Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
through the awful grace of God.
— Poem by Aeschylus, quoted by Robert Kennedy in his speech on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, April 4, 1968
A year ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lost a great deal of popular support as well as support from other civil rights leaders when he began preaching against the war in Vietnam. He saw it as part of a broader campaign for justice, along with civil rights, and he continued to push for a broader sense of the struggle with the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968. The incident in Saigon made the “mutant problem” the global topic du jour. Charles Xavier got in touch with Dr. King to see if the struggle for mutant rights might have a place in his broader vision of making the United States a more just and moral nation. He was intrigued, but wanted to see that Xavier could take an interest in struggles other than his own as well. Dr. King told Xavier that he was heading to Memphis to support the local sanitation workers in their strike, and invited Xavier and his students to join him. So, Xavier and the X-Men headed to Memphis.
On March 28, a rally turned violent, but the X-Men were on hand to keep it from spiraling out of control. Logan caught the police agent provocateur who started the violence, which later convinced the governor to refuse Mayor Loeb’s request to bring in the National Guard. However, mutants interfering with law enforcement did provide enough impetus for Anthony Stark and Sebastian Shaw to release the prototype of their new Sentinel technology to the Memphis Police. Shaw’s Sentinel technology can detect mutants, and combined with a weaker, civilian-issue version of Stark’s Iron Man armor, gives law enforcement officers the ability to identify and apprehend mutant criminals. Stark had lunch with Warren before the press conference to make sure he heard it from him personally. He said that he backed the project because it would ease tensions by making mutants answerable to the rule of law, rather than being a law unto themselves.
Meanwhile, Logan hit the streets, trying to find out if there were more powerful interests keeping the white union bosses from supporting the strike, or if it was just typical racism. He didn’t find anything like that, but he did find a half-crazed petty cook holed up in a cheap motel room with a sniper rifle, maps, and plans to assassinate Dr. King. Logan destroyed the rifle, beat him within an inch of his life to “discourage” his intended plan of action, and reported the news to Professor Xavier and Scott Summers. Xavier returned to the Institute to track down more information, leaving Scott in charge of the X-Men in Memphis.
While at a rally at the Mason Temple Logan was approached by Lucas Bishop, claiming that he had been sent back in time to stop the assassination of Dr. King. He warns that terrible riots sweep the nation in the wake of the assassination, and by fifty years out, the United States is a dystopia where 1 in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 35 are in prison, and 1 in 9 black men, where a black man is shot by police every 28 hours, and where even small, suburban police departments are outfitted with armored personnel carriers, automatic weapons, and other military equipment, which are routinely turned on protesters. He believes this future can be averted if the X-Men can stop the assassination of Dr. King the next day at 6:01 PM.
Logan and Jean Grey take to the streets, hoping to find James Earl Ray before the evening. They don’t find him, but they do find another half-crazed petty criminal in a cheap motel room, just like the one that Logan found earlier. Jean is able to pull images from his mind, and discovers that he’s had this compulsion planted in his mind by a telepath. She sees an image of her, and a name — “”/characters/emma-frost" class=“wiki-content-link”>Emma" — and a word — “Hellfire.” Logan and Jean return to the Lorraine Motel to warn Warren and Kurt of what they’ve found. There, Logan wonders if they might not have their telepath on site, in case things go badly. Jean scans the area, and finds one room where she detects nothing. Logan busts in, starting a fight with Emma Frost and some of her Hellions: James Proudstar, Haroum ibn Sallah al-Rashid, and Sharon Smith. The X-Men defeat the Hellions rather handily, and Emma finds Logan all but impervious to her telepathy, but she manages to stop their perception of time for a few minutes, long enough to escape.
Later that evening, James Earl Ray arrives, intent on his mission to assassinate Dr. King. Angel, flying high overhead, sees him and swoops down to subdue him. Dr. King thanks the X-Men, but tells them that this isn’t the first attempt on his life, and it likely won’t be the last. Bishop is starting to forget the future. Logan asks him if he should become an X-Man. Bishop tells him that the best things he can remember from the future are achieved by the X-Men, and a lot of them because they had Logan with them. That finally convinces Logan to join the team.