During the final 24 hours of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life he was surrounded by his closest aides who were with him in Memphis, Tenn., as he went there to stand with striking sanitation workers. It was meant to be a temporary stop before he continued to Washington D.C. to launch his Poor People’s Campaign to address poverty in America, which he felt was connected to inequality, racial and otherwise.
In the documentary “The Witness,” whose clips were provided to EBONY.com by The National Civil Rights Museum, Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles explains King’s motivations, energy and movements as he addresses the strike, the famous “Mountaintop” speech given at Mason Temple, and King’s movements as the final hour approached at the Lorraine Motel.
Kyles, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Amb. Andrew Young are the only aides to King present at his assassination who are still living.
More of Kyles interview is available on “The Witness” documentary DVD, which is available for purchase at http://shop.civilrightsmuseum.org/the-witness-from-the-balcony-of-room-306.
Follow the social media hashtag #EBONYBHM for more of our Black History Month content including our monthlong “In My Lifetime” narratives. Click here for other entries in the series.