Samuel L. Jackson fact-checks his presence in a Martin Luther King Jr. photo: 'That's not me'

Samuel L. Jackson has been one of Hollywood's go-to scene-stealers for decades. But the Pulp Fiction star isn't about to take credit for the cameos he didn't make. On Jan. 23, Black activist Zellie Imani posted an archival photo on Twitter that purportedly showed a younger Jackson — who was then a student at Morehouse College — observing Martin Luther King Jr. in a Georgia pool hall in 1966.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shooting pool in 1966. Samuel L. Jackson, who was a freshman at Morehouse College at the time, is in this photo. pic.twitter.com/R3YUVxWv7k

— zellie (@zellieimani) January 23, 2022

Hours later, the actor entered the chat to correct the historical record. "Okay, I met Dr. King but not at a pool hall," Jackson wrote. "That's not me!!" 

Okay, I met Dr King, but not at a pool hall. That’s NOT me!!

— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) January 23, 2022

While it's never easy to be fact-checked in real time — and by an Oscar-nominated celebrity no less — Imani was gracious in acknowledging his error and grateful to Jackson for the correction. "LOL, whoops," he wrote in reply to the actor. "Glad he was able to chime in and correct me," Imani told another writer who chuckled at the exchange. 

Lol! Whoops! 😂

— zellie (@zellieimani) January 23, 2022

Glad he was able to chime in and correct me!

— zellie (@zellieimani) January 23, 2022

While Jackson may not be featured in that particular pool hall photo, he was in attendance for King's funeral in Atlanta two years later. Writing in The Hollywood Reporter in 2018, the actor recalled serving as an usher during the April 9, 1968 procession, held at Spelman College. 

"They needed volunteers to help people find their way around campus, and I became an usher," Jackson wrote. "I remember Mahalia Jackson singing. I’d been listening to her all my life, so it was great to hear her sing 'Precious Lord, Take My Hand' live. I remember seeing people like Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier. People that I thought I’d never see, let alone have a relationship with later on in life. The funeral was pretty much a blur." 

But the experience also brought Jackson's future into sharper focus, launching him on a path that led to political activism and, eventually, an acting career. After getting involved with anti-war groups at the height of the Vietnam War, a close brush with the FBI led him to make the trip to Hollywood … and he never left. 

"We were buying guns, which kind of put me on the radar of the powers that be," Jackson wrote of his dramatic departure for the West Coast. "We were fully expecting a revolution to happen. That summer of ’69, somebody from the FBI came to my mom’s house in Tennessee and told her she needed to get me out of Atlanta before I got killed. She showed up and said she was going to take me to lunch. I got in the car and she drove me to the airport and said, 'Get on this plane, do not get off. I’ll talk to you when you get to your aunt’s in L.A.'" 

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