Officials believe that James Earl Ray assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. because of his hatred of blacks and Dr. King's leadership in the civil rights movement. Ray, who had a long criminal history, was an admitted racist and openly opposed integration and the effort of blacks to achieve equality.
Ray initially confessed to shooting Dr. King shortly after his arrest but quickly recanted it, claiming his attorney had coerced his confession. He at various times blamed a Canadian smuggler, identified only as Raul, and a Memphis bar owner named Lloyd Jowers, for the shooting. In later years, he claimed to have been framed as part of a vast government conspiracy involving the FBI, CIA, U.S. Army and the Mafia. All of these parties were motivated by racial prejudice and the desire to preserve segregation, according to Ray, who maintained his innocence until his death in 1998.