Perhaps more importantly, the legislation, spearheaded by U.S. Senator John Kerry, will also bring to public view all records associated with King's assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, in the early evening of April 4, 1968.
Ben Greenberg of Boston, whose father worked for King in the early 1960s, lauded Kerry's bill and called the murder "a trauma that our country will not recover from unless we can clear the air about what really happened."
Nearly 42 years after the fact, much skepticism lingers as to whether James Earl Ray acted alone, or even whether it was he -- the eighth-grade drop out, drifter and petty thief -- who fired the fatal shots from a Remington Gamemaster slide-action rifle with a telescopic scope.As Ray's own father, George Ellis Ray, once put it: "He couldn't have planned it alone. He wasn't smart enough."
Opening up the FBI files could finally allow the court of public opinion to weigh in on the story that Ray's baby brother, John Larry Ray, swears is truth.
John Ray is almost 77 and, last we knew, lives in a tiny brick house near downtown Quincy, Illinois, a three-hour drive north of St. Louis. Two years ago, he was featured in an extensive Riverfront Times story that focused on his book Truth At Last: The Untold Story Behind James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.) that he coauthored with Lyndon Barsten, a lay historian from Minneapolis.
It is the younger Ray's contention the government and the mafia conspired to kill King and that James was an unwitting tool. The central premise of the Ray-Bartsten book, published in April 2008, was that James was subjected to numerous mind-control experiments while in the army in the late 1940s.
"James Earl was almost certainly a programmed obedient patsy. He was brainwashed," Barsten told the RFT.
(The Daily RFT was unable to reach Ray or Barsten earlier today)
The real gunman, said John Larry Ray, was a shadowy government agent named "Raul," or "Raoul," as the elder Ray spelled it.
Ray insists his infamous brother was no racist -- debunking a key motive many assigned to James after his capture.
"I never heard him say anything anti-Semitic or black," claimed Ray. "And I remember him rooting for [Willie] Mays to win the Triple Crown one year. And did you know that his favorite ballplayers were Jewish?"
Now, maybe if Kerry's bill prevails and a "Martin Luther King Jr. Records Collection" is created at the National Archives, we'll all know of the story of John Larry Ray.