Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy

( – While the search for the truth about the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues 35 years later, Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, chairman of the House Sub-Committee that investigated the King Assassination in 1978, spoke with The Final Call in response to the allegation that the King Family accused the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles of complicity in the assassination of Dr. King.

“There is no evidence that our committee uncovered, that implicated in any way the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson or Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles in the conspiracy to kill Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. That is one thing that has to be clear on the basis of somebody who speaks with that authority” he added.

Rev. Fauntroy’s authority emerges from the fact that he was the director of the Washington, D.C., Bureau of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., responsible for representing Dr. King to the President and heads of Cabinet Agencies, especially the Justice Department. He served for over 20 years as a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and introduced a bill to launch a Congressional investigation into the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a co-chair of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, charged with investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As a result of his efforts he became the chairman of the House sub-committee responsible for investigating the King assassination.


“I have not heard on the record, or off the record, from staff of my committee investigating the assassination, or the FBI and intelligence agencies of the country any statement linking Jesse Jackson or Samuel Billy Kyles to the assassination,” he stated firmly.

Specifically referring to the 1998 meeting with then Attorney General Janet Reno, Rev. Fauntroy states:

“That meeting was scheduled by me with Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Dr. William Pepper, Dexter King, and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young. The sole purpose of the meeting was to request a re-opening of the investigation into Dr. King’s assassination based upon two new items of evidence. The first piece of new evidence was the published statements of Mr. Lloyd Jowers, the owner of a grill where a rifle bearing the fingerprints of Mr. James Earl Ray had been found after the assassination. Mr. Jowers stated publicly that he was called prior to the assassination and offered $100,000 if he accepted a package shortly after 6 p.m. on the evening of April 4, 1968, and safeguard it until they came for it. Mr. Jowers testified that shortly after shots were fired, an acquaintance came to his business and gave him a package, which he hid in his basement. A week later, they came to exchange money for the package,” Mr. Fauntroy said.

Continuing, he added, “The second piece of new evidence was from an FBI Agent who had searched Mr. James Earl Ray’s vehicle, a white mustang. The FBI agent found a piece of paper with a Dallas telephone number that turned out to be the number of Jack Ruby ( killer of Lee Harvey Oswald, who was arrested for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy). The FBI agent hid this piece if evidence.

“There was no mention by the team of us present at the meeting (with Attorney General Janet Reno) concerning any reference to Rev. Jesse L. Jackson or Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles,” Rev. Fauntroy concluded.

He stated that the Sub-Committee he chaired did gather evidence about the extent of FBI efforts to undermine Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement.

“We found evidence that the FBI crafted articles, editorials, commentaries and cartoons, which had been circulated to friendly news persons and publications, which they (FBI) used. The FBI under J. Edgar Hoover targeted Dr. King under Cointelpro (Counter Intelligence Program) to remove Dr. King as an effective leader . These un-authentic documents suggested that Dr. King was a tool of Communist subversives, that he was a danger to the American way, and that he had betrayed Black People by involving himself in foreign affairs generally, and in opposition to the Vietnam war in particular,” he elaborated.

Rev. Fauntroy also offered guidance and counsel to our young people regarding the struggle of Black people for justice and the history of government opposition to our legitimate quest:

“Do not allow them to run that game on us again. We need the experience and the sagacity of our elders. I consider Jesse L. Jackson one of our most valuable and experienced elders in the struggle for peace and human dignity, not only in America but around the world. Do not allow them to drive a wedge between us and a generation of young people who must be our messengers to a future that we do not see,” he said.