Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 31 October 2017

‘The Searchers’ at the Cary Theater

The SearchersThe Cary Theater

The Cary Theater
122 E. Chatham Street, Cary, NC
Friday, November 10, 7:00 p.m.
one-night showing
followed by panel discussion and Q&A
Ticket Purchases by Phone: 1-800-514-3849

“One of the best films ever done on the case.”
— Robert Groden
Groden’s praise for this film is not to be taken lightly, as he is considered perhaps the premier photo and film expert on the subject of the assassination of President John Kennedy.

The award-winning film The Searchers is the creation of North Carolina documentary filmmaker Randolph Benson. Calling itself “a portrait of researchers of the assassination of John F. Kennedy,” the film tells the stories of those men and women who devoted innumerable hours, months, years of their lives to researching the case — selflessly and with the sole goal of the Truth. And why would they not? A large majority of the American people have consistently and willingly told pollsters that they do not believe the official version of history — that “lone nut” nebbish Lee Oswald single-handedly murdered the president.

My wife and I had the great pleasure earlier this year to view the film’s East Coast premiere, and I wrote afterward that “the audience at Chapel Hill’s Varsity Theater seemed unanimous in their admiration of the film’s quality, and the vital slice of American history it has preserved so heroically.”

I heartily invite everyone to see it on November 10. (See the film’s trailer below.)

The Cary Theater is a wonderful venue, but it is not huge. The auditorium’s limited number of seats will sell quickly, so I urge you to purchase your advance tickets immediately!

Randolph Benson

Randolph Benson

Fourteen years in the making, the film uses never-before-seen interviews, archival footage and recently declassified documents to chronicle the past and present of these ordinary citizens and their contributions to revealing the truth about the crime of the 20th century.

Suffering ridicule, and being labeled with the intellectual scarlet letter of conspiracy theorists, these individuals have challenged the institutions of power for over 50 years. They have fought against great odds to, as they often proclaim, “take back our history!”

The film features a literal “Who’s Who” of those who have given most to the investigation: Cyril Wecht, Robert Groden, Josiah Thompson, Mark Lane, John Judge, Jim Marrs, Jim DiEugenio, Debra Conway, Gary Aguilar, Lisa Pease, Rex Bradford, Walt Brown, Andy Winiarczyk and John Kelin, among many others.

A “great strength of the film is that it is made for an audience that is not necessarily expert in all things JFK,” noted film critic Joseph Green. “The director made it, in his words, for ‘himself, before I got into all this.'” These researchers were at first scorned, then completely shunned, by the mainstream media — having the effect of caricaturing the people and censoring their message. This film “counters that by simply letting the critics speak about the case without being interfered with. . . . The great achievement of the film is to humanize the researchers themselves.”

Randolph Benson (whom I am fortunate and honored to call friend) is an award-winning, Durham-based filmmaker. His films have garnered the Gold Medal in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Student Academy Awards and a Kodak Excellence in Filmmaking Award at the Cannes Film Festival, among others. His work has been featured on the Bravo Network, the Independent Film Channel and UNC-TV as well as several international channels.

A graduate of Wake Forest University and the North Carolina School of the Arts, Benson has taught at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for more than 10 years. He is author of the article “JFK, Oswald and the Raleigh Connection,” as well as the highly intriguing and informative “13 Documents You Should Read About the JFK Assassination.”

As is, alas, the case with all too many highly deserving documentaries, The Searchers is not currently set for national release. That is all the more reason you should see it in Cary on Friday night, November 10. Even if (and maybe “especially if”) you do not know much about the JFK assassination, you need to see the human drama of these men and women unfold in Benson’s deft telling. Seriously.



The Searchers





Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 26 October 2017

Do Two Exceptions Prove the JFK Rule?

It seemed to me that, in the run-up to the deadline date for the release of the JFK Assassination documents, the national media were really trying very hard to make it into a story — and by that I mean, a really big story with mega-overtones. It was almost painful at times to watch them report it, struggling to find an appropriate historical or political underpinning (translation: spin) to put on it.

Many of the reports were collective “ooo-ing” and “ahhh-ing” about it, and it was easy to believe they were making a bigger deal of the “event” than was warranted. Yes, it’s high time these documents finally are coming out of deep freeze, but it’s going to take quite a while for us to know everything that’s in them, and how important (if at all) they will be in the grand scheme of things.

The national media have grown accustomed to the 24-hour news cycle, where, if a story is more than a day old, it’s ancient. I think they wanted (and maybe a few were actually expecting) the documents to be released at 8:01 a.m., and by 9:15, the entire JFK assassination to be solved.

The old aphorism says that it is the exception which proves the rule. And such was the case here — twice. I’m very happy to report that both the UNC Public Radio program The State of Things and The News and Observer (nicknamed “The Old Reliable” for several decades long ago) got it right.

The State of Things — Frank Stasio, host; UNC Public Radio (11:49)

Camila Molina article
Camila MolinaCamila Molina’s article in the News and Observer, “Will the JFK files tell us more about Lee Oswald’s call to Raleigh?“, which was published on both the N&O and Herald/Sun websites, has set itself and its author apart.

It’s thanks to a journalist who did her homework, researched the facts, digested them without prejudice, and reported them clearly, accurately, and without editorializing. You wouldn’t think this would be so unusual, would you? But Camila Molina distinguished and differentiated herself from a large number of her colleagues from years past, who were not known for unprejudiced, well-informed reporting of the issues surrounding the investigation into the JFK Assassination.

I was pleased to be interviewed by her for the article, and happy that I am able to commend her for her obvious grasp of the facts which I discerned from the questions she asked.




Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 21 October 2017

Trump Tweets ‘Yes’ to JFK Document Release

I’ve been peppered with questions from family, friends, and even the media (I’ll be interviewed live on BBC-TV early Thursday morning), wanting to know the significance of President Trump’s Saturday announcement that he would permit the release of all remaining classified documents related to the assassination of President Kennedy.

It’s an excellent question, and one that has myriad possibilities. Here’s a shortened version of my take on the matter.

JFK Trump tweet 2
Background. There have been 3 major investigations, by various parts of the Federal government, of the JFK assassination —

  1. The so-called Warren Commission (Report issued 1964; 888 pages); President Johnson strong-armed Chief Justice Earl Warren to chair the Commission in order to affirm to the public the “truth” that Lee Oswald alone killed the president.
  2. The so-called Schweiker-Hart Senate Sub-Committee, part of the Church Select Committee on Intelligence (Report issued 1976; 106 pages); Richard Schweiker and Gary Hart investigated the Monkey Business committed by and associated with the American Intelligence agencies related to the JFK assassination; and
  3. The House Select Committee on Assassinations (Report issued 1979; 686 pages); this committee was formed to further investigate the assassinations of both President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and was the first one to suggest the possibility of a conspiracy to kill JFK.

All of these efforts to “find out the truth” about the assassination relied for information on various national law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including the FBI, the CIA, Secret Service, etc. As a matter of wrapping up their work, each of the investigations boxed up all of the documents they had collected from these agencies, along with their internal working papers, and en masse declared them “classified” for various long periods of time. Honestly, none of them ever offered a reason for hiding all this information that I (and huge numbers of others) ever found credible or satisfying.

The perceived inadequacies, inconsistencies, and pre-conceived conclusions associated with the Warren Commission’s year-long investigation and its findings would have been enough by itself for people to demand to see all of these sealed-away documents. But it was Commission Chairman Earl Warren himself who lit the fuel of urgency. When he was asked if all of the Commission’s information would be made public, he replied, “Yes, there will come a time. But it might not be in your lifetime.

Congress: “Release ‘Em.” In 1992, the last full year of the presidency of George H. W. Bush, Congress listened to the rising voice of public pressure by passing (with the president’s signature) the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act.

The law required that agencies throughout the Federal Government transfer assassination-related records to the National Archives, and thus the JFK Assassination Records Collection was born. The Archives’ web site notes that the law required that “all records previously withheld [from release to the public] either in part or in full should be released on October 26, 2017, unless authorized for further withholding by the President of the United States. The 2017 date derives directly from the law that states:

Each assassination record shall be publicly disclosed in full, and available in the Collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, unless the President certifies, as required by this Act, that –

(i) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement or conduct of foreign relations; and

(ii) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.

“The Act was signed by President Bush on October 26, 1992, thus the final release date is October 26, 2017.”

Dribs and Drabs. During the intervening 25 years, the National Archives has released a steady stream of documents, generally well indexed, so that searching was made almost easy. However, as the 2017 deadline approached, the speed of the releases failed to satisfy the researchers. Describing the pace as having dropped to “snail-like” and “in dribs and drabs,” information hunters approached the date of October 26, 2017 with increasing and seemingly justified skepticism. Would the full, uncensored documents be forthcoming?

On July 24 of this year, the Archives released a batch of 441 “formerly withheld-in-full documents” and 3,369 documents previously released with portions redacted. While this was a huge chunk of .PDFs to pore through, a little arithmetic told researchers there was a huge number more hidden documents promised for October. The debate raged as to whether it would actually happen — with consensus overwhelmingly leaning to the negative. According to figures supplied by the National Archives, there could be as many as 50,000 documents “identified as assassination-related remaining withheld in full.”

Will we see 50,000 documents on October 26? Unlikely. But you get the gist of the order of magnitude with which we are dealing.

JFK Liberty ButtonSo, What Will Happen? I don’t know, but I perceive there are 3 issues raised by all of this, which we may briefly consider to end this essay — (1) lessons from the July 2017 release, (2) options remaining for the President, and (3) how likely is it that a “smoking gun” will be found?

The July 2017 Bomb (Dud?) That Dropped. As I awaited my (electronic) copies of the almost 4,000 documents in July, I knew it would be an Everest-sized miracle if there were any sort of indexing done. Well, there’s no crying in baseball, and there are no miracles in Government.

Remember that above I mentioned the great value and ease imparted by the fact that the documents currently in the Archives’ JFK Collection are generally very well indexed. If I want to know what, if any, documents are in the collection pertaining to the Raleigh, NC man that Lee Oswald was attempting to call from the Dallas jail, all I have to do when I’m at the National Archives Annex in College Park is enter “John David Hurt.” Out pops a list of all documents (released prior to this year’s July mass batch) in which his name appears.

The fact that there was virtually NO indexing done for the July release (and certainly will not have been done for whatever comes out in October) means that months or years of slogging, page by page, through thousands of documents, will be the only way new knowledge is gained. Fortunately, I know for a fact that there are a large number of info-craving individuals out there who will gleefully, carefully, and painstakingly take that very route. The point is… when the documents are released on October 26, don’t expect Fox News or the Huffington Post to immediately be able to give you the run-down on what it contained. The prospect harkens back to Earl Warren’s prescient prediction of “not in your lifetime.”

What Might the President Do, and Why Might He Do It? Scroll back up to look at President Trump’s tweet about the JFK documents. The first 7 words immediately jumped out at me when I first read it: “Subject to the receipt of further information…” Words are important in Washington, and in government in general. That caveat obviously meant something important, and we should take note of it. Should the president want an “out” (or should someone “convince” him that it would be in his best interests to make one), the original law that mandated the October 26 release provided an escape route from his otherwise plain duty to release all the documents.

If you look above at the Roman numerals (i) and (ii) in the excerpt from the law quoted there, you’ll see exactly the “out” he has. Will he use that “out”? Or will he defy the Intelligence agencies that are strongly calling for a delay or denial of the release of some documents in the Archive? Or — a third possibility — was this just a ploy all along? The tweet allows him to appear as a champion of transparent (or at least translucent) government, while keeping the door open for him to later say, “Well, I tried. But I simply cannot put our Intelligence agents (or law enforcement or military) in the kind of danger that releasing some of these documents would do. It is with my greatest respect for what these brave men and women do to protect us every day that I will protect them by delaying the scheduled release until such time as we can be certain that their safety will not be compromised.”

Frankly, I could see it going any of those three ways.

There will be no smoking gun.

There will be no smoking gun.

A “Smoking Gun”? This one is somewhat easier for me, as I have been giving the same answer for the entire 40+ years I have been researching, writing, and lecturing about the assassination. There will be no smoking gun.

Mentally walk with me for a couple of minutes, and let me show you why I am absolutely convinced this is so. For the moment, we should assume the worst. Assume that there was a big Conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. (After all, if Lee Oswald were the sole assassin, there would be no need to look for or hide a “smoking gun,” would there?)

No matter who actually was involved in the Conspiracy, the investigative and intelligence agencies would have, some time or other, come across something that could serve as a “smoking gun” — perhaps not identifying the shooters or the groups behind them, but enough at least to prove beyond doubt that there were others involved. That’s a “smoking gun” for Conspiracy if I ever heard one — and the “Lee Oswald = Lone Nut” narrative immediately flies out the window if this document ever sees the light of day.

Let’s further assume that this document finds its way to one of the 3 Federal investigations listed above. Someone sees it, and says, “If the public saw this today, there would be a strong clamor for the president to either bomb Russia or bomb Cuba or break the CIA into a thousand pieces, or whatever. National crisis. We have our dead ‘lone nut’ assassin, so let’s just keep him as that. This document cannot see the light of day.” Are you with me so far?

So logically and realistically, what do you think happens to that document? Does it get put into a folder and later classified for 75 years? Or does it find its way to the shredder or incinerator? Anyone high enough in the government with sufficient power to be able to make such a file-away-or-burn decision would, it seems to me, make absolutely certain no one ever saw that piece of paper again. Thus, I have always said that the declassifying of documents will never solve the case in one fell swoop.

BUT … having said that, I don’t want you to leave here thinking I am saying that the October 26 document dump (and the one from July) are pointless wastes of time. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s continue our mental walk together. The National Archives revealed that it inherited 5,000,000 documents from the various agencies, as a result of the 1992 JFK Assassination Records Collection Act. Think of this, if you will, as a 5,000,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. By saying above that I believe that no “smoking gun” will be found, all that means is that there will not be found in the puzzle box one single piece (a “smoking piece,” if you will) that will magically reveal the whole picture.

The logical alternative, however, is that by careful examination of all of the pieces, and finding how they fit together, that picture will slowly, inexorably appear. That is how we’ve progressed in the overall investigation to date. We must recognize that there are some pieces that are very small that will not likely to reveal much of the overall picture. But when combined with these 2 here, and those 5 over there, etc., first a pattern, then a picture, begins to emerge.

Therefore, the document dump on October 26 will not be July 4 fireworks-worthy. It won’t be a compelling, sexy, rah-rah, 007-type event. Oliver Stone will almost certainly not make a movie about October 26. But it will mark one more step, albeit halting and long overdue.

Had it had not been for public opinion rising up to demand the release of the hidden documents in the 1980s and early 1990s, October 26, 2017 would just be one more day of walking past the Christmas decorations to find the Halloween candy.

Let’s keep the cry of public opinion strong and persistent for the Truth about who killed our President.

Release the Documents




Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 1 October 2017

When B.B. and Bono Came to Town

I just finished reading Blues All Around Me — the autobiography of B.B. King. And I am even more deeply filled with admiration for the humility and grace of the man, and for the towering genius of his music.
B.B. King
Purposely written (by co-author David Ritz) in the style of the great Blues Man’s speech, the book was completed and published when King was 71 years old. As a memoir, it is above all honest, thorough, frank (shockingly so, at times), and both gently self-effacing and keenly self-aware. There were many passages that were just so wonderful (for this true fan of B.B. King) that I had to search out my wife and read them out loud to her.

Now I’m seeking you out, to let you read one of my favorite passages from the book.

Writing about B.B. King is becoming one of my favorite things to do. I have two previous essays about “The King of the Blues,” my personal obituary for him from 2015 and his (and others’) take on the question of whether Elvis was a racist. (Spoiler alert: everyone who knew him, including King and the many giants of Black music, all agree that Elvis “didn’t have a racist bone in his body.”)

In this new essay, I’m sharing the history of one particularly huge hit song by B.B. King, which has always spoken directly and forcefully to me.

If you know and love B.B King’s music, then I’d be willing to bet that one of your favorite songs by him is “When Love Comes to Town.” It was written especially for him, words by Bono and music by his rock group U2. It’s way up there among my favorites, and among the songs most likely to stir my emotions — with good reason. It comes across as a perfect fusion of the blues of B.B. King and the unique rock style of U2, as it was always intended to be.

U2's Bono and B.B. King

U2’s Bono and B.B. King

In the excerpt (below) from Blues All Around Me, B.B. King tells how the song came to be written, how the special relationship between him and Bono started and grew, and how this song was fundamental in introducing a whole new generation to the American Blues and the Blues Master himself. You’ll see how the song’s poetry was what first drew King to the song (“Real heavy lyrics. You’re mighty young to write such heavy lyrics!” he told a slightly embarrassed Bono). Couple this with a powerful, driving musical foundation, plus the lyrical cries of King’s guitar “Lucille,” and there was no question it would be a winner. (Below the excerpt, I’ve put a link to the song’s music video, which is seasoned with concert footage and other visuals from Rattle and Hum, the documentary film featuring U2.)

B.B. King never liked being called “The King of the Blues,” but everyone always did anyway. At the time this excerpt begins, he has at least become the leading Elder Statesman of the Blues. His long-time manager, Sid Seidenberg, was in the middle of a multi-year project to get King’s artistry in front of larger and more varied audiences. Sid understood King’s genius perhaps at a more fundamental level than anyone, and fortunately, his imagination for possibilities was equally large. As a result, he came to B.B. King with a suggestion that would change everything. . .

from Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B.B. King

B.B. King autobiography

I was sixty-three when my career hit its hottest stride. . . .

Sid was also looking for greater exposure. That’s why he hooked me up with U2. I’d heard their Joshua Tree album and knew they were among the biggest rock groups in the world. I could relate to rock. I heard its blues roots and felt its connection to my music. I could see its popularity had grown like wildfire since Elvis started shaking his pelvis in the fifties. Opening for the Stones and Marshall Tucker had been important for my career. But it took Sid—and not me—to think of a way to introduce myself to still another young generation.
“It was a joy, just a joy, to share a stage with B.B. King. There was this great sense of camaraderie in his band. A rich, brassy sound they have behind them with the horn section.

And then there’s his grace. You know,
he’s a Lesson in Grace.”


“We’re going to Ireland,” said Sid, “and U2 is coming to the show. So why don’t you ask Bono, the guy who sings lead, to write a song for you?” Sounded like a good idea, but I wasn’t sure Bono would be interested. I also hate to impose myself on anyone else. When it comes to business, though, I make myself do certain things, even if they might go against my nature.
After my Dublin Concert, Bono and his boys showed up in the dressing room and we had a nice relaxed chat. They acted more like old friends than superstars. Before Bono left, I mentioned how I’d like him to write a song for me. All he said was “Okay, I will.” A year passed, maybe more, and I’d forgotten the whole thing when Sid said Bono had been looking for me. U2 was playing Fort Worth, Texas, and wanted my band to open the show. Sure thing.
“I love the song. Real heavy lyrics. You’re mighty young to write such heavy lyrics!”
—B.B. King to Bono,
who looked humbled and in awe
When I got there, Bono was all smiles. Said he’s written the song, but it was a duet for the two of us. I was flattered but frightened. Wasn’t the kind of material I was used to. But he was cool and patient and showed me how it went. More I heard it, more I was convinced our styles would blend. He called it “When Love Comes to Town.” The story surprised me; the lyrics weren’t what I’d expected. Didn’t think someone so young would write something so deep. In a rock tune, he’d written about the Crucifixion of Jesus. The song was solid and the rhythm was right, and that night, after my show and after his, Bono called me back out in front of forty thousand screaming U2 fans and we sang “When Love Comes to Town” as the crowd stood and cheered. It was a great moment.
I was there
     when they crucified my Lord.
I held the scabbard
     when the soldier drew his sword.
I threw the dice
     when they pierced His side.
But I’ve seen love conquer
     the great divide.

—”When Love Comes to Town”

It was also great going out with U2. We taped a video that got heavy airplay and won an MTV Video Award. “When Love Comes to Town” was the hottest single off the album. Produced by Jimmy Iovine, we basically used the live version with some adjustments made in the studio. After the song came out on their album Rattle and Hum and hit big, U2 carried us around the world for over three months. We hit Europe and Japan and came back home, playing huge football stadiums and giant arenas to sold-out crowds. Bono treated us with absolute respect. He never made us feel like an opening act. I was given a hotel suite as big as his in every city I played. And in every concert, I felt a new energy coming from audiences who brought with them a fresh appreciation of the blues.
I’ll never know how many new fans I made on that tour. But I believe my music was heard by still another new generation of young people who seemed to feel the same thing I’d felt when I first heard the blues sung by my Uncle Jack hollering in the cotton fields outside Indianola—raw emotion.

“I gave it my absolute everything I had in that HOWL, at the start of the song.
And then B.B. King opened up his mouth, and I felt like a girl.”
—Bono, on the opening 10 seconds of the video below

B.B. King and U2 in Sun Studio

Rare Photo of B.B. King and U2 in the legendary Sun Studios, Memphis,
recording “When Love Comes to Town”




Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 13 September 2017

Judyth & Lee


I was recently very pleased and honored to be invited to speak at the national JFK Assassination Conference, to be held in Dallas, November 17-19.

JFK Assassination Conference logo
It was particularly meaningful for me that the invitation came personally from Judyth Vary Baker, who became a good friend and research-colleague of mine a couple of decades ago. Unlike people like me (who have been drawn into the mystery of the JFK assassination through our own curiosity and sense of “an unsolved mystery” and “justice denied”), Judyth has a far more personal and intimate set of reasons for her involvement — as told in her book Me & Lee. In the book, she relates how she and Lee Oswald met by accident, discovered many mutual interests, were thrown together into a world of shadowy figures, and (as their time together in New Orleans progressed) found that they were being drawn closer and closer to each other.

Hers is a fascinating and detailed narrative, covered in 600 pages of reminiscence and historical markers, and supported by an enormous amount of documents, press clippings, photos, maps, and independent corroboration. The time covered in Me & Lee is, of course, vital to anyone hoping to gain deeper insight into the man Lee Oswald — it was the summer of 1963, when Oswald was living in New Orleans, just weeks prior to the assassination of President Kennedy. Growing out of their unique relationship has come Judyth’s equally unique perspective on Lee Oswald’s life and his place in history.

Lee and Judyth

Lee & Judyth

As might be imagined, such a story has become a lightning rod for deep, sometimes hateful and threatening, controversy. People whom I respect have widely divergent opinions about the book’s veracity, but there is one thing I have found almost universally true: Those who have taken the time to get to know Judyth, talk with her, hear her out with an intellectual dispassion, test her story with even-handed questions, and are willing to hear and consider her answers — these are the ones who have, by and large, come to believe Me & Lee to be a true accounting of her experiences. The book is a highly important addition to the overall study of Lee Oswald in particular and the assassination in general.

Someone who did take the time to delve deeply into Judyth’s story was journalist, researcher, and author Jim Marrs, who unfortunately passed away very recently. Jim was one of those who at first viewed Judyth’s claims with great skepticism. But he made a point to search her out, get to know her, and interview her over time; and that experience turned his thinking around 180 degrees.

Calling Judyth’s story a “well-supported account,” he commended it as “a vibrant and emotional personal narrative from the standpoint of one who obviously cares greatly for the story she is telling.” But wait — can’t one be emotional about and care deeply for a purposeful fabrication, as some think Judyth’s story is? Of course, but Jim was far from alone in his trust of Judyth’s story. In addition to his research findings, he wrote of his own personal knowledge that Mary Ferrell, “that Grande Dame of assassination researchers,” maintained until her death “a continuing confidence in the basic truth of Judyth’s story.” As part of a 6-page analysis of Judyth and her book, he went on to say the following:

        “In 2001, when I heard that a woman had emerged from the shadows, 38 years after the assassination, claiming to have been in close personal contact with Lee Harvey Oswald on a day-to-day basis during the summer of 1963 and that her name had never once appeared in any document or any report, I was skeptical, to say the least. My first question was: If what she says is true, how is she still alive? . . .
        “Could it be true? I pondered. . . . As I considered her story, I knew that either this woman was telling the truth or she needed to be in Hollywood writing screenplays, because her ability to concoct an absorbing story out of thin air was truly amazing. . . .
        “Having interviewed Judyth on several occasions and carefully studied her documentation and other materials, I can say that I have found her to be both internally consistent and forthright in her statements regarding her knowledge of events in New Orleans. Furthermore, her account has been largely confirmed from several separate sources. . . .
        “For once, I agree with one of [Judyth’s] constant critics, who wrote, ‘If Judyth Vary Baker is telling the truth, it will change the way we think about the Kennedy assassination.’ For those who know the facts behind her story, I think it already has.”

If, after reading all the way to this point in the article, you are no doubt beginning to suspect that I am urging you to read Me & Lee . . . well, congratulate yourself on how perceptive you are! (You can click on the book cover image above to get more information.) I’ll be very interested to hear your reactions to Judyth’s story.

Here is the announcement Judyth sent out after I replied in the affirmative to speak at the Conference:

Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr.        We are pleased to announce that GROVER PROCTOR, who discovered “The Raleigh Call: Lee Oswald’s Emergency Call to the CIA” will be speaking at the 5th Annual JFK Assassination Conference to be held Nov. 17-18-19 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dallas. Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. is a historian and former university Dean who is widely acknowledged as an expert on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He has published numerous articles, lectured extensively, and has frequently been consulted by print and broadcast media.
        While most of his work comprises analysis and interpretation of the assassination research phenomenon, he broke new ground in the investigation in the early 1980’s with his work on Lee Harvey Oswald’s [cut-off] telephone call from the Dallas jail to a former military counterintelligence agent in Raleigh, N.C.
        In November 2011, Dr. Proctor donated his entire JFK Assassination library to Baylor University’s Poage Library, as part of its JFK Assassination research center and archives. Later, in April 2014, he completed his gift to Baylor by donating all of his documents, papers, and files. His library and materials join collections of books, papers, and reference materials from Penn Jones Jr., Marguerite Oswald, Gary Shaw, Paul Hoch, Jack White, Ed Haslam, and many others.
        “Dr. Proctor has never swerved from honest research. He was one of the earliest respected researchers to treat me decently, to hear me out. His research standards are impeccable. You will learn much more than just about Lee’s phone call — made while under arrest only hours before he was shot dead — an attempt to reach his CIA case officer which was stymied when Lee’s call was deliberately yanked offline — and Lee was told the call ‘did not go through.'” -Judyth Vary Baker

Editorial Note from me: One correction of a factual nature in the above. While it often feels to me that I’ve been working on The Raleigh Call all my life, I did not in fact “discover” it. To the best of my knowledge, the call was first introduced in Canfield and Weberman’s book Coup d’Etat in America and shortly thereafter in Tony Summers’ Conspiracy.
        It was in reading an advance copy of Tony’s book that I “discovered” the call for myself, whereupon I immediately called Bernie Reeves, my publisher at Spectator Magazine in Raleigh, and we agreed that I would pursue researching the story as far as it would go.
        After Spectator published my first two articles about the call in 1980, I have continued over the intervening 37 years to pull as many new threads into the story as I can find, to try to gain a full understanding of what happened. I look forward to sharing the latest “bits and pieces” with the Conference attendees in Dallas!

Some of the other researchers and authors who will be speaking at the Dallas Conference this year include Judyth Vary Baker herself, my friend Randolph Benson (who will be screening his highly engaging documentary film The Searchers), Dr. Jim Fetzer, Robert Groden, St.John Hunt (son of the late E. Howard Hunt), Beverly Oliver (the “Babushka lady”), and Dr. Cyril Wecht. And this is only a small sample.

My sincere thanks again to Judyth for the invitation to speak. I am very much looking forward to joining the information-sharing at this great event in Dallas.

The Raleigh Call LD phone slip




Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 17 August 2017

The Latest Big Lie: ‘Elvis Was a Racist’

The Elvis Stamp

Elvis, a racist ?!

That assessment seems to be emerging more and more strongly these days. The reasoning usually goes something like this: every white male born in the South is a racist — so, by logical deduction, Elvis must have been, you know, a racist. Mary J. Blige once confessed she felt the need to pray (never a bad thing, of course) before singing one of Elvis’ hit songs “because I know Elvis was a racist.”

Elvis and Jackie Wilson

Elvis and Jackie Wilson
“Jackie, you got yourself a friend forever.”

But… how do we KNOW this? Here’s my suggestion. Poll all of the Black R&B artists of the 1950’s who knew Elvis and who are still with us today — and ask them how they feel about that.

Based on extensive research I did some years ago for a lecture series I gave on The Early History of Rock ’n’ Roll, I will bet a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts that they would tell you they were thankful that Elvis shone a spotlight on them, their music, and the genius of R&B as a whole. They never saw him as committing “cultural appropriation” by recording their songs. Why? Because Elvis proved a truly gracious and humble mentee of these men and women, and he always gratefully admitted how much in their debt he was. According to the late, great singer Jackie Wilson (whom Elvis highly admired, and with whom he became great friends), “A lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the black man’s music, when in fact, almost every black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis!” A 2007 New York Times article thoroughly documented the fact that Elvis became a welcomed adjunct member of the African-American music community.

Elvis and B.B. King

Elvis and B.B. King
Elvis was quoted in the press as saying to B.B.,
“Thanks, man, for all the early lessons you gave me.”
King said of Elvis, “All I can say is ‘that’s my man!'”

And as for the question of Elvis being a racist, why don’t we just go straight to the top — the King himself, B.B. King. (Start by reading the caption under the photo of Elvis and King.) During a 2010 interview, “The King of the Blues” was asked specifically about any racism he observed in “The King of Rock and Roll.” (Both men were self-effacing enough to deny those titles.) The San Antonio Examiner later reported King’s unequivocal answer:

“Let me tell you the definitive truth about Elvis Presley and racism,” B.B. King said in 2010. “With Elvis, there was not a single drop of racism in that man. And when I say that, believe me I should know.” King remembers when he first met the young Presley [in Memphis’ legendary Sun Studios]. It was obvious to King how respectful and comfortable Elvis was around bluesmen. In his 1996 autobiography, King said Presley “was different. He was friendly. I remember Elvis distinctly because he was handsome, quiet and polite to a fault. Spoke with this thick molasses southern accent, and always called me ‘sir’. I liked that.”

(Links to both the New York Times and San Antonio Examiner articles are given below. I strongly believe they tell a truthful story you should read.)

Did Elvis sing “Hound Dog” like Big Mama Thornton? or “Shake, Rattle and Roll” like Big Joe Turner? or “That’s All Right” like Arthur Crudup? No, of course not. Rather than imitate (steal) these artists’ styles, he put his own “Go cat, Go!” rockabilly swing to them. But the echoes of the original artists, whom he revered, were always there.

Here are a couple of pairings of the songs Elvis adored, and his tribute to them.

HOUND DOG by Big Mama Thornton (live)


HOUND DOG by Elvis Presley (live)


SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL by Big Joe Turner (studio)


SHAKE, RATTLE AND ROLL by Elvis Presley (studio)


(Note: The Elvis version of “Shake, Rattle and Roll” was an unreleased track from the studio, which uses all of Joe Turner’s lyrics. The version that was ultimately released, and became a huge hit, omitted the verse “You wear those dresses, the sun comes shining through…” Was RCA censoring Big Joe Turner?)


Was Elvis a Racist? Here are the Reports; You Decide
The New York Times article to which I referred above is called “How Did Elvis Get Turned Into a Racist?” written by Peter Guralnick.
The San Antonio Examiner article from which I quoted above is called The Definitive Truth About Elvis Presley and Racism According to B.B. King written by Jack Dennis.
I strongly recommend you read both of these articles — especially if you are among those who think it necessary to hate Elvis because of the color of his skin.

(Big thanks to my friend Godfrey Cheshire for alerting me to the first of these articles, and for therefore giving me impetus to search out the second one.)




Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 3 August 2017

A Great and Humble Man

Today would have been the 70th birthday of my first cousin Michael B. Hooks. He is shown in the picture at the bottom, taken some time in the 1970’s, with his wonderful, lovely bride Judy Yates Hooks.

Mike was the heart and soul of us 7 Hooks cousins — with a 1.21 gigawatt smile, a heart bigger than the continental U.S., a rollicking sense of humor almost as large, and love that continuously radiated from his spirit to everyone around him.

Mike Hooks

Mike Hooks

If you were ever fortunate enough to be in the same room with him, Mike would invariably make you feel uniquely special, valuable, warm, and very important to him. You’d leave feeling like you’d known him all your life, or at least wishing that you had. (Lucky me; I did.)

He saw himself (in descending order of what was important to him) a child of God, a son/husband/father/family man, a patriotic lover of country (back when people still understood that this was a good and honorable thing), and a highly successful entrepreneur.

He felt lucky to be alive, and his life was dedicated to giving back in every way he knew.

He was truly a consummate and devoted family man. Tears try to force their way out every time I think about how Mike would have loved and doted on the fact that his two beautiful, talented daughters gave him and Judy ten grandchildren! I would have paid an admission fee just to have been able to watch him and those ten “grands” create massive joy together.

Mike was a veteran of the Vietnam War, and was afterwards a devoted leader of veterans’ causes, in particular by privately aiding individual veterans in need. Ten days after Mike’s heart-breaking early death at age 48, famed columnist and F.O.M. (Friend of Mike) Dennis Rogers published a column in Raleigh’s News and Observer, titled “A Life that Meant Something” — devoted to telling people the inside story of Mike’s private heroism. You should read it, and understand that a great and humble man walked among us.

We love you and miss you mightily, Mike!

Mike and Judy Hooks




Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 27 July 2017

Rhiannon Rides the Freedom Highway

Rhiannon GiddensIn less than two weeks (that would be August 9), extraordinary singer, string performer, composer, and musicologist Rhiannon Giddens will be performing at Raleigh’s Bryan Outdoor Theater at the North Carolina Museum of Art. The concert, part of her Freedom Highway Tour to promote her 2017 CD, will start at 8:00 pm, with doors opening at 6:30.

If you don’t have your tickets yet, for goodness sakes get on the ball! You’ll no doubt miss an extraordinary concert if you aren’t there.

Ms. Giddens is a Tar Heel — a native of Greensboro (“my identity is as a North Carolinian!”) — and an opera graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory. But as you can see in the concert and studio videos below, she has cast a much wider musical net. She can be heard moving seamlessly among ethnic music (“traditional” American, African-American, Native American, Celtic, Asian), as well as gospel, jazz, blues, and country.

Giddens was a co-founder of the critically acclaimed, Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, a trio with an avowed mission “to lay claim to the African-American piece of the history of traditional American music.” Graduating into her solo career, she continues that mission, as can be heard most poignantly in the song she wrote called “Julie” (below), an imagined conversation between a female slave and her mistress as Yankee soldiers are approaching. It’ll send chills down your spine, and pierce your heart simultaneously.

I have put six of her video performances (18 minutes total) below, and I urge you to treat yourself. In the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th videos, Giddens plays an authentic 19th-century style, fretless banjo. It is just one of the many stringed instruments of which her playing is outstanding.

But it is perhaps her voice which most attracts her adoring fans. “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Julie” will bring a lump to your throat. And you won’t be able to deny a huge smile when she whoops flawlessly in “Ruby” and the traditional “Boatman Dance.” (She even makes the jaded Bill Murray shake his head in awe.) Several aspects of her near-flawless vocal control, not to mention the sheer beauty of her voice, will wow you in “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Nothin’ Else to Do.” And finally, how in the world does she (seemingly) take so few breaths in “Pretty Little Girl With the Red Dress On.” (I dare you to try and keep a dour face while listening to that one!)

Add it all up: Consummate musicianship, virtuosic chops on several instruments, a totally arresting voice, a great backing band, and songs running the emotional gamut that will send chills and bring tears and smiles. Enjoy! See you August 9!!

RUBY   (3:57)








JULIE  (3:47)





Freedom Highway

Rhiannon Giddens

Freedom Highway

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
8:00 PM
Doors Open at 6:30 PM

Joseph M. Bryan, Jr. Theater
North Carolina Museum of Art
For ticket information,





Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 27 July 2017

Rameses Agonistes

Anyone who has known me for more than 15 minutes knows how much of a “bleed-Carolina-blue” Tar Heel fan I have always been. I expect always to be.

Rameses Agonistes

Rameses Agonistes
(Rameses in inner turmoil)

That having been said, I have been from the beginning one of the most vocal critics of my beloved alma mater over (a) their scandalous academic behavior and (b) their scandalous deny-deny-deny, sweep-scandal-under-the-rug behavior. I find it rotten to the core.

A cousin of mine drew my attention today to a CBS article by renowned sports commentator John Feinstein. Sadly, I find a huge amount in it with which I agree. (Click to read his entire article.)

As much as I understand and sympathize with his broader message, I should point out that I saw immediately that he got at least a couple of little things wrong:

First, the dates of the upcoming NCAA hearing are August 16-17, not Aug. 14 as he says.

Second — and this is far more important — it was not something called the “North Carolina Accrediting Agency for academic institutions” which put UNC on accreditation probation, as asserted in the article. No such agency exists. Carolina was put on a year’s accreditation probation (“usually, but not necessarily, the last step before an institution is removed from” accreditation) by SACS, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. It is from SACS (and SACS alone) that Carolina receives “national” accreditation that covers the entire institution. Without it, no Federal financial aid would be possible for any student attending. Let that sink in!

Back to Feinstein: it’s catching these two “little” but important mistakes which makes me wonder what else he may have gotten wrong.

What he definitely got right is how Carolina got itself into this mess in the first place. If you’ve been living on Mars, or otherwise distracted, the last 2 decades, here’s his summary:

         The basic premise of the investigation is this: During a period that might have been as long as 18 years (!!) dating from 1993, numerous Carolina athletes were involved in sham classes in the African and Afro-American studies department.
         In all, according to reporting done by the Raleigh
News & Observer and an independent report sanctioned by UNC, about 3,100 students participated in the sham classes. Roughly half were scholarship athletes and many – most – were either football or basketball players.
         The classes, according to the reports, never met and the work required was absolutely minimal – if there was any work done at all.


All that said, I feel torn down to my Carolina-blue-blood between, on the one hand, my intense anger at UNC’s egregious academic sins coupled with my sense of justice which demands punishment for those sins — and, on the other hand, my love for and admiration of the Carolina student-athletes who will likely suffer a great deal of the blowback from whatever judicial sanction bomb the NCAA explodes in Chapel Hill. It was not the athletes’ fault that the school offered those fake classes, nor that their athletic staff pushed them to take them.

Feinstein closes by saying, “The only question is whether academic fraud took place. The athletic director says it did. Which is why Carolina’s punishment must be harsh for the NCAA to retain what little credibility it has left.

I wonder what will happen.




Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 23 July 2017

If Vivent Comes Knocking, Caveat Emptor


Caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, has been part of the English language since 1523, when it was used in connection with the sale of a horse, which might have been ridden upon and be tame or might be wild. If wild, it was not the merchant who had to beware, but caveat emptor, beware thou buyer.”

— District Judge Michael Joseph Reagan (S.D. Illinois)
Spivey v. Adaptive Marketing, 23 September 2009

What follows is a recent true example of how important this legal dictum and common sense truth remains. Read on and Beware.

Upfront, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me say that this article is based solely on the experience my wife and I had with the door-to-door salesperson who represented himself as working for Vivint Smart Home. It turned out to be a most unsatisfactory experience (for us and for him, as well, I’m sure), and I feel very good about the fact that we did not become Vivint customers that day — regardless of how good Vivint’s products may or may not be.

In his favor, let me say the door-to-door salesman was very well trained by whatever marketing company he works for (see below). He is clearly well versed in the sales approach that they want him to use, one that has no doubt proved to work well in this kind of suburban setting. He had the “company line” down pat for every question, objection, skepticism, or comment we had.

Unfortunately, what they have trained him to do is to vaguely promise the moon and half the stars up front to get us homeowners interested. But as the details begin to emerge, we’re left being offered only a couple of acres of scrubland in Utah. (Pardon my metaphor.) It’s a common ploy, and I’ve been exposed to it in various forms throughout the years. (Since then, I have wondered if he realized that I was sitting there, predicting his next ploy, point by point, as he was attempting to play on our egos, our supposed vulnerabilities, and our greed.)

Vivint logoThe major “hook” they use is to make you think you are getting an insider’s deal (that will not be made available to anyone else, you are assured). They merely need to “pre-qualify” you to see if you are “verbal” enough and “social media savvy” enough to promote their products for them in the neighborhood and online. “If people see our sign in your yard,” he glibly began, “and come and ask you about it, it would be worth it to us to give you this equipment so that you would tell them how much you like it. Do you have iPhones? Do you ever go online, like Facebook? Do you blog? Do you know your neighbors well?

You’re supposed to think, “Well, heck yeah! You give me all this equipment free (or even at a substantial discount) and I’ll tell the world! That’s easy!!” In other words, you’re supposed to think they are willing to give you something for basically nothing. Well, clearly, they have zero interest in that.

Finally, excruciating detail after repeated excruciating detail, “pre-qualifying” gimmick after “pre-qualifying” gimmick, he finally gets to the money. And, as it turns out, nothing’s free. They are trained to use a “step down” discount method when dealing with costs. It begins this way: “How much do you think you would pay if you bought this directly from Vivint’s website? What if you went to Home Depot and bought it, what do you think they’d charge you? Either way, you’ll have to pay installation and activation fees.” He then writes down numbers for all the extraneous charges, PLUS the ridiculous retail amount for the equipment (expect it to be at or over $2000 for equipment alone). Then the whittling down starts.

If you’re willing to agree today, I’ll knock this charge off. I’ll reduce that fee. You won’t even have to pay the full amount for installation; we’ll cut that down to almost half. And we’ll even take the $99 standard monthly fee, slice it in half to $49 a month just for you.” He conveniently forgot to point out that Vivint’s own literature says the monthly fee starts at only $39.

And what about all that equipment he said at the beginning he wants to “give” us?

Vivint offer

Well, surprise! There was absolutely no equipment free or discounted in what this young man wanted to sell us! His “deal” required that we pay the entire roughly $2000 total manufacturer’s list price for all the equipment in the package!

Oh, but because he really wanted to put this equipment in our house — you know, so that our neighbors will also want to buy it — he was willing to spread the payments out (no discount, but interest free) over 60 months. Because we would only be paying one-sixtieth of the equipment’s total list price each month (in addition to the “forever,” supposedly discounted monthly fee), I’m sure he counted on our forgetting about all those things he, at first, hinted about “giving” us.

He skated a razor’s breadth from the line of untruths, but (to the credit of those who trained him) I never actually caught him lying. (I can’t say the same about the pair of young AT&T salesladies who once told me, I discovered later, whopper after whopper in an effort to get me to sign on the dotted line.)

At this point, I began my boatload of questions to our Vivint marketer. First, do you personally work directly for Vivint? “Well, of course! See my shirt?” No, that’s not good enough. Most of the door-to-door people that have come by here say they’re working for the main company, but are instead working for a Marketing firm hired to put hoards of people out on the streets to knock on doors. So he said, “See, I’ll show you. When I finish getting all the information I need from you, I call this number.” He made a great show of dialing 801-437-4037, from which a man answered saying, “Account Creation. What is your badge number?” — at which point our salesman hung up. I guess he thought I looked gullible enough to believe that this little charade actually proved something.

I have not yet been able to discover whether that phone number does or does not belong to Vivint. I did find one website that said the phone number belonged to “Gary Jackson, N 920 West St., Provo, Utah” — which appears to be a cul-de-sac of 7 small homes near Carterville Park and University Boulevard — but I don’t know if I believe that page either. (By the way, the salesman kept repeatedly saying that the home office of Vivint is in “Utah, Provo”   seemingly unaware that there is no such place, and as if believing that this fact would infuse some additional credibility to the company and his sales pitch.)

Vivint panelAnd I never got a straight answer from him giving me proof that he actually was an employee of Vivint.

By this time in our conversation, I had been on my tablet and found a Yelp review page for Vivint — on which 93% of reviewers gave Vivint the lowest rating possible; ouch!! — and similar customer screeds from several other sites. This confirmed for me what I had been feeling all along — that I didn’t want to do business with this salesman or this company.

I told him I would not sign a contract to pay for equipment over a period of 5 years after only hearing a high-pressure 30-minute sales pitch. He said, “I tell you what. I’ll give you 3 business days to decide if you like it. No, I’ll even stretch that to 2 weeks! If you were over 70 years old, I could give you a whole month, but I can’t put anything false in my order. Anyway, if you decide you don’t want it during that 2 weeks, you call us and we’ll come out and get all our equipment and refund all the money you’ve paid us to that point.

My final attempt to make sure we were understanding him correctly was this: So let me get this straight. Vivint has forbidden you to let me take a few days (1) to read your contract in detail, (2) to research your company and this offer, and (3) to compare it to your competitors — before I sign on the dotted line to pay for the equipment over a period of 5 years, as well as the $49 monthly fee? “No. You have to do it today. You can always decide in that 2 weeks that you don’t want it.” (…repeating sales pitch over and over, as if hearing it the 21st time be the magical tipping point.)

Clearly we were talking in circles around each other. We told him that, even if we loved the product and the deal (which, by this time, we didn’t), we would never be willing to sign or commit to anything this quickly. Further, we said that we understood him to be saying that the deal was not possible unless it happened today. “Well, what if I call my manager and get the FULL installation fee waived?

Seeing that he was clearly not going to convert this investment of his time into a profitable sale, his demeanor quickly changed into a simmering, sulky hostility.

My final words to him: No, sir. Have a good day.

Be very careful, folks, about deals that seem too good to be true, if only you’ll sign on the dotted line TODAY. You’re almost certain to regret it.

No Soliciting




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