Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. looked down from the balcony of the Lorraine Motel and saw musician Ben Branch in the courtyard. He smiled broadly.
“I want you to play Precious Lord tonight,’’ King shouted down to Branch. “I want you to play it real pretty.’’
Moments later King was dead, shot by a sniper at 6:01 p.m., 45 years ago today.
In a special report today in print, online at naplesnews.com/MLK and on our mobile apps, Scripps Newspapers reporter Marc Perrusquia retraces King’s final 32 hours.
The 39-year-old King was being pursued by the FBI, stalked by an assassin, badgered by the media and stung by discord within in his inner circle as he returned to Memphis to support striking workers.
Perrusquia, of the Memphis Commercial Appeal, a Scripps newspaper, as is the Daily News, explores the drama and challenges of those final hours, from the time King arrived at the Memphis airport on April 3, 1968, until that moment on the hotel balcony, just before sunset, that changed American history.
Today’s report is part of a years-long legal effort to force the FBI to open records related to the assassination. Scripps sued the federal government and as part of a settlement received 785 pages of previously undisclosed documents.