MLK National Historic Site
is. Next time you find yourself in Atlanta, you should stop by.
I’ve been kind of busy lately, so I haven’t had a chance to weigh in on this whole “MLK was a Republican” or “ MLK’s family was Republican” thing,
but now that I’ve got a few minutes, I will.
Martin Luther King Jr. was no more “Republican,” at least as that term is used in present-day political parlance, than my neighbor’s basset hound, and it frankly pisses me off that some present-day Republicans continue that cynical bullshit, taking advantage, no less, of the anniversary of his death to do it.
Please stop it. It’s intellectually dishonest. Cripes, Americans are already historically illiterate as it is; let’s not add to the problem. Seriously, does anyone with half a brain—or even one molecule of a brain—really believe that Martin Luther King, Jr., if he were alive today, would be a Republican? Please. If there was any “Republican” sentiment in his family blood, it was there only because American blacks heavily favored the Republican Party—gee, can’t imagine why
—from the Civil War until the tide slowly began to turn with the Great Depression and then finally reverse for good from the 1960s onward.
In American political history, party labels mean different things depending upon what era you’re talking about. Andrew Jackson, for instance, was the first president to represent what we know today as the Democratic Party. He was also a slaveholder, he was responsible for the Trail of Tears
, and he appointed the eventual architect of the Dred Scott decision
to lead the Supreme Court. Does that even remotely sound like any present-day Democrat you know?
And how about Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president? Consider these facts: He opposed the prosecution of a war of choice in a foreign country (the Mexican-American War, for those of you keeping score at home), he supported the supremacy of federal power over state power in matters of racial policy, and he was the electoral winner of exactly two counties in the entire South in a presidential election. (Hell, he wasn’t even on the ballot in nine southern states.) Again, does that sound like any present-day Republican you know?
Let’s face it: Neither party was all that hospitable to blacks until they were finally granted the full raft of civil rights that gave the black community the power to become a political force to be reckoned with. Which means that neither party has the right to claim as one of their own the person who was arguably most responsible for the ultimate granting of those rights. It’s an insult to his memory. And, yes, frankly, that goes for the Democrats, too, though at they at least have a slightly more plausible argument. But only just slightly.
I took this picture yesterday in Atlanta, where, by sheer happenstance, I happened to be on the eve of the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. Interesting place, the