Voices of King podcast and the Rev. Billy Kyles’ dinner that never was

Rev. Billy Kyles: 'The nomination is an honor for so many people.'

caption arrowCaption
Rev. Billy Kyles: 'The nomination is an honor for so many people.'

They were on their way to dinner.

In the early evening hours of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. stepped out onto the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis to gather his troops.

Soon, they would be expected at the home of the Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles for dinner.

The prominent pastor of Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis, Kyles had helped organize King’s visit to town.

caption arrowCaption
"There was a great hole in the side of his face. There was blood everywhere," said Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kyles of Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn.

Credit: Pouya Dianat / AJC

"There was a great hole in the side of his face. There was blood everywhere," said Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kyles of Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn.

Credit: Pouya Dianat / AJC

caption arrowCaption
"There was a great hole in the side of his face. There was blood everywhere," said Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kyles of Monumental Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn.

Credit: Pouya Dianat / AJC

Credit: Pouya Dianat / AJC

But as they gathered, a shot rang out.

In this 2008 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kyles sat down to talk about King’s last hours and his influence.

Part of a project marking the then 40th anniversary of King’s death, Kyles was one of 13 people that The AJC sat down with to record their stories about the civil rights leader’s last days.

caption arrowCaption
In this April 3, 1968 file photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stands with other civil rights leaders on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., a day before he was assassinated at approximately the same place. From left are Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, King, and Ralph Abernathy. King is one of America's most famous victims of gun violence. Just as guns were a complicated issue for King in his lifetime, they loom large over the 30th anniversary of the holiday honoring his birthday. (AP Photo/Charles Kelly, File)

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

In this April 3, 1968 file photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stands with other civil rights leaders on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., a day before he was assassinated at approximately the same place. From left are Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, King, and Ralph Abernathy. King is one of America's most famous victims of gun violence. Just as guns were a complicated issue for King in his lifetime, they loom large over the 30th anniversary of the holiday honoring his birthday. (AP Photo/Charles Kelly, File)

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

caption arrowCaption
In this April 3, 1968 file photo, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stands with other civil rights leaders on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., a day before he was assassinated at approximately the same place. From left are Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, King, and Ralph Abernathy. King is one of America's most famous victims of gun violence. Just as guns were a complicated issue for King in his lifetime, they loom large over the 30th anniversary of the holiday honoring his birthday. (AP Photo/Charles Kelly, File)

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Rev. Samuel Billy Kyles

We are re-releasing these interviews as a 13-part podcast hosted by Multimedia Journalist Ryon Horne.

Along with Earl Caldwell, Andrew Young, Tyrone Brooks, Christine King Farris, Martin Luther King III, Xernona Clayton and Bernice King, and those who have left us — including Kyle, Juanita Abernathy, Ralph David Abernathy III, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, Congressman John Lewis, Kathryn Johnson — each gives us a glimpse, through their relationships with King, inside the making of history.

Each episode will be made available through the Unapologetically ATL newsletter, but you can also subscribe to “The Voices of King” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts so you never miss an episode.

About the Author

Editors' Picks