Toronto had a great music scene in the sixties however, we did not have a radio station dedicated to soul music which we loved. My father was a photographer and we had a darkroom in the basement of our house and I spent time in there with him listening to the groove of WUFO from Buffalo and all of the great music from south of the border while he would print photos. late night sounds from WUFO in Buffalo
In April 1968, I was in the darkroom with my dad when the news of Martin Luther King Jr’s murder was announced. We were in the dark together shocked by the news. WUFO repeatedly announced King’s assignation after every song that night. I was scared. I was afraid for my family, my uncles, my cousins and every other endangered man of colour.
It was later on that we knew that James Earl Ray, the accused killer had escaped to Toronto at one point. Later in the Fall of that year my father drove me past the building in downtown Toronto that James Earl Ray had been staying in when he was on the run. It turned out that he had been caught jay-walking and given an alias identity as well as fake address. Luckily for the police, Mr. Ray had used the name of a police officer and the address of a known bawdy house so he left a trail.
The world sadly changed with the loss of Martin Luther King and my child view of the USA was a place that was dangerous for me.
As an interesting note, Motown did not just record and promote pop music. In 1963, Mr. Gordy had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. record his “I Have a Dream” speech for Motown’s Gordy label. Zina Saunders SoulfulDetroit.com