Death in Memphis: Martin Luther King

Format: 1x52’

Thomas Gieffer in collaboration with Konrad Ege

Director: Thomas Gieffer


In April 1968, Rev. Martin Luther King was at the height of his popularity. He had mobilised the black masses of America against apartheid and won Civil Rights concessions which made Blacks and Whites equal in the eyes of the Law. But J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI, had an obsessionnel hatred of King and was determined to silence him. With the assassination of President Kennedy, King lost a vital ally and by taking a stand against America’s intervention in Vietnam, he finally lost all sympathy at the White House, turning Kennedy’s successor Lyndon B. Johnson into an enemy. On the afternoon of April 4th 1968, at his Memphis hotel, the crossed sights of a sharpshooter were centred on his head. He was assassinated with a perfect shot.

The search immediately centred on James Earl Ray, an escaped prisoner convicted for armed robbery in a supermarket. His rifle and some personal effects had been found in a bag outside a building just opposite the hotel. But there are many who insist that Ray was just the fall-guy – and believe that the FBI set him up. Despite of disturbing evidence, the case has never been opened for re-investigation.

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