Tyrone Brooks’ frantic drive to Memphis

Tyrone Brooks and other civil rights leaders speak at a civil rights rally at the Walton County Historic Courthouse in Monroe, Ga. on Feb. 20, 1982.
MANDATORY CREDIT: BUD SKINNER / THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

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Tyrone Brooks and other civil rights leaders speak at a civil rights rally at the Walton County Historic Courthouse in Monroe, Ga. on Feb. 20, 1982. MANDATORY CREDIT: BUD SKINNER / THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Voices of King Podcast

Tyrone Brooks had never driven so fast in his young life.

But there he was in the early morning hours of April 5, 1968, racing toward Memphis in a brand-new white Thunderbird.

The 22-year-old was determined to reach the city where Martin Luther King Jr. had just been murdered hours earlier on April 4.

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State representative Tyrone Brooks recollects: "They said King was dead, and pretty soon we were going to be dead with that nonviolent teaching."

Credit: Pouya Dianat / AJC

State representative Tyrone Brooks recollects: "They said King was dead, and pretty soon we were going to be dead with that nonviolent teaching."

Credit: Pouya Dianat / AJC

Combined ShapeCaption
State representative Tyrone Brooks recollects: "They said King was dead, and pretty soon we were going to be dead with that nonviolent teaching."

Credit: Pouya Dianat / AJC

Credit: Pouya Dianat / AJC

The Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, who suddenly became the new president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, had summoned all members to Memphis to quickly strategize the next steps for the organization.

When Brooks arrived at 2 a.m., Memphis was burning.

Abernathy told the distraught Brooks: “If we loved Martin, we will be committed to fulfilling his dream.”

In this 2008 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Brooks sat down to talk about the last days of King and the immediate impact of his death.

Voices of King

Part of a project marking the then 40th anniversary of King’s death, Brooks was one of 13 people that The AJC sat down with to record their stories and shed light on the life and death of the civil rights leader.

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This 1968 file photo was taken minutes after an assassin's bullet struck Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968. According to the photographer, Joseph Louw, the men at right, several of Dr. King's aides, stand over King's body as they point out to police where they heard the shot.

This 1968 file photo was taken minutes after an assassin's bullet struck Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968. According to the photographer, Joseph Louw, the men at right, several of Dr. King's aides, stand over King's body as they point out to police where they heard the shot.

Combined ShapeCaption
This 1968 file photo was taken minutes after an assassin's bullet struck Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968. According to the photographer, Joseph Louw, the men at right, several of Dr. King's aides, stand over King's body as they point out to police where they heard the shot.

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

Along with Brooks, Earl Caldwell, Andrew Young, 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.