used it before but it wasn’t in the prepared remarks. In the moment, inspiration came to him and he took the speech to another level. See this interview with Clarence Jones for more on that story.

Martin Luther King, Jr. – Letter from Birmingham Jail

Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTS_4Dated April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King wrote a letter from jail in Birmingham during the non-violent campaign there. In the letter, he defended the strategy of non-violence used in the Birmingham campaign.
One of the striking elements of the letter is King’s disappointment with the white clergy in the South. If I could paraphrase King for today, I might ask the Trump evangelical advisory board, “Who is your God? Where are your voices of support when the president said fine people rallied with Nazis and white supremacists?”
Birmingham Jail MLK
Today, Donald Trump disbanded his group of CEO business advisors because many of them resigned over his remarks yesterday about Charlottesville. Not one of the evangelical advisory board resigned, nor did any of them condemn the remarks.  Is this how it is going to be? Is silence in the face of evil how evangelicals of this age will be remembered?
 

Response to IOTC – Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Speech: Our God is Marching On

On Monday,  I wrote about the Institute on the Constitution’s distortion of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work and mission. The IOTC accuses those who cast King, Jr. as a civil rights champion of revising history. I addressed the basic problems in their arguments yesterday. Each day this week, I will post a link to another speech or article from King, Jr. which makes his position clear. Yesterday, I posted segments of his speech titled “Give Us the Ballot.” Today, I am posting a speech delivered in Montgomery, AL on March 25, 1965 titled “Our God is Marching On.”
King marched for racial equality but he did not believe such an outcome would happen with laws requiring equal treatment alone. He also asked the federal government for assistance with housing, jobs and income. King Jr. did not limit his mission to “God-given rights.” Agree or disagree, the IOTC assertion that King, Jr. sought only God-given rights (by their definition) is betrayed by his frequent calls for government intervention in housing, and poverty.
King, Jr. said:

Let us therefore continue our triumphant march (Uh huh) to the realization of the American dream. (Yes, sir) Let us march on segregated housing (Yes, sir) until every ghetto or social and economic depression dissolves, and Negroes and whites live side by side in decent, safe, and sanitary housing. (Yes, sir) Let us march on segregated schools (Let us march, Tell it) until every vestige of segregated and inferior education becomes a thing of the past, and Negroes and whites study side-by-side in the socially-healing context of the classroom.

Let us march on poverty (Let us march) until no American parent has to skip a meal so that their children may eat. (Yes, sir) March on poverty (Let us march) until no starved man walks the streets of our cities and towns (Yes, sir) in search of jobs that do not exist. (Yes, sir) Let us march on poverty (Let us march) until wrinkled stomachs in Mississippi are filled, (That’s right) and the idle industries of Appalachia are realized and revitalized, and broken lives in sweltering ghettos are mended and remolded.

That King was a champion of civil rights is beyond dispute.

Now it is not an accident that one of the great marches of American history should terminate in Montgomery, Alabama. (Yes, sir) Just ten years ago, in this very city, a new philosophy was born of the Negro struggle. Montgomery was the first city in the South in which the entire Negro community united and squarely faced its age-old oppressors. (Yes, sir. Well) Out of this struggle, more than bus [de]segregation was won; a new idea, more powerful than guns or clubs was born. Negroes took it and carried it across the South in epic battles (Yes, sir. Speak) that electrified the nation (Well) and the world.
Yet, strangely, the climactic conflicts always were fought and won on Alabama soil. After Montgomery’s, heroic confrontations loomed up in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, and elsewhere. But not until the colossus of segregation was challenged in Birmingham did the conscience of America begin to bleed. White America was profoundly aroused by Birmingham because it witnessed the whole community of Negroes facing terror and brutality with majestic scorn and heroic courage. And from the wells of this democratic spirit, the nation finally forced Congress (Well) to write legislation (Yes, sir) in the hope that it would eradicate the stain of Birmingham. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Negroes some part of their rightful dignity, (Speak, sir) but without the vote it was dignity without strength.

Others knew him as a “civil rights agitator:”

My people, my people, listen. (Yes, sir) The battle is in our hands. (Yes, sir) The battle is in our hands in Mississippi and Alabama and all over the United States. (Yes, sir) I know there is a cry today in Alabama, (Uh huh) we see it in numerous editorials: “When will Martin Luther King, SCLC, SNCC, and all of these civil rights agitators and all of the white clergymen and labor leaders and students and others get out of our community and let Alabama return to normalcy?”

Read the entire speech here.

IOTC: Power Struggle in the League of the South? Or Cynical Attempt to Exploit Martin Luther King, Jr.?

The League of the South as a group is not celebrating Martin Luther King Day. On the League of the South Facebook page, League president Michael Hill is celebrating Confederate heroes today:

In Memoriam . . .
As we Southern Nationalist mark the birthdays of two of our great military heroes–Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson–let us not be content to merely remember. Rather, let us emulate them and continue the honorable cause that motivated these two noble Southern men–the survival, well being, and independence of the Southern people.
Note: If you wish to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. please go elsewhere. He is not one of us. And besides, who can honor a communist, womanizer, and plagiarist?–Michael Hill

In a mind-bending inconsistency, Hill tells readers who honor King, Jr. “to go elsewhere.” Yet, on the board of his organization, the League of the South, is one who has at least pretended to honor King — Michael Peroutka. In the video below, Peroutka speaks in glowing terms of King’s call for the equality.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZpHPwpm8l8[/youtube]
In the video, Peroutka errs dramatically by saying King did not call for civil rights but, nonetheless, he gives tribute to King, Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech. According to League president Hill, Peroutka should go elsewhere.  Is this inconsistency an indication of a power struggle in the League? Or is Peroutka’s video, and Hill’s silence about it, just a cynical effort to appeal to multiple audiences?
I think the answer to the second question is yes. My opinion is that the Institute on the Constitution (which is simply Peroutka’s law firm) is masquerading as a pro-American, and pro-Constitution organization. Recently, Peroutka told Steve Deace that civil rights laws are not laws and should not have been passed. On the IOTC website is an article justifying racial discrimination, and this one calling Confederate troops, “the American forces” who fought for freedom and “an American way of life.” Peroutka supports the League’s secessionist aims, and pledged the resources of the IOTC and his family to the League’s efforts.
I don’t know what Peroutka’s motives are for invoking King, but there is nothing consistent or particularly noble about it. If Peroutka really wants to give tribute to King and his work, then he should publicly denounce the League and as Michael Hill advised – “go elsewhere.”

Michael Peroutka: Civil Rights Laws Should Never Have Been Passed

Speaking on the Steve Deace Show Tuesday, Institute on the Constitution Director and League of the South Board member Michael Peroutka criticized the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which adds sexual orientation to existing civil rights protections. However, his criticism did not end there. He added at 30:22 into the first hour:

The civil government has no authority to tell any private employer what kind of employees to hire and fire, or what constitutes discrimination. And obviously, I do mean and I would include the so-called civil rights laws are not law, they never should’ve been passed, they’re not law now, they weren’t law then, they aren’t law now because there is no such thing as a civil right.

Despite Peroutka’s past efforts to wrap himself with the legacy of Martin Luther King, here Peroutka’s views of King’s work and discrimination more broadly come through.  Peroutka has gone so far as to claim that King did not seek civil rights. However, King clearly rejected Barry Goldwater’s view of the Civil Rights Act which is a position quite similar to the one Peroutka espoused on the Deace program. Peroutka’s views expressed on this radio show are consistent with an article on his website which justifies discrimination based on race, religion and/or nationality.
One might dismiss Peroutka as without much influence, however, to me, this would be shortsighted. Peroutka’s organization Institute on the Constitution continues to make inroads in the tea party and religious right. Furthermore, Steve Deace, while far to the right in relation to the rest of the nation, seems to be mainstream in Iowa. It is alarming and disappointing to hear a voice of the right wing of the GOP in IA lament the passage of civil rights laws which protect the civil rights of all Americans.
HT: Right Wing Watch.

Martin Luther King's Dream and the Declaration of Independence

My colleague Michael Coulter penned an op-ed in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech. It has been picked up by several newspapers; here is an excerpt with link to the Maysville (KY) Ledger Independent:

Aug. 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech at that great rally is rightly honored as one of the greatest speeches in American history.
All Americans recognize the soaring rhetoric of the final portion of the speech, where King speaks of a dream of an America without legal discrimination or racial prejudice. But the first part of that speech, wherein King speaks of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, is not as well-known but deserves to be. That portion demonstrates King’s commitment to the conception of justice held at the American founding.
In the third paragraph of King’s text, he says that “when the architects of our Great Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” With this reference to the declaration, there is a clear echo of that other great American speech from 100 years before King’s March on Washington speech: Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, which speaks of America as “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Read the rest here…