Martin Luther King was murdered on April 4th 1968 in Memphis, USA by a man called James Earl Ray.
Ray was known to harbour a strong hatred for black people, though in 60’s America, this was not a strange thing. The KKK was prevalent in many states, though there is no evidence of Ray joining the Klan.
King was a religious minister who had become a widely outspoken leader in the black peoples’ civil rights movement during the 50’s and 60’s. He received the Nobel peace prize in 1964, for his work in fighting for equality through non violent methods.
He was an obvious target for white supremacists such as Ray.
King was visiting Memphis to give a speech about a proposed demonstration for civil rights, when he was killed.
He had checked into his hotel, and gone onto the balcony to take some air, when Ray fired one shot at him from his rifle. The shot struck King in the face, and he fell to the floor.
A number of other civil rights members were in the hotel room and rushed out when they heard the shot. He was taken to a nearby hospital and operated on, but he died later that evening.
Ray fled the scene after firing only the one shot, driving to Canada, where he obtained a fake passport. He travelled on said passport for two months before being arrested at Heathrow Airport in London.
After being sent back to the USA to stand trial, Ray pled guilty to the murder, therefore avoiding the death penalty. He was sentenced to a full life term, and died in prison almost 30 years later, from natural causes.
Who knows whether Ray planned to kill King that night, perhaps he saw him on the balcony and took a fatal spur of the moment decision. Maybe others were involved in helping him, or maybe he worked alone.
But I ask, what gave him the right to even think about taking the life of another person that day? Whether pre-planned or a ‘lucky shot’, he played God with the life of another person, when he took that gun into his hands.
I am not a fan of guns. They get into the hands of people who do not fully understand or care about the consequences of using them, and innocent people lose their lives as a result.
It is a huge problem in America, but I read only yesterday that young people are also being shot on the streets of London. A young girl died in the arms of her friends, all she had been doing was standing with them, and a car drove by, and BANG. She had done no wrong.
There is a lack of respect for the lives of each other in today’s society. It scares me and sickens me.
Plenty of illnesses and accidents take lives every day, but to deliberately take the life of another person? I could never understand what must go through the brain of someone who does that.
There is an excuse in self defence, if someone threatens yourself or your family, then it could be understandable, such as the man who killed a burglar in his own home today. And I will not claim that I have never hated anyone to the extent of wishing ill on them, that would be a lie. But to take the precious gift of life from someone who has done no wrong, or fought only for good, as King did, is impossible to ever forgive.