MLK: The Assassination Tapes

For U.S. history buffs and those
who seeking a glimpse of a seminal moment
in the civil-rights movement of the 1960s,
Channel’s MLK:
The Assassination
puts you in
the middle of
that turbulent
period in time

The narration-free documentary weaves
rare video, photographic and audio clips from
Memphis-based radio and television news
footage, gathered at the time by several
Memphis University faculty members. Collectively,
it tells the story of civil-rights leader
the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s fateful
trip to Memphis, Tenn., where he was shot to
death on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Hotel.

In the weeks leading up to his murder,
King arrived in Memphis to support the black
sanitation workers’ strike in the city. The
documentary continues the story through
the massive march in Memphis a year later,
commemorating the fatal, historic day.

Particularly fascinating are Memphis police
radio reports in the minutes and hours after
King’s death, including their pursuit of a suspect
who eventually turned out to be King’s
convicted killer, James Earl Ray.

Another powerful and poignant scene
features a recorded conversation between
President Lyndon B. Johnson and Atlanta
Mayor Ivan Allen, in which LBJ asks Allen for
suggestions to help quell uprisings happening
around the country after King’s death.

Unlike other documentaries that supplement
old footage with perspective comments
from analysts, historians or those who survived
through the times, MLK: The Assassination
offers only the images, voices and
photos of the time, allowing the viewer to
draw their own conclusions and perceptions
about the period, the movement and city
that during the spring of 1968 became the
hotspot of the civil-rights movement.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.