Monday, March 10, 2014



(JFK+50) Forty-five years ago today, March 10, 1969, James Earl Ray, alleged killer of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  plead guilty of the murder.

Ray, born on March 10, 1928 in Alton, Illinois, was facing a death sentence but the guilty plea would change that to a 99 year prison sentence.

Born in poverty, Ray joined the army and served in Germany.  After service, he committed burglary in California and was sent to jail in 1949.

Evidence which tied Ray to the murder of King included fingerprints on a 30-06 hunting rifle found at the scene.  This weapon is on display today at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

Ray made good his escape but was arrested in London in June 1968.

On March 13, 1969,  Ray attempted to change his plea to not guilty claiming he had been "set up".  

While serving his sentence at Tennessee's Brushy Mountain State Prison he escaped twice but was recaptured both times.  

Ray died on April 23, 1998 in Nashville, Tennessee at the age of 70.

James Earl Ray 
Mug Shot (1955)


Stevens Point, Wisconsin (JFK+50) 54 years ago today, March 10, 1960, on the campaign trail here in Stevens Point, Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts, Democratic nominee for President of the United States, spoke about the problems faced by the American farmer.

Senator Kennedy said:

"If we can get men in government who understand the farmers problems - who recognize his need for inexpensive credit -- who treat him as a 1st class citizen -- then our farm economy can grow & flourish."

JFK went on to win the Wisconsin Primary on April 5, 1960.  He won 56% of the vote while Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota won 44%.

It was the Senator's second primary victory. 

JFK would eventually win all the primaries he entered and claim the 1960 Democratic Presidential nomination.

 Stevens Point, Wisconsin


Auburn, New York (JFK+50) Known as "Moses" to the many slaves she helped to escape to freedom, Harriet Tubman died a century and one year ago today, March 10, 1913, here in Auburn of pneumonia.

Tubman was born into slavery in 1822 in Dorchester County, Maryland.

When she first reached freedom herself, Miss Tubman recalled:

"When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person.  

There was such a glory over everything, the sun came like gold through the trees....and I felt like I was in heaven."

As the most famous "conductor" on the "underground railroad", she took pride on having "never lost a passenger". 

During the Civil War, she was a Union spy and later worked in the suffrage movement.

Tubman had sustained a head injury as a youth which caused her to have visions which she saw as signs from God.  Her passionate faith saw her through thirteen expeditions back into slave territory to help others escape.

Surrounded by friends and family, Harriet Tubman passed away quietly. 
She was buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery.

Harriet Tubman