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Ray, James Earllocked

(10 March 1928–23 April 1998)
  • Gerald Posner


Ray, James Earl (10 March 1928–23 April 1998), assassin of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., assassin of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in the blue-collar town of Alton, Illinois, the son of George Ray, a sometime railroad brakeman, mechanic, and farmer, and Lucille Ray, a steam presser at a dry cleaning business. His father's family had a long history of violence and run-ins with the law; his great-grandfather was hanged, his grandfather was an alcoholic bootlegger, and his own father was convicted on a charge of breaking and entering. His mother worked tirelessly to support Ray and his eight siblings. The family endured severe poverty, despite several moves in Illinois. Ray started school in 1935 and was teased by other children for his torn pants and filthy shirt. Shy and withdrawn, he hated school and flunked the first grade. Given to occasional outbursts of anger and fistfights, he had few friends....

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