The National Black Republican Association(NBRA) claims that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. registered as a Republican in 1956. NBRA Chairman Frances Rice writes that "It should come as no surprise that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. In that era, almost all black Americans were Republicans. Why? From its founding in 1854 as the anti-slavery party until today, the Republican Party has championed freedom and civil rights for blacks. And as one pundit so succinctly stated, the Democrat Party is as it always has been, the party of the four S's: slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism."
Rice writes that it was Democrats who were slave owners and opposed integration. Actually, many northern Democrats opposed slavery and not all southern Democrats supported slavery. Meanwhile, according to Rice, the Republicans had "fought to free blacks from slavery." Certainly blacks obtained emancipation as a result of the Civil War but not even Abraham Lincoln advocated the freeing of slaves as an initial objective of the war. Even the Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the south and not in any of the states of the Union.
As to modern white southerners switching to the Republican party, Rice asserts that was due to white Christians refusing to vote any longer for the Dixiecrats "who did not share their values and were still discriminating against their fellow Christians who happened to be black." Yes, I seem to distinctly recall at the urging of fundamentalist preachers that overwhelming numbers of white southerners switched to the Republican party in protest of the Dixiecrat segregationists.
As a southerner, I would like to inform Rice that it is no longer acceptable to use the term Dixiecrat. The now acceptable term is Republican for the vast majority of the white conservative pro-segregation southerners who switched political affiliation because they believed the Democratic party had been overrun by blacks.
I guess that the Republican party no longer promises free homesteads to farmers as it did when it was first founded. Forget those forty acres and a mule. Nor somehow can I imagine Republicans, not even black ones, endorsing Dr. King's Poor People's Campaign to use "a multiracial army of the poor" to engage in extensive civil disobedience until the government passed a bill of rights for poor people. King wanted the government to guarantee incomes for all its citizens and to provide massive government job programs. He also wanted "radical changes in the structure of our society" to ensure an equitable distribution of wealth. "True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
The right reverend Republican King wrote that about "capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries." King felt that around the world that America was "on the wrong side of a world revolution" and asked why America sided with "the landed gentry of Latin America" while putting down movements "of the shirtless and barefoot people." Yes, now that my memory has been jogged, I recall hearing all the Republican calls for worldwide revolution of the downtrodden and poor against their rich oppressors.
In a 1967 speech, King called America "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." He said that the United States acted like the Nazis. He furthermore encouraged anyone eligible for the draft to become pacifists and conscientious objectors. King argued that "the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism" were interlocked and caused oppression, injustice and poverty. No doubt Dr. King would stand right along side President Bush in holding the course in Iraq.
As to where the good conservative Republican King might stand today on the issues of gay rights, let us look at what he did regarding the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom back in 1963. In the face of considerable criticism, King insisted that Bayard Rustin be a principle organizer and director of the march. Rustin was controversial because he had been a member of the Communist Party and he had been in jail several times for refusing to serve in the military. Rustin had also been busted several times for homosexual acts. Senator Strom Thurmond as a Democrat in 1963 called Rustin a "Communist, draft-dodger, and homosexual." I found no evidence that Thurmond retracted that statement upon becoming a Republican in 1964.
Instead of making a splendid contemporary Republican, former Republican Senator Jesse Helms perhaps best typified the former Dixiecrat turned conservative Republican view that "King associated with identified members of the Communist Party . . ." Such a view had also been held by many white southerners including the Reverend Jerry Falwell who was part of the movement to start private "Christian" schools to keep white children from having to go to school with blacks.
Readily granted, King's father had been a registered Republican at one point. But then MLK, Sr. in 1960 openly endorsed John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr. In that era when Rice claims that most blacks were Republicans, 70 per cent of black neighborhoods voted for Kennedy. By 1964, 94 percent of blacks voted for LBJ. The same percentage voted for Hubert Humphrey in 1968. The former Republican MLK, Sr. promoted Jimmy Carter and deliver the invocations at 1976 and 1980 Democratic National Conventions. That was very Republican of him.
As to the younger King's politics, the hope had been for many that in 1968 that King would run for president on an anti poverty and antiwar agenda with Dr. Benjamin Spock as his vice-presidential candidate. By that point in his career, King's attacks on capitalism, militarism and racism had grown so controversial that even the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said that: "To attempt to merge the civil rights movement with the peace movement will serve the cause neither of civil rights nor of peace."
In short, to act as if Martin Luther King, Jr. would be a Republican today is baseless propaganda. The Republican party today would not even welcome Abraham Lincoln, who never even belonged to a church, much less an anticapitalist radical like Dr. King. The Republican party today has become the party of the descendants of slave owners while their former party now is the preference for the descendants of slaves. There is no unbroken line of consistency on civil rights by either major political party and it is outrageous to assert that either party has an exclusive claim to having been the champion of civil rights.
Finally, regarding suspect scholarship, the web site Venice Florida! accused Rice of plagiarizing from a column from the black and conservative Colbert King of The Washington Post. Writer John Patten noted Rice used a sentence "It's hard to imagine a more demeaning and offensive caricature of a prospective secretary of state, let alone someone who was the most senior official on the national security staff." That quote was "all over the web" and attributed to King. Patten also accused Rice of lifting "almost all of her ideas straight from King . . ." Patten asked if these were his words and King responded that "I recognize a phrase or two."
While the evidence is certainly compelling I do not claim to be an expert on plagiarism so I do not know if the charges of plagiarism are true or not. To me what is even more egregious is Rice's email response to charges of plagiarism and intellectual dishonesty. The chairman of the National Black Republican Association responded that:
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