Program Title

King Stories:  (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

Program Description

King Stories is a one hour documentary of captivating stories told by close friends and associates of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Host Julian Bond, along with insiders—Ralph Abernathy, David Garrow, Dick Gregory, Mark Lane and Larry Williams—share rarely documented stories about the personal and private sides of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Notably one of the most significant Americans in the 20th Century, Dr. King is an iconic figure. But who was the man? King Stories offers snapshots into his personality and character. We begin with Dr. King’s precocious teenage years followed by close-ups of behind the scenes accounts of day-to-day life on the road marching and protesting for American black civil rights. We hear a moving account of Dr. King’s last conversation just minutes before he was struck down by a sniper’s bullet, and the disclosures of the highly controversial investigation into his murder.

Broadcast History

Executive Producer Dorothy Green conducted the interviews in this documentary in 1988. Ralph Abernathy, Larry Williams, Julian Bond, Mark Lane, and Dick Gregory are all deceased. Prior to this freshly edited—with sound design—version of King Stories, the original version first aired on public radio stations in January 1989.  


JULIAN BOND,  King Stories host, attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia where he met a young Martin Luther King Jr. during the seminal years of the American Civil Rights Movement. In 1960, Bond helped start the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and soon became the organization’s spokesperson. He played a critical part in organizing student protests that paved the way for the integration of Atlanta’s movie theaters, lunch counters, and public parks. Bond served in the Georgia House and Georgia Senate and was president of the Atlanta branch of the NAACP prior to being elected to chair its national board. Bond held 25 honorary degrees. Time magazine named him as one of America’s top 200 leaders. He hosted America’s Black Forum, the oldest black-owned show in television syndication and narrated numerous documentaries, including the award-winning Eyes on the Prize series. A collection of Bond’s essays is published under the title A Time to Speak, A Time to Act. Other poems and articles have appeared in several publications, including the Nation, Life, and New York Times. Mr. Bond died in the summer of 2015.


RALPH ABERNATHY was a minister, a pioneer in the Black Civil Rights Movement, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s closest friend for over a decade. In 1955, he collaborated with Dr. King to create the Montgomery Improvement Association which spearheaded the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Abernathy co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Dr. King and became its president after King’s assignation. In 1968, he led the Poor People’s Campaign March on Washington, D.C. He eventually returned to the ministry, and in 1989—the year before his death—Abernathy wrote the controversial book, "And the Walls Came Tumbling Down: An Autobiography." The publication put him at odds with many key black leaders who had been his closest allies and friends throughout the Civil Rights Movement.  Reverend Abernathy died in 1990.


MARK LANE is a well-known author, lawyer and social activist whose involvement in the American Civil Rights Movement began in the early 1960s. Lane participated in the first Freedom Rides in the south and was the only public official arrested in Jackson, Mississippi during a demonstration with Dr. King. After the murder of King, Lane was convinced from his investigation that James Earl Ray was not guilty of King’s murder. Co-author of the controversial book, “Code Name Zorro” (later retitled, “Murder in Memphis,”) Lane presents a sequence of suspenseful events that led up to the murder of Dr. King. Lane is a spellbinding storyteller.  Mr. Lane died in 2016.


DICK GREGORY is best known as a writer, activist and comedian. While still a teenager in high school, Gregory began his quest for black civil rights by heading up a protest against segregated schools in St. Louis, Missouri. Later, inspired by the work and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gregory used his celebrity status to help draw crowds to civil rights rallies lead by King. After the assassination of Dr. King, he and his friend, Mark Lane, shared in the authorship of the book, “Code Name Zorro: The Murder of Martin Luther King Jr.”  Later renamed, “Murder in Memphis,” the book presents their investigation into King’s murder.  Mr. Gregory died in 2017.


DAVID J. GARROW was Professor of Law & History and Distinguished Faculty Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. His book, “Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference” won him the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Biography and the seventh annual Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Garrow is also the author of “The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr.” and “Protest at Selma.”  Garrow served as a senior advisor for “Eyes on the Prize,” the award-winning PBS television history of the American Black freedom struggle. Some of the publications he regularly contributes to are the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the American Prospect. Professor Garrow's website:


REV. LARRY H. WILLIAMS was 19 and Martin Luther King, Jr was 15 when they met at Ebenezer Baptist Church and became best friends. As King’s closest teenage and college friend, Williams remarks years later that “King was more advanced for his years. He wanted to be an adult.” Revealing their young men’s mischief, Williams recalls how he and King would “slip out of Ebenezer” to attend other churches to observe the preaching techniques of other well-known Atlanta pastors. Sharing a calling to the ministry, Reverend Williams was the pastor at Atlanta’s Zion Hill Baptist Church for many years. Rev. Williams died in 2003.