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3:12pm October 31, 2012

Was Martin Luther King a Republican?

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This seems to happen every election season. In an effort to attract the black vote, conservatives try to convince African American voters that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican.

Here’s the truth. Martin Luther King, Senior, known to the family as Daddy King, was a Republican. But, you must remember that he was born in 1899. Following the Reconstruction of the South following the Civil War, almost all blacks were Republican. After all, the GOP was the Party of Emancipation. Democrats were the opposite: Southern, Conservative, and for states’ rights.

Black partisanship largely resided with the GOP all the way into the Great Depression. However, thanks to the back-room leadership of Eleanor Roosevelt, the Democratic Party slowly started appealing to the urban black vote. Democrat Franklin Roosevelt did not appeal directly to blacks, per se, but African Americans recognized that if the New Deal succeeded they would benefit.

After World War II, Democrat Harry Truman desegregated the military and opened a path to middle-class prosperity via services in the Armed Forces.

Regarding civil rights, the most salient issue to Black America in the twentieth century, President Eisenhower engaged in the minimum, although even then, it was more than Ike wanted to do. In the school desegregation crisis at Little Rock’s Central High in 1957, Eisenhower sent the Army to enforce a federal court order, although as an advocate for states’ rights, he hated doing so. He later termed his appointment of Earl Warren as chief justice of the Supreme Court the biggest mistake of his presidency. Warren, of course, wrote the decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

At this point, Martin Luther King, Jr. focused on opening the eyes of politicians of both parties to the suffering Southern blacks faced from anti-democratic state legislatures and despotic demagogues across the South. MLK found the Kennedy administration too consumed by political calculations to be a trustworthy ally, even though King believed that JFK wanted to do the right thing.

What changed everything was LBK. President Johnson, a Democrat, signed both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law. While these two laws were not the immediate salvation that many hoped, President Johnson staked his 1964 re-election on expanding opportunity and basic notions of fairness to all Americans. LBJ did this knowing full well that the racist element of the Southern Democratic Party would stalk out of his party.

For his part, King did not endorse politicians of either party. For Republicans today to try to steer the black vote to the GOP is a cheap trick.

Unfortunately, Republicans like John Sununu think so little of blacks that they honestly believe that black voters cast their ballots solely based on race, and not ideas. It is this stereotyping by race that MLK fought.



About the Author

Marvin King
Marvin King
Marvin King received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of North Texas and his B.A. from the University of Texas. Now, he is an Associate Professor of Political Science with a joint appointment in the African American Studies Program at the University of Mississippi. He conducts research into how political institutions affect African American politics. Marvin is available for public speaking engagements and you can follow him on Twitter @kingpolitics




 
 

 
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31 Comments


  1. [...] Was Martin Luther King a Republican? | Politic365 __________________ . A CEO, a Conservative and a Liberal walk into a room. There ae ten cookies on the table. The CEO takes nine and whispers to the Conservative…….Liberals trying to take your cookie [...]


  2. [...] nation drones: yes we can, forgetting he was a Baptist preacher a theologian – perhaps  Republican… I remember him as a  scriptural [...]


  3. The author states, “Republicans like John Sununu think so little of blacks that they honestly believe that black voters cast their ballots solely based on race, and not ideas.” I think that many, maybe most. black voters did vote for Obama based on his campaign promises, his ideas. But it has become very obvious that many, mostly “low information” blacks voted for Obama based solely on his color. Many of these voters have said as much.


    • mzaz

      Democrats founded the KKK

      Fought the 13th, 14th and 15th amendment

      Instituted Jim Crow Laws

      Fought the 1965 rights act

      And continue to keep racism alive and blacks on their so called liberal plantation.


  4. Your comments are telling of your attempt to either rewrite history or your ignorance of it. The Republicans party has always stood for civil rights. Under Eisenhower the GOP offered two civil rights bills 1957 and 1960. Republicans supported both. The Democrats lead by LBJ in the Senate watered down the bills. By the way both bills protected Black People’s right to vote.

    However, you must understand conservatism. They (We) do not believe that the Federal government has the right to tell individuals what to do with their businesses. So when the new civil rights bill of 1964 comes along and tells private businesses they can not discriminate many in the GOP felt this was an overstep of Federal powers and thus unconstitutional. Not that they agreed with discrimination but it was a legal issue as well as moral one. Most conservatives felt that economics would eventually change the racist behavior of the South.

    Finally, don’t equate conservatism with segregationist. They are not the same. Conservatives are classical liberals who seek freedom from big government and government control. Many Black people forget that it was big government that enslaved our race in the first place. Also States rights is an issue that has been argued since the framing of the Constitution. Because people are for states rights does not make them segregationist. Read the tenth amendment. For that matter read the Constitution.


    • So I guess the classic southern slave owner was a liberal. Lol. Love how republicans try to distort history.


    • The point is, if you can’t get the information straight about the party you probably have the information about MLK wrong as well and have an agenda. You know absolutely nothing about the history of the GOP and continue to propagate lies and myths. Do some research other than Democrat talking points and you’ll see that this piece is in error. You can’t say all the dixicrats moved into the GOP then note that they voted for the 1957 and 1960 civil rights acts. The GOP has not changed it stance on civil rights, period.


    • You’ve not demonstrated where Mr. King was incorrect. Instead, you misrepresent the GOP’s position on civil rights during the early 60s and prior as identical to their position today. And that’s a humongous lie, proven by the current GOP efforts with Voter ID laws in multiple states, and wholesale alienation of African-American and other minority voters. Haven’t you listened to your leaders’ rhetoric? Both Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan have attributed their loss to ‘Blacks’ receiving some illicit benefit from the Obama campaign. The ‘MLK was a Republican’ meme is a 2nd lie. Here again, you’ve not produced any evidence in support of this belief.

      “You can’t say all the dixicrats moved into the GOP then note that they voted for the 1957 and 1960 civil rights acts”.

      That’s what folks call a ‘straw man’ fallacy. There is no evidence conservatives in either party supported ever civil rights legislation. The fact of the matter is Republicans of that time were moderate-to-left-of-center, politically. At the same time you’re incorrect to suggest all or even most post-New Deal Democrats of that era were conservatives, even though their party was the dominant one. It is a well-established fact that many southern Democrats, being conservative, defected to (then) nearly moribund Republican Party in part to protest passing of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. And you’re clearly denying the GOP has changed its ideological tilt from left-of-center to right-of-center as a result.


      • mitch

        KKKonservativism was evil,very bad & racist when Democrats was KKKonservatives. KKKonservativism is still evil,very bad & racist now since Republicans are now the KKKonservatives. The KKKonservative ideology is just evil and it’s cancer to any democracy! the faster we cut this KKKonservativism cancer out of our democracy, the more freedom this democracy will have!


    • Only a genuinely deceitful or wholly ignorant person would post a response that does something other than address the subject of the op-ed.

      The facts of the matter are: a) there is no evidence to support modern Republicans’ claims that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was ever a member of the Republican Party, or voted for Republican candidates, and b) then-Republican support of civil rights in 1957 and 1960 is in no fashion representative of the party’s ideological stance today. AAMOF, Democrats were the party of conservatives until the signing of the CRA and Voting Rights Act.

      The remainder of your attempted revisionism re: conservatives and American race relations is pure bunk.


    • Just “The Southern Strategy”. The political beliefs did change during the Civil Rights era.


    • I meant to say just google “The Southern Strategy”. A conservative Republican from Arizona, Barry Goldwater, voted against the civil rights bill. The actions of LBJ let Southern Dems know that the Dem. party was no longer that place for them…and Goldwater’s actions let Southerners know that the Republican party was the party that was going to the party for them. With LBJ and the passage of the civil rights bills, the Democrats lost a lot of southern whites to the Republicans who actively courted their votes (the Southern strategy). Thus, the Democratic Party became ever more liberal, and the GOP became even more conservative. There are a TONs of holes in what I have just said…but these are the high points.


    • mitch

      that’s “LIE. ” modern Republicans have never stood for civil. seem like you are the one that’s trying very hard to rewrite history. it’s funny how whites always think they know anything about black people. this last election have proved how out of touch. Republicans are to minorities. then people like you are the ones who need to learn your history! I have notice that the southern strategy never was brought up in anyway.! I question the facts of the, Arthur who published this story. if this Guy is from KKKonservative Texas this tell me a lot. not to believe anything that comes for there! Wikipedia have, MLK. as a progressive independent. not a Republican or Democrats. so the Reichwingers are “LYING.” MLK. stood for social justice, unions(Republicans hate unions& fail to mention this fact.) he supported social programs,he supported,JFK.He was called a Communist & socialist by Republicans & KKKonservatives. Republicans stop with your lies!!!! there’s no proof than he was a Republican or KKKonservative. MLK kids said very many times that there father wasn’t a Republican.


  5. Wow, what an effort to twist the truth. Iwould LOVE to hear you twist away from the fact that the KKK was founded by DEMOCRATS and that DEMOCRATS voted against freeing the slaves…


    • mitch

      You have failed to mention that the Democratic party was KKKonservative back during slavery! Lincoln was liberal. this country have taken a very big political change, thats to the Republicans race baiting southern strategy. Republicans will never mention the truth about anything mainly the southern strategy. this political strategy that the Republicans have uses have lefted a mark on history, in a very negative way. Republicans will always try to lie there was out of this fact. by bringing up Lincoln (liberal Lincoln) .to justify & hide the racism there Republican party is doing today in the present. this is the republican’s way of closing there minds to any type of helpful discussion about race. they should take a very hard look at themselves, at the racism they do now through groups like the tea party. the tea party now have all those racist hate groups. that Republicans keeps saying that Democrats have. look at Wikipedia under KKK. Wikipedia have them as “FAR RIGH” ideology with the Nazis. but that never stopped Reichwinger from lying and twisting the facts. just like there lying about MLK being a Republican. just look at Wikipedia


  6. Go see “Runaway Slave”. It will open your eyes.


  7. Democrats have been running our inner-cities for the past 30 to 40 years, and blacks are still complaining about the same problems. More than $7 trillion dollars have been spent on poverty programs since Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty with little, if any, impact on poverty. Diabolically, every election cycle, Democrats blame Republicans for the deplorable conditions in the inner-cities, then incite blacks to cast a protest vote against Republicans.

    In order to break the Democrats’ stranglehold on the black vote and free black Americans from the Democrat Party’s economic plantation, we must shed the light of truth on the Democrats. We must demonstrate that the Democrat Party policies of socialism and dependency on government handouts offer the pathway to poverty, while Republican Party principles of hard work, personal responsibility, getting a good education and ownership of homes and small businesses offer the pathway to prosperity.


  8. Few black Americans know that it was Republicans who founded the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Unknown also is the fact that Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen from Illinois was key to the passage of civil rights legislation in 1957, 1960, 1964 and 1965. Not mentioned in recent media stories about extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is the fact that Dirksen wrote the language for the bill. Dirksen also crafted the language for the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which prohibited discrimination in housing. President Lyndon Johnson could not have achieved passage of civil rights legislation without the support of Republicans.

    Critics of Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater, who ran for President against Johnson in 1964, ignore the fact that Goldwater wanted to force the Democrats in the South to stop passing discriminatory laws and thus end the need to continuously enact federal civil rights legislation.

    Those who wrongly criticize Goldwater also ignore the fact that Johnson, in his 4,500 State of the Union Address delivered on Jan. 4, 1965, mentioned scores of topics for federal action, but only 35 words were devoted to civil rights. He did not mention one word about voting rights. Then in 1967, showing his anger with Dr. King’s protest against the Vietnam War, Johnson referred to Dr. King as “that ^$#$&! preacher.”

    Contrary to the false assertions by Democrats, the racist “Dixiecrats” did not all migrate to the Republican Party. “Dixiecrats” declared that they would rather vote for a “yellow dog” than vote for a Republican because the Republican Party was know as the party for blacks. Today, some of those “Dixiecrats” continue their political careers as Democrats, including Robert Byrd, who is well known for having been a “Keagle” in the Ku Klux Klan.


  9. No I’m no writing that. How big is your tin foil hat? LOL So happy you uncovered the truth about MLK it takes about 5 seconds on line. Your just and Obama bot.


    • Well it appeared as if you were trying to pass if off as your own as you didn’t say, “Here is something interesting that another human being wrote, not me.” Enjoy your truth, next time acknowledge someone else wrote it. Oh, and grammatically speaking, you meant to write: “YOU’RE just AN Obama bot.” There is a difference between YOUR and YOU’RE and AND and AN. It now makes perfect sense that not only did you not write your (used correctly because it is yours) original comments but that you actually couldn’t have done so even if you had wanted to in the first place. Night.


  10. 97% of aferican americans want to live in a Marxist, soicalist country?


  11. Typical knee jerk socialistic response. Your rather Pavlovian aren’t you.. Care to play chess for money? So lame. Do you tuck it between your legs when you spew you bs Honey? If you can’t face the truth then just up your dosage child.


    • This is a typical socialistic response? And again, please, YOUR and YOU’RE are two different things. As for the Pavlovian response can you explain that to me cause I’m guessing you can’t. The chess for money is an odd challenge. I assume it is an attempt to prove that you are smarter than I am but with all the grammatical errors and childish insults I have my doubts about your intelligence.

      Here is our (ashamed that we have a timeline)
      1. You try and pass off what someone else wrote about MLK as your (used correctly) own.
      2) I call you out on it.
      3) You congratulate me on finding it as if you meant it to happen and you weren’t plagiarizing someone else in an effort to sound smart.
      4) You insult me with tin foil hat (not much of insult) and Obama bot, even though you don’t know anything about me.
      5) I ask you to cite your work in the future and attempt, I say attempt to help you grammatically, but fail because your current post still has errors.
      6) You then call me a socialist, and Pavlovian, although I highly doubt you could explain it to me, and finally, insult me again.
      7) So what do you say to this, if MLK is republican:http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/01/voted-against-mlk-day-mccain-hatch-grassley-shelby.html
      8) How is one, an Obama bot?


  12. MasterOfSparks

    Republicans would have us believe that Lincoln led people from states like Mississippi and Alabama to free slaves from states like New York and Delaware. All one need do is look at a map of the slave states of the Civil War and compare it to a 2004 map of red and blue states. Then compare it to a map of the most impoverished regions in the US. They’re the SAME damned states!


  13. […] These devils will never win because they consistently play themselves in games of their own making.  […]



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