If all goes well, videotape of Ray in the jail in 1968 following the assassination of Martin Luther King could be restored within months. The tapes were discovered this year by Register Tom Leatherwood and the staff at the Shelby County Archives. They have not been handled for fear of damaging them. Bids have gone out to restore the tapes and should be back next week.
"It's an obsolete format, that's the problem. Plus, it's more than 40 years old," said Leatherwood. "We're fast tracking this."
After he was captured in London, Ray was flown to Memphis in July of 1968. Former county mayor Bill Morris, who was sheriff at that time, went aboard the plane when it landed in Millington and read Ray his rights. Morris said that is on tape, as are historic scenes of Ray being taken into the jail and being interviewed. Gilless, who was a deputy at the time and later was elected sheriff, was the photographer and videographer.
"It's going to be fun to watch," said Morris.