On the evening of April 4th, 1968, while watching a televised speech by civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his home was bombed. The attack killed King instantly and left his wife and children devastated.
Over time, more details about the event have come to light; some people believe that Dr. King was working for the enemy and his life was sacrificed so that others could continue fighting for what is right in this world.
However, others argue that he was not a traitor and that he was fatally targeted because of his unpopular beliefs in racial equality.
The Day of the Bombing
On April 4th, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was watching a televised speech by civil rights icon A. Philip Randolph was speaking about the need for African Americans to vote.
The speech was being conducted at a high school in Indianapolis, Indiana, and was being beamed out to other parts of the country. King was in Atlanta, Georgia, and had set up a studio at the Ebenezer Baptist Church so that he could live stream Randolph’s speech.
At around 8 p.m., the Atlanta Police Department received a call from an anonymous source informing them that a bomb had been placed at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King was staying. SGT. Clarence Davis, an officer who was also a member of the church, was dispatched to the scene and was the first to spot the bomb; he immediately called for backup and held the area so that the other officers could arrive safely.
Investigations soon uncovered that the bomb was placed in a garbage can, hidden underneath a nearby tree. It was filled with bags of explosives and had been placed underneath a large branch so that even if someone had opened the can, they would never have found it.
The bomb contained 6 pounds of dynamite and had been laced with nails and BBs to make it look as if it had been dropped by the wind. A police helicopter was called in to look over the area and find any possible clues; although the helicopter had a heat-seeking camera, it couldn’t be used in case someone was in the area using night vision goggles.
Over the next few days, investigators, with the help of a forensic pathologist, were able to collect enough evidence to identify who had planted the bomb. However, when the case went to court, the person who had been caught pleaded guilty to avoid being put in jail.
The evidence that linked him to the crime was based on a confession he had given to a friend, who had then recanted it. However, the friend had been threatened by the person who wanted to remain anonymous, so that he would plead guilty for the sake of his safety. Despite this, and the fact that the person who planted the bomb was never found, the King family has always believed that this was more than just a random attack.
King’s Speech and Response to the Bombing
A few hours after the bombing, Georgia governor Harold Martin spoke to the press and stated that they were pursuing every lead and had no reason to believe that King had anything to do with the attack.
The police were seeking a person who was seen in a white car leaving the scene when the attack took place and was also looking for a person who was seen on security cameras at the nearby bus station shortly before the bomb went off. On the day of the bombing, King delivered a speech at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, in which he spoke about the importance of both voting and non-violence.
After the speech, he went back to his home and was about to sit down for dinner when the bomb exploded. The whole thing was being live-streamed by King on Facebook, so his family members were watching at home and had a bird’s eye view of the attack. The tragedy left them stunned and terrified.
What Happened After the Speech?
King’s wife, Coretta, went to a local radio station and asked them to play the speech that Dr. King had just given; his children themselves were asked to go to the local TV station and request that they replay the speech as well.
After the bombing, the message of racial equality had been pushed out to even more people, and the goal was to prevent such an attack on their father in the future. King’s speech also had a much larger impact than people had expected.
This was because of its timing; the speech was being live-streamed on Facebook, and the site had just been released to everyone at that time. Since the bombing took place on a Friday, the speech was broadcast 24 hours a day, and in the following week, King received more than 68 million views on Facebook.
After the bombing, the FBI intensified its investigations and engaged in a nationwide hunt for the person or people who had planted the bomb. They had collected a fair amount of evidence, which was the reason why the person who planted the bomb had pleaded guilty.
However, the person had been threatened, and he had started to talk about the person who had ordered the attack, but before he could tell them who it was, he had been threatened and had pleaded guilty. In the months that followed, the King family had been receiving threats; they even had to hire private security.
While things had been relatively peaceful in the years that followed, they soon started receiving more threats and were told that they were going to be killed. King’s eldest son, Dexter, had even warned that they were being watched and followed.
Martin Luther King Jr. as a Hero or Traitor?
The bombing of Dr. King was one of the most shocking things that have happened in the history of civil rights activism, and the vast majority of people believe that it was a targeted killing.
However, there are still a few people who believe that Dr. King was secretly working for the enemy and that he was being targeted because of his unpopular beliefs on racial equality.
This is because, after the attack, several people claimed to have seen a white vehicle leaving the scene of the bombing, which was the same thing that the police were looking for. Some people believe that the FBI was involved in the attack since they had been trying to find the person or people who had committed the bombing since it had been planted on their watch.