Nearly 45 years ago in August 1965, I had the privilege of exclusively interviewing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in a midtown hotel in New York City. The appointment had been arranged for me through a mutual friend, Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker, a colleague if the civil rights leader and someone I knew from my reporting days at the New York World Telegram & Sun. I am reminded of this moment, since last Sunday marked the 42nd anniversary of the day King was slain by an assassin's bullet at the age of 39.
While his ostensible purpose in visiting New York was to expand his successful nonviolent Southern Christian Leadership movement to northern cities like Chicago and New York, during the course of our one-on-one conversation, without any of his aides nearby, he told me he was starting to think that the war in Vietnam was pointless and, indeed, sapping not only the lives of thousands of Americans, but he did not want to go on the record -- yet.