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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Republicans Put Up 50 MLK Billboards in Denver

They’re at it again. The National Black Republican Association is bragging that they have put up 50 billboards in Denver claiming that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. No doubt they hope to cast a pall over Obama’s acceptance speech, which will be delivered on the 45th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s total B.S., of course, and anyone who can read can see why by paying a visit to Chapter 23 of the Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., in which America’s greatest ciivil rights leader has some disparaging things to say about the GOP and its candidate of the day, among them:

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. In foreign policy Mr. Goldwater advocated a narrow nationalism, a crippling isolationism, and a trigger-happy attitude that could plunge the whole world into the dark abyss of annihilation. On social and economic issues, Mr. Goldwater represented an unrealistic conservatism that was totally out of touch with the realities of the twentieth century. The issue of poverty compelled the attention of all citizens of our country. Senator Goldwater had neither the concern nor the comprehension necessary to grapple with this problem of poverty in the fashion that the historical moment dictated. On the urgent issue of civil rights, Senator Goldwater represented a philosophy that was morally indefensible and socially suicidal. While not himself a racist, Mr. Goldwater articulated a philosophy which gave aid and comfort to the racist. His candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand. In the light of these facts and because of my love for America, 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.
While I had followed a policy of not endorsing political candidates, I felt that the prospect of Senator Goldwater being President of the United States so threatened the health, morality, and survival of our nation, that I could not in good conscience fail to take a stand against what he represented.

And just to clarify, Dr. King’s son and namesake, Martin Luther King III, had this to say about the same billboards put up by the same group in FL and SC:

It is disingenuous to imply that my father was a Republican. He never endorsed any presidential candidate, and there is certainly no evidence that he ever even voted for a Republican. It is even more outrageous to suggest that he would support the Republican Party of today, which has spent so much time and effort trying to suppress African American votes in Florida and many other states.

Given the record of Dr. King’s stated views, you would think Republicans would have enough sense to know that this type of disinformation and distortion will come back to bite them where it hurts. Hopefully some enterprising Denver reporter will figure out who is paying for the billboards.

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