Bearing Witness: Rev. Kyles

There are lots of media folks in Memphis this week at the National Civil Rights Museum, including Tavis Smiley who interviewed Rev. Samuel “Billy” Kyles, who was on the balcony with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was assassinated. In this clip, Rev. Kyles describes the lightheartedness that preceded that horrific moment and what he has come to view as his purpose in being there:

Full interview on Tavis Smiley tonight.


  1. Seattle in Texas

    I just wanted to take a quick moment to remember a very special scholar, who was a proud Native Texan, was ordained in a Southern Baptist Church in Texas at 18 years old, and wrote his dissertation on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His name was Dr. Ronnie E. Turner one of his primary areas was Sociology of Religion. Dr. Turner worked with Dr. King and shared memories on occasion—Dr. Turner also remembered Dr. King’s humor and shared a moment when they were eating Kentucky Fried Chicken and watermelon. I cannot remember exactly how it went as explained by Dr. Turner, but Dr. King made a joke about a white man eating chicken (Dr. Turner was the only white man there at that time…as well as many other times…but apparently chicken jokes/stereotypes were around even back then and Dr. King had fun with it). Sadly Dr. Turner passed away just a few years ago. But I thought I would pass on Dr. Turner’s memories also—anybody interested in reading his work on Dr. King can certainly look it up, as well as his other works. He was a fine professor and missed by many. Jessie, thank you so much for sharing the clip above–both Rev. Smiley and Turner have/had similar spirits and memories of Dr. King that need to be captured and remembered.

  2. Seattle in Texas

    I have to add one more thing—a personal memory of Dr. Turner. He was the ONLY professor/scholar I have ever met that took soooo much pride in his track record for being called to the Dean’s office for his, quite often, controversial and/or “offensive” lectures…and other things…. We need more Dr. Turners….

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