Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

"That's how MLK was killed".....



Dr. William F. Pepper, who became James Earl Ray’s attorney after meeting with him in prison in the late 1970s and later went on to represent the King family in a civil suit and write the definitive book on the case, The Plot to Kill King.  He is featured in this video.

WILLIAM PEPPER: Well, I was a journalist in Vietnam, and I did an article for Ramparts magazine—which was a progressive magazine at the time—and Martin King was a subscriber to the magazine. And when I came back from Vietnam, I did an article called “The Children of Vietnam,” which described the war crimes that America was committing in that country and the horrific loss of life, and particularly the effect on the children.

So Martin was on his way to the Caribbean on a holiday, and he was stopped at the Atlanta Airport from where he was flying. And he started going through his mail and there was Ramparts from January of ’67. And he didn’t read the article, but he opened it. He opened it, and he started to look at the photographs which I had taken. I kept all the photographs to myself when I was in the country and I also did not do anything with the recordings I made. So he looked at the photographs of the wounded and maimed and dead civilians, particularly children. And Bernard Lee, his bodyguard, had gone up to get something to eat and came back with some food, and he put it on the table and Martin just pushed it away and said, “I don’t think I’m ever going to enjoy a meal again until we end this wretched war.” And that was his introduction to my work.

Anyway, then when he came back from his trip in the Caribbean he asked to meet with me, and we met. And during the last year of his life we were quite close and we strategized a lot about how to change things in America. And that was the birth of the idea that he had had about a poor people’s march in Washington. So I came close to him during that last year.

I spoke on April 15th [1967] to a large rally in front of the UN and suggested to that crowd that there be a third party led by Martin Luther King and Benjamin Spock, and the crowd obviously rose in acceptance. And when Martin came up to speak he indicated that if he did such a thing it would really only be for the purpose of highlighting the horror of the war and ending it. And he delivered a speech at the Riverside Church on April 4, 1967, a year to the day before he was assassinated. And there was a powerful anti-war speech that he delivered. So he was very much in the fold then.

And I met him for the first time in—I guess it was late January or February when we met at Brown University where he delivered a speech, and I was to meet him there. And we were to go together to Harvard where we opened [the volunteer project] “Vietnam Summer.” And I showed him in that trip all of the files that I had readily available and he wept. He openly wept. He was a man of great compassion and feeling, and he knew that he had to do something about this war.

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