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The Republican Party suggest that Dr. King was one of them. So why does historical evidence contradict them?

This editorial was originally published in Question It! Magazine, the ezine for The Why? Movement, as nascent non-profit educational organization.

Groups such as the National Black Republican Association and Raging Elephants seem to want people to believe (as they seem to) that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. So, apparently, would Dr. King’s Republican activist niece, Alveda King, and Ada Fisher, a North Carolinian Republican National Committeewoman. The latter has gone so far as to lament that “Most people don’t talk about the fact that Martin Luther King was a Republican.”

Ms. Fisher's confident assertion of "factuality" inspires several questions:

● If Dr. King was a Republican, why did he assert, in 1964, that he wasn’t “inextricably bound” to the Republican party?

● If Dr. King was a Republican, why did cite his desire to not "sacrifice [his] soul" as a reason for turning the Republican Party down when it offered him a significant amount of money to rally black voters in advance of the 1956 election?

● If Dr. King was a Republican, why, in a 1958 letter, did he assure Representative Adam Clayton Powell (who was seeking re-election as a Democrat) that he had his "wholehearted support"?

●  If Dr. King was a Republican, why did he say the below about that year’s Republican Convention?

“The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and extremism. All people of goodwill viewed with alarm and concern the frenzied wedding at the Cow Palace of the KKK with the radical right. The “best man” at this ceremony was a senator whose voting record, philosophy, and program were anathema to all the hard-won achievements of the past decade. It was both unfortunate and disastrous that the Republican Party nominated Barry Goldwater as its candidate for President of the United States…I had no alternative but to urge every Negro and white person of goodwill to vote against Mr. Goldwater and to withdraw support from any Republican candidate that did not publicly disassociate himself from Senator Goldwater and his philosophy.”
● If Dr. King was a Republican, why did react (in what seems to be an unfavorable way) to Dixiecrats’ and Republicans’ continual efforts to defeat civil rights legislation by asserting that "This coalition of southern Dixiecrats and right wing reactionary northern Republicans defeats every bill and every move towards liberal legislation in the area of civil rights”?

Why should one believe, even, that Dr. King was a conservative when he asserted the below?

“There is a dire need today for liberalism which is truly liberal. What we are witnessing today is a sort of quasi-liberalism which is based on the principle of looking sympathetically at all sides. It is a liberalism so bent on seeing all sides that it fails to become committed to either side. It is a liberalism which is neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. We call for a liberalism which will be thoroughly committed to the ideal of racial justice and will not be deterred by the propaganda and subtle words of those who say: “Slow up for a while; you’re pushing too fast.”
Given the historical evidence which strongly suggests otherwise, is there really any reasonable basis for believing Republicans' and Conservatives' claim that Dr. King was "one of them"?
Poll

Should we believe Republican's assertions that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican?

21%8 votes
78%29 votes

| 37 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  More importantly: (9+ / 0-)

    Even if he at any time considered himself a Republican, he was murdered in 1968, the year of the "Southern Strategy" when the GOP realigned  in such a manner that little to no alignment with Dr. King's beliefs remained. And it's only gone further into crazytown since then.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 08:06:05 AM PDT

  •  The Why Movement - three diaries on day one (5+ / 0-)

    and no response to any questions or comments by participants. If this keeps up you will gain a reputation as a HIT AND RUN diary author. Those are people or organizations that just drop off material they have written for another purpose and never engage our community. I would suggest that you do two things, space your diaries and engage the community. One of the responsibilities of diary authors here is to nurture each diary when it is published and engage the people who ask questions and make comments. That's how you build a following at DKOS, along with commenting in the diaries of others.

    "let's talk about that" uid 92953

    by VClib on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 08:14:23 AM PDT

  •  Being from the South, MLK was a relunctant (5+ / 0-)

    liberal Republican, but those are totally extinct now.  He respected Eisenhower for enforcing the law in Arkansas, and was hoping either party would push the civil rights agenda.  My guess is that he didn't vote for Barry Goldwater.

    •  I recall hearing a statistic once... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RightLeaningMod

      ...which I haven't got time to look up at the moment, to the effect that the African American vote in Atlanta in 1960 (which of course was quite small since most of them were effectively barred from voting) went to Nixon by a healthy margin. I wouldn't be surprised if King were among that majority. Four years later, of course, Barry Goldwater threw the black vote overhwelmingly to the Dems, where it's been ever since.

      Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

      by RamblinDave on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 11:31:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Seems unlikely that Jr. was a Republican (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AnnieR, a2nite

    but I heard somewhere that Sr. sometimes voted Republican, and permanently changed his party affiliation in 1960 when Bobby Kennedy intervened to get Jr. out of jail.

    The Stars and Bars and the red swastika banner are both offerings to the same barbaric god.

    by amyzex on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:02:47 AM PDT

  •  Rs are big liars today. I don't believe much of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pixie5

    anything they say.

    I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

    by a2nite on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:25:16 AM PDT

    •  I wonder... (0+ / 0-)

      ...if this is just a natural extension of their beloved claim that the Republicans are the ones who really deserve credit for the Civil Rights Act. That lie having perhaps finally run its course, with too many people knowing how absurd it is, they've had to move on to something else. This would be a natural next step.

      Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

      by RamblinDave on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 11:33:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Even the right's favorite member of the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pixie5

    King Family, Alveda, now says he wasn't, but rather unaffiliated with any party

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:29:52 AM PDT

    •  I would have thought he wasn't aligned (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peregrine kate

      with any political party -- he was, among other things, a masterful politician and coalition builder.  There is no way he would have come out in favor of one party over another, especially then when both parties still had liberal members in those days.  He would take all the support he could muster.

      The one thing we do know is that he would not have aligned himself with conservatives (who fought against civil rights), so he most definitely would not have been a Republican today, since they've purged the liberals and moderates.

  •  This would be typical of Repubs today (0+ / 0-)

    To claim this because they want to erase their sordid civil rights history. The South turned Red because the Dems took up the civil rights movement.

    Hell a lot of these Repubs won't even acknowledge the Biblical basis of the slavery movement in America and how Bible-thumping Christian fundamentalists owned slaves. It must have been those non-existent heathens that were responsible.

    I take the phrase "Bleeding Heart Liberal" as a compliment...

    by Pixie5 on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 09:59:15 AM PDT

  •  A couple points (0+ / 0-)

    First, it wouldn't be terribly surprising if the King family by heritage had carried the Republican label.  For many years in the South, the Republican Party was essentially the party of disenfranchised black people.  The Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Freedman's Bureau established an important political legacy. The banner of the Mississippi Democratic Party from the Civil War until about 1970, declared it to be the party of White Supremacy, nothing else.

    However, having spent much of the last 50 years hearing conservatives denounce King as a Communist, it's amusing to see the reversal of field and attempted reclamation of King as Republican.  Personally, I know nothing about any Republican connection King may have had.  I do know he was a frequent presence at the Highlander Folk School, organized and operated by, yes, Communists.  It was the only American political party consistent in its dedication to the support of civil rights and the struggles of black Americans.

    Pay no attention to the upward redistribution of wealth!

    by ActivistGuy on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 10:24:50 AM PDT

  •  Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    Is that in any way relevant to the parties' positions on civil rights today?

    Same question applies to MLK's views and the party positions of the 1960s.  A lot has changed since then.

  •  Sorry, but it's probably true. (0+ / 0-)

    In the South before 1964, the Democratic Party was the party of racism and "states' rights." The Republican Party was no bastion of what we in the North would call "liberalism," but it was generally less racist and extreme (and more pragmatic) than the Dixiecrats.

    So while I doubt King openly identified with either party, I would not be at all surprised to find that he voted Republican in state and local races. But of course we don't know -- secret ballot and all that.

    1964 was, of course, a watershed year when the GOP nominated someone who was at that time considered so extreme that many formerly loyal Republicans voted against him. (He wouldn't be extreme by today's standards, which says something.) So King saying he wouldn't be necessarily bound to vote Republican that year can mean that normally he would have voted GOP even for President.

    This is basically a stupid argument, since the party alignment has changed so dramatically. I like Abraham Lincoln, but I'm not going to vote Republican just because he was one.

  •  And Lincoln too, jeez, where do they get (0+ / 0-)

    off with these outrageous claims?

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 12:56:05 PM PDT

  •  Though I think some of your questions (0+ / 0-)

    you raise in the three diaries you posted today (so far) are interesting, they are not especially topical except in a general way. Even the one challenging the NRA isn't linked to a recent pronouncement, which given their propensity to comment (usually inappropriately) in the wake of a gun tragedy is somewhat surprising.

    That's one critique I'll make. The culture here is to comment specifically on breaking news of one sort or another. Meta-commentary, or a more general critique such as the ones you offer here, are a specialized subset and not always well-received.

    The second is that even corporate (that is, collective) memberships here at Daily Kos often have a particular individual associated with a given post. Over time, that helps establish the group's bona fides. Without it, the post appears to be close to spam, published here only in the hope of driving traffic to the source.

    The third was mentioned above, but I'll repeat it here. Diarists who post without then engaging in dialogue with those who respond in comments don't generally develop a good reputation, or get much traffic over time.

    Whoever is posting these diaries might benefit from perusing some of the many links provided below.

    Welcome to Daily Kos. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Community Guidelines, the Knowledge Base, and the Site Resource Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.
    ~~ from the DK Partners & Mentors Team.

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 08:33:29 PM PDT

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