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Jesse's Bloody Shirt
March 5th, 2002 | Edited by Sabertooth

Posted on 03/05/2002 11:41:22 AM PST by Sabertooth

Jesse's Bloody Shirt

"After they removed (Dr. King's) body, Ralph Abernathy got a jar and started scraping up the blood and said_ you know, and crying, it was Martin's precious blood. "This blood was shed for us." It was_ you know, it was weird, but people freaked out and did strange things. Jesse (Jackson) put his hands in the blood and wiped it on the front of his shirt, see, and it was_ it was_ I mean, what do you do in a moment like that?"

Martin Luther King Jr. is seen on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., on April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated there. James Earl Ray, the petty criminal who confessed to assassinating King, then recanted and spent decades seeking a trial, died Thursday. Pictured from left are, Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, King, and Ralph Abernathy.
(Associated Press)

OUTSIDE ROOM 307 -- Moments later on April 3, Rev. Ralph Abernathy led Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. James M. Lawson Jr. and others into room 307 at the Lorraine Motel to discuss the restraining order and plans for the second march. King, who was staying in room 306, had met with young people and other groups of strike supporters who wished to be part of future protests.
(Photograph by Barney Sellers, The Commercial Appeal)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and one of his aides, Jesse Jackson, at Mason Temple in Memphis on April 3, 1968. On that stormy night, Dr. King delivered his last public address, which became known as the "Mountaintop Speech," to an audience of more than 2,000.
Photograph by Ken Ross of the former Memphis Press-Scimitar, Courtesy Mississippi Valley Collection / University of Memphis Libraries)

MOUNTAINTOP SPEECH -- On the stormy night of April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his last public speech. Rev. Ralph Abernathy (right) applauded as King told an audience of more than 2,000 at Mason Temple in Memphis that the April 8 march must be held to refocus attention on the sanitation strike. He said Memphis had "refused to be honest with its public servants who happen to be garbage men." The speech has become known as the "Mountaintop" speech. "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain, and I've looked over, and I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land."
(Photograph by Ernest Withers)

New York Times, April 5th, 1968... (excerpt)

Dr. King had come back to Memphis Wednesday morning to organize support once again for 1,300 sanitation workers who have been striking since Lincoln's Birthday. Just a week ago yesterday he led a march in the strikers' cause that ended in violence. A 16-year-old Negro was killed, 62 persons were injured and 200 were arrested.

Yesterday Dr. King had been in his second-floor room- Number 306- throughout the day. Just about 6 P.M. he emerged, wearing a silkish-looking black suit and white shirt.

Solomon Jones Jr., his driver, had been waiting to take him by car to the home of the Rev. Samuel Kyles of Memphis for dinner. Mr. Jones said later he had observed, "It's cold outside, put your topcoat on," and Dr. King had replied, "O.K., I will."

Two Men in Courtyard

Dr. King, an open-faced, genial man, leaned over a green iron railing to chat with an associate, Jesse Jackson, standing just below him in a courtyard parking lot:

"Do you know Ben?" Mr. Jackson asked, introducing Ben Branch of Chicago, a musician who was to play at the night's rally.

"Yes, that's my man!" Dr. King glowed.

The two men recalled Dr. King's asking for the playing of the spiritual. "I really want you to play that tonight," Dr. King said, enthusiastically.

The Rev. Ralph W. Abernathy, perhaps Dr. King's closest friend, was just about to come out of the motel room when the sudden loud noise burst out.

Dr. King toppled to the concrete second-floor walkway. Blood gushed from the right jaw and neck area. His necktie had been ripped off by the blast.

"He had just bent over," Mr. Jackson recalled later. "If he had been standing up, he wouldn't have been hit in the face.

Policemen 'All Over'

"When I turned around," Mr. Jackson went on, bitterly, "I saw police coming from everywhere. They said, 'where did it come from?' And I said, 'behind you.' The police were coming from where the shot came."

Mr. Branch asserted that the shot had come from "the hill on the other side of the street."

"When I looked up, the police and the sheriff's deputies were running all around," Mr. Branch declared.

"We didn't need to call the police," Mr. Jackson said. "They were here all over the place."

Mr. Kyles said Dr. King had stood in the open "about three minutes."

Mr. Jones, the driver, said that a squad car with four policemen in it drove down the street only moments before the gunshot. The police had been circulating throughout the motel area on precautionary patrols.

After the shot, Mr. Jones said, he saw a man "with something white on his face" creep away from a thicket across the street.

Someone rushed up with a towel to stem the flow of Dr. King's blood. Mr. Kyles said he put a blanket over Dr. King, but "I knew he was gone." He ran down the stairs and tried to telephone from the motel office for an ambulance.

Mr. Abernathy hurried up with a second larger towel.

by Ralph David Abernathy, an autobiography; ISBN 0-06-016192-2
1989 Edition by Harper & Row, Publishers Inc.... (excerpt)

It seems that shortly after the ambulance had left, the press had converged on the place, camera crews and reporters, local staff and network, all eager to put someone on camera to tell the story. Jesse and Hosea had both agreed that until they knew what had happened, they would avoid the press and stay out of sight. At least that's what Hosea had thought was the understanding.

So he was more than a little surprised to look out the window and see Jesse, standing in front of several cameras, speaking into a microphone that a reporter was holding in his face. Curious, Hosea slipped outside and eased up behind Jesse, though on the other side of a chain-link fence.

"Yes," Jesse was saying, "I was the last person he spoke to as I was cradling him in my arms."

With a roar of anger, Hosea started cursing and was halfway up the chain fence before one of the others pulled him down and held him until his anger had cooled. But Jackson had told the same story, or very nearly the same, that morning on The Today Show.

We have never talked about this matter, though it was very much in the spotlight during the 1988 presidential campaign, when Mayor Koch and others brought it up. I never thought a great deal about it, though others in the group were vocal in their anger. If I had any theory about why Jesse had said what he did, I would have to say he was somehow in shock, reliving the whole scene in his mind, and acting out what he might have wished to do during those last seconds. Certainly, at such a moment, none of us was quite normal or even rational - and the state of confusion lasted for several days. (Indeed, that afternoon Jesse appeared before the Chicago City Council wearing a blood-stained shirt and saying that it was the same shirt he had been wearing the previous evening when he had held Martin.)

That afternoon in Memphis was different, of course, but something about the way he (Martin Luther King, Jr.) spoke reminded me (Ralph David Abernathy) of that day long ago when I had hurt his feelings. I explained again why I couldn't go to Washington, though he'd already heard my reasons.

"It's Revival Week. I have to get an evangelist to conduct the revival because Reverend Otis Moss can't come."

He knew it. Earlier in the week he'd tried himself to find someone for me. Now, in the motel, I began to realize how much my presence in Washington meant to him.

"Ralph, I would never think of going to Washington without you," he said. "West Hunter is the best church in the world. They'll do anything for you. You go tell them you're going to have a different kind of revival, one in which we are going to revive the soul of this nation. Will you do it?"

I sighed and nodded.

"Yes, I'll do it"

Satisfied, he began slapping his face with cologne. When he had finished, he said, "You ready to go?"

"Let me put my cologne on," I told him.

He started toward the door. "OK," he said. "I'll wait on the balcony."

As I was putting cologne on my face, I heard him talking to Jesse (Jackson), who was down below in the courtyard. I was pleased to hear the conversation and the warmth in Martin's voice. Relations between them had been cool for the past few days, ever since the exchange after the Saturday meeting. Now Martin was clearly going out of his way to assure Jesse that everything was all right.

"Jesse," he called out, "I want you to go to dinner with us tonight."

Then I heard Billy Kyle's voice, coming from the opposite end of the balcony.

"Jesse took care of that even before we had a chance to invite you," he yelled. "But tell Jesse not to invite too many other people."

I heard Jesse say something and then another voice, that of Ben Branch, who played the trumpet.

"Will Ben be there?" Martin asked Jesse.

"Yeah," Jesse called up.

"I want him to play my favorite song, `Precious Lord, Take My Hand.' "

Then I heard another familiar voice from the parking lot below, that of Solomon Jones.

"Dr. King, it's going to be cool tonight. Be sure to carry your coat."

I'll never forget it. I had sprinkled Aramis on my hands and was lifting them to my face when I heard a loud crack, and my hands jerked reflexively. It sounded like a backfire from a car, but there was just enough difference to chill my heart. I wheeled, looked out the door, and saw only Martin's feet. He was down on the concrete balcony.

I bolted out the door and found him there, face up, sprawled and unmoving. Stepping over his frame I knelt down, gathered him in my arms, and began patting him on his left cheek. Even at the first glance I could see that a bullet had entered his right cheek, leaving a small hole.

"Hit the ground!" someone shouted from the parking lot below.

"Oh, God!" someone else yelled, and I heard scuffling feet.

I looked down at Martin's face. His eyes wobbled, then for an instant focused on me.

"Martin. It's all right. Don't worry. This is Ralph. This is Ralph."

His eyes grew calm and he moved his lips. I was certain he understood and was trying to say something. Then, in the next instant, I saw the understanding drain from his eyes and leave them absolutely empty.

King Eyewitness

By Tom Fox
The Memphis Commercial-Appeal

MEMPHIS, TENN., April 5 (AP) - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his head wrapped in a towel and an oxygen mask over his face, looked small on the stretcher as he was wheeled into the emergency room of St. Joseph's Hospital at 6:16 Thursday night.

His eyes were closed, and the only sound came from the resuscitator pumping oxygen into his dying body.

I had been sent to the hospital as soon as it was confirmed that Dr. King had been shot.

Several of Dr. King's aides; his attorney, Chauncy Eskridge; and his chauffeur, Solomon Jones Jr., leaned over the stretcher. Their eyes were red, and all were silent.

As the stretcher disappeared behind the swinging double doors, Eskridge leaned on the desk in the waiting room and put his head in his hands. "Why, why would anybody want to do this? I just don't understand it." He was not going into the room where doctors were treating a gaping wound in Dr. King's neck. "I can't go in there," he said.

Other members of Dr. King's party emerged from the room and leaned against the wall. Most were crying.

Nurses ran in and out of the emergency room, pushing their way through the crowd with the help of policemen.

An aide emerged from the operating room about 15 minutes after Dr. King arrived and stood with tears running down his cheeks. "They have killed Dr. King," he said before a police officer advised him not to make any statements, and he returned to the emergency room.

Doctors remained silent on the condition of Dr. King for an hour and 15 minutes. I met a priest in the hall at 7 p.m. who had been in the room. "He must have been dead when he arrived. Oh, the terrible wound," he said, pointing to the right side of his neck.

At 7:30 several doctors lined up in front of the reception desk in the emergency room. All of Dr. King's party were called into the emergency room.

"Is he all right?" someone called out as they filed into the room. "No, he is not all right," said a Negro man standing behind one of the doctors.

Paul Hess, assistant hospital administrator, read a terse announcement which said: "At 7 p.m. Dr. Martin Luther King expired in the emergency room of a gunshot wound in the neck."

Police arrived within minutes after the ambulance and quickly posted guards at every entrance to the hospital. Two patrolmen with shotguns guarded the emergency room.

Jones,who was talking with Dr. King as the shot rang out, fought back tears as he described the assassination.

"I was standing beside the car looking right into his face. He had just come out of his room, and I had told Dr. King, 'It is getting chilly. Why don't you put on your topcoat.' "

"He said, 'OK, I will,' and smiled. He had just finished smiling when I heard the shot. Dr. King was looking right at the man, and when I turned around I saw a man with something white over his head running into the bushes toward Main Street."

"I ran up the fire escape, and when I got to him, King, he looked like he was dead. I was in shock, and the others pulled me away. I did not see the wound. A white man was the first to comfort him, with a towel. I think he was staying at the motel."

Excerpt from FRONTLINE (pbs) broadcast, April 30th, 1996…

MARSHALL FRADY: Jackson had been standing 10 feet below King, in the courtyard of the Lorraine Motel, when the shot was fired. After the initial confusion, Jackson had made his way up to the second floor balcony where King lay dying.

ANDREW YOUNG: After they removed his body, Ralph Abernathy got a jar and started scraping up the blood and said_ you know, and crying, it was Martin's precious blood. "This blood was shed for us." It was_ you know, it was weird, but people freaked out and did strange things. Jesse put his hands in the blood and wiped it on the front of his shirt, see, and it was_ it was_ I mean, what do you do in a moment like that?P> MARSHALL FRADY: Abernathy, Young and others went to the hospital. Jesse was left behind at the Lorraine, where the media began to swarm.

JESSE JACKSON: [April 4, 1968] I need to see Dr. King. Can I get a ride to see Dr. King?

REPORTER: Say, Reverend_

JESSE JACKSON: Can you excuse us, Jack?

REPORTER: Will you tell me just what happened, please?

JESSE JACKSON: Can it wait a little while?

REPORTER: Would you tell me just what happened so can get this film in, please?

CALVIN MORRIS: Jesse always senses the moment, and it was an epochal moment, and he was there.

JESSE JACKSON: The black people's leader, our Moses, the once in a 400 or 500-year leader has been taken from us by hatred and bitterness. Even as I stand at this hour, I_ I cannot even allow hate to enter my heart at this time, for it was sickness, not meanness, that killed him.

People were_ some were in pandemonium, some were in shock, some were crying, hollering, "Oh, God!" And I immediately started running upstairs to where he was and I caught his head and I tried to feel his head and I asked him, I said, "Dr. King, do you hear me? Dr. King, do you hear me?" And he didn't say anything and I tried to hold his head. And by that time_

MARSHALL FRADY: While the rest of the King's aides huddled through the night at the motel, Jackson rushed back to Chicago, where rage was already sweeping the city.

JACQUELINE JACKSON: When we were going to get in the car, it was really a silence. You know, it was "Who's going to speak first?" you know, because I didn't have the words to say and he didn't know what to say. And when he came home, he got in the bed with his shoes on and the_ and the shirt and he just laid in the bed.

MARSHALL FRADY: In public Jackson had an altogether different demeanor. It was as if he could see his destiny opening up before him at last and he rushed toward it. Fourteen hours after the shooting, he appeared on the Today show. Later that day, while listening to the solemn tributes at the Chicago city council's memorial service, Jackson tapped Mayor Daley on the shoulder and asked to speak. Pointing to his shirt, Jackson said, "This blood is on the chest and hands of those who would not have welcomed King here yesterday." Then he called for calm in the city, an end to the rioting.

Meanwhile, at Jackson's directive, a movement publicist was booking interviews on Chicago T.V. shows.

DON ROSE, Former Advisor, SCLC: They were falling all over themselves to get Jesse, and particularly as the word got out later that morning that Jesse had returned to Chicago and was wearing clothes stained with Dr. King's blood and was appearing before the city council and so forth.

MARSHALL FRADY: Don Rose accompanied Jackson to the tapings, the two men riding from studio to studio in the back seat of a car.

DON ROSE: He was thinking very clearly, thinking ahead, thinking of, frankly, his own career, the future of the movement and his role within it. And we were both reinforcing each other with the view that Jesse was a very logical successor to Dr. King.

JESSE JACKSON: [April 12, 1968] When I see you here, so much alive, asking what to do, where to turn_ I am available now. I am more convinced than ever that every time that there is a crucifixion in right and righteousness, that inevitably and universally there is a resurrection.

MARSHALL FRADY: King aides, long resentful of Jackson, saw his behavior as brazen opportunism. They were already angry that he had spoken to the press in the hours after the assassination and furious that he had so dramatically inflated his own part in the story of King's final moments.

ANDREW YOUNG: A lot of those resentments that had been buried in the movement, and that allowed us to work alongside each other, but never expressed, got expressed in the emotion and frustration of Martin's assassination.

MARSHALL FRADY: Some began retailing the story of the last meeting at Ebenezer just days before the assassination. As their story went, King had exploded at Jackson, told him to go do his own thing and leave him alone. Andy Young was standing next to Jackson when the exchange took place. He remembers King's message to Jesse was much deeper than a simple rebuke.

ANDREW YOUNG: It was shocking, in the sense that he never talked to anybody like that. And the thing that happened was that Jesse tried to encourage him_ you know, "Don't worry. Everything's going to be all right." And he turned and said, "Everything is not going to be all right" and he saw the problems that we were going into not as his problem, not as Jesse's personal problem or my personal problem, but America's problem. But he felt that the only thing that could save us was us working together to try to really and truly redeem the soul of America.

MARSHALL FRADY: That angry challenge was the last substantive thing Martin Luther King said to Jesse Jackson.

ANDREW YOUNG: No, it_ and he's never forgotten it.

LORRAINE BALCONY -- An assassin's bullet found Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis at 6:01 p.m. April 4, 1968, dropping him to the concrete near his second floor room. Aides and others rushed to his side, then pointed in the direction from which the shot came. Kneeling at King's side is Marrell McCollough, an undercover Memphis police officer. Others on the balcony included Andrew Young (left) and Mary Hunt (right), a teenage clerical assistant. King was hit on the right side of his face, near the jaw; he died in the emergency room of St. Joseph Hospital at 7:05 p.m.
(Photograph by Joseph Louw / Copyright, Time Warner)

JACKSON AT THE LORRAINE -- In the courtyard of the Lorraine Motel after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and fatally wounded April 4, 1968, Rev. Jesse Jackson, a King aide, talked with Shelby County Sheriff William N. Morris Jr. (left) and Claude Armour, former Memphis fire and police commissioner who served as law enforcement special assistant to Tennessee Gov. Buford Ellington. "The bullet exploded in his face...It was similar to the Kennedy incident. The police were all around, but there is no military protection against an ambush and he was ambushed," said Jackson.
(Photograph by Sam Melhorn, The Commercial Appeal)

a candid conversation with the the fiery heir apparent to martin luther king

In the 19 months since the murder of Martin Luther King, only one man has emerged as a likely heir to the slain leader's pre-eminent position in the civil rights movement: Jesse Louis Jackson, the 27-year-old economic director of King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Reverend Jackson's first national exposure, in fact, came as a result of his closeness to Dr. King. He was talking to King on the porch of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis when the fatal shot was fired and cradled the dying man in his arms. The very next day, at a Chicago City Council meeting, Mayor Richard Daley read a eulogy that pledged a "commitment to the goals for which Dr. King stood." The Reverend Jackson had flown in from Memphis without sleep to attend the ceremony; he stood up in a sweater stained with Dr. King's blood and shouted to the assembled Chicago political establishment, "His blood is on the hands of you who would not have welcomed him here yesterday."
That gesture demonstrated both the militant indignation and the dramatic flair that mark Jackson's charismatic style. The New York Times has written that he "sounds a little like the late Reverend Martin Luther King and a little like a Black Panther." It added that "almost everyone who has seen Mr. Jackson in operation acknowledged that he is probably the most persuasive black leader on the national scene."

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; News/Current Events
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To know him is to love him.

Actually, there are a few items I didn't find for this compendium that would be of interest...

Tanscripts and/or photos of either Jesse Jackson's April 1968 "Bloody Shirt" appearances on the Today Show or his at his press conference with Mayor Daley of Chicago.

1 posted on 03/05/2002 11:41:22 AM PST by Sabertooth
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2 posted on 03/05/2002 11:55:26 AM PST by Texaggie79
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To: Sabertooth
Bump for later.
3 posted on 03/05/2002 11:56:23 AM PST by Victoria Delsoul
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To: CheneyChick; vikingchick; Victoria Delsoul; WIMom; one_particular_harbour; kmiller1k; Snow Bunny...

4 posted on 03/05/2002 11:59:57 AM PST by Sabertooth
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Apologies if this table is wide and screwy. I'm told that not eveyone is seeing it as I formatted it (though I am)... not sure why that is.

Apparently, not all browsers render HTML the same way.

5 posted on 03/05/2002 12:05:34 PM PST by Sabertooth
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To: Sabertooth
Like algore always said "a leopard never changes its stripes".....or once a race pimp, always ......or something like that.
6 posted on 03/05/2002 12:06:45 PM PST by patriot_wes
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To: Sabertooth
This is a FReeper Hall of Fame thread.
7 posted on 03/05/2002 12:08:02 PM PST by doug from upland
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To: Sabertooth
I know this may sound conspiratorial but the assumption here is that King was murdered, and Jesse simply, like the opportunist he is, attempted to step in and fill the void.

However, this begs the question. Wasn't it Jesse who benefitted the most from the assasination of King?

8 posted on 03/05/2002 12:13:55 PM PST by Demidog
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To: Sabertooth
9 posted on 03/05/2002 12:17:28 PM PST by harpseal
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To: Sabertooth
By the way. It is my belief that the only black leader of that era with any integrity was Malcom X, a Muslim. He was a far more dangerous leader than any other to the establishment because he preached independence and an aversion to any government help. His message was that blacks already had freedom and merely had to excercise it. A far cry from the "crawl to the government and beg for your freedom" message that was being touted by King and later Jackson.
10 posted on 03/05/2002 12:17:32 PM PST by Demidog
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To: Sabertooth
11 posted on 03/05/2002 12:27:50 PM PST by MeekOneGOP
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Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: Demidog
By the way. It is my belief that the only black leader of that era with any integrity was Malcom X, a Muslim.

Where your sympathies lie isn't exactly news, FemiFog :). But why do you think it's of interest?

13 posted on 03/05/2002 12:33:33 PM PST by Cachelot
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To: Sabertooth
I always thought Jackson's calling Dr. King to the railing was a little odd.

But what is really strange is his behavior after his mentor and friend was killed. I mean, think about what King meant to people like Abernathy and, ostensibly, Jackson. Imagine yourself in that scene. Jackson, minutes after King was killed, wiped King's blood on his shirt. Shortly thereafter, he started giving press conferences.

Would you be able to switch gears that quickly from fear and grief to career advancement and self-positioning? I don't think most people could, unless they were incredibly callous, or they expected it to happen and were prepared to take advantage of it.

14 posted on 03/05/2002 12:34:33 PM PST by LouD
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To: doug from upland
Thanks, Doug.

BTW, I wonder where the Bloody Shirt is now?

15 posted on 03/05/2002 12:35:54 PM PST by Sabertooth
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To: Crunchy Jello;Sabertooth
I can see the whole thing if I maximize IE and close the history/favorites window.
16 posted on 03/05/2002 12:38:19 PM PST by Dakmar
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To: Sabertooth
"In Memphis, Dr. King's chief associates met in his room after he died. They included Mr. Young, Mr. Abernathy, Mr. Jackson, the Rev. James Bevel and Hosea Williams. They had to step across a drying pool of Dr. King's blood to enter. Someone had thrown a crumpled pack of cigarettes into the blood. After 15 minutes they emerged. Mr. Jackson looked at the blood. He embraced Mr. Abernathy."

Hmmm, thanks Saber. Good job!

17 posted on 03/05/2002 12:42:19 PM PST by Victoria Delsoul
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To: Dakmar
I can see the whole thing if I maximize IE and close the history/favorites window.

As can I (at 800 x 600 resolution).

I'm learning that different versions of different browsers render HTML differently... isn't that nice?

I formatted this using Explorer 5 for Mac.

18 posted on 03/05/2002 12:42:22 PM PST by Sabertooth
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To: Victoria Delsoul

19 posted on 03/05/2002 12:46:05 PM PST by Sabertooth
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To: Sabertooth
My memory must be really poor. Dr. Martin Luther King goes down in history, because , he preached non-violence. My memory is there was violence at every town he spoke in. I know there was violence in Evansville, IN. A curfew had to be imposed after his speech. Does anyone else have the same memories that I have?
20 posted on 03/05/2002 12:48:56 PM PST by auggy
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