- 1. Martin Luther King’s support for organized labor at this time was not new. A few examples will suffice: in a speech in 1961, King declared, ‘[o]ur needs are identical with labor’s needs ... [t]hat is why Negroes support labor’s demands and fight laws which curb labor’; in 1962, he supported the coalition of ‘the Negro and the forces of labor, because their fortunes are so closely intertwined’; in 1965, he stated that ‘[w]hen ... in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over our nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society’; in 1967, that ‘[t]he Negroes pressed into [service occupations] need union protection, and the union movement needs their membership’; also in 1967, he argued that ‘[i]t is natural for Negroes to turn to the Labor movement’; and finally to the Sanitation workers on strike in Memphis in 1968, he insisted: ‘[y]ou are demanding that this city will respect the dignity of labor . whenever you are engaged in work that serves humanity and is for the building of humanity, it has dignity and it has worth’ (Harrity 2004).
- 2. On December 8, 1999, a Memphis jury awarded Coretta Scott King and her family $100 in damages for the conspiracy to murder her late husband (Sheppard 2006, p. 7). According to the jury, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated by a conspiracy that included agencies of the United States government (ibid., p. 1). As Sheppard concludes, ‘[f]rom the beginning it has been clear that the FBI was involved to one degree or another’ (ibid., p. 7).
- 3. Sheppard, a contemporary of both King and Malcolm X, makes a similar claim about the changing politics of the latter:
At the time of their assassinations, both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X were embarking on a course in opposition to the capitalist system. It is clear from reading and listening to their final speeches that they had both evolved to similar conclusions as to capitalism’s role in the maintenance of racism. That is why they were neutralized.
Sheppard, who was present at Malcolm X’s assassination, argues that there is ‘irrefutable proof that the government had the motive to assassinate Malcolm X and the ability, through its ... spy operations, to orchestrate his assassination. It is now time to open up all the files of the CIA and the FBI, as well as the thousands of pages of files of the New York City Police Department, so that the truth about the assassination of Malcolm X can be exposed’ (Sheppard 2006).