Former Ohio State Professor Shares Story Of How Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death Sparked His Civil Rights Activism

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UPDATED: Monday January 20, 2014 6:08 PM

Former Ohio State University professor Peter Rogers has penned a book entitled “With Malice Toward None: The Night Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Was Killed.”

In the book, Rogers writes about the April night encounter in 1968 inside a Memphis hospital after Dr. King was killed.    

Rogers was a second year medical student at the University of Tennessee-Memphis when he took a shortcut through the hospital which brought a stunning, chance encounter.

He says he was stunned when he saw the remains of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a body bag on a gurney, being wheeled down the hallway.

“There were two policemen guarding the body. And, I asked the policeman ‘Is that Dr. King?’ He said, ‘Yeah. Who are you?’” recalled Rogers.

Rogers said that he was just a mourner to which the guard replied, “Go mourn somewhere else, boy.”

“I didn't move very fast and he put his hand on his gun,” said Rogers.

Rogers says the officer's gruffness reminded him of the tension surrounding the Civil Rights movement back then.

Minutes earlier, Rogers had stormed out his fraternity house after his classmates started celebrating King's assassination.

“They brought down the Jack Daniels, the beer came out. They had a party.”

Rogers says the whole experience changed him. In the weeks that followed, Rogers got deeply-involved in the civil rights movement. He joined marches, carried placards and supported lunch counter sit-ins. He saw the courage of non-violence in the midst of raw hatred.

“God gave me the opportunity to meet some very brave people, both black and white. And, I got to know them. And, I saw how they acted and I wanted to act like that and I want my kids to act like that,” said Rogers.

Rogers remains pessimistic about race matters in America in 2014. He says a lot of opportunities have opened up for minorities in the decades since Dr. King, but he's not sure many hearts have been changed.

Publishing houses told Rogers that Civil Rights books do not sell well.

He’s currently selling it online.

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