It may come as a surprise to many but according to many public documents, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican.
Before someone goes suggesting this is some sort of public relations spin on behalf of my party, allow me to present the cold, hard evidence. There’s no spin here. These are facts:
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s father, Martin Luther King, Sr. was not only a registered Republican, but he publicly endorsed Richard M. Nixon (a Republican) for President.
It was A. Phillip Randolph – an African American and a member of the Republican Party – who coordinated the famous “March on Washington” for Dr. King, where King gave his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech that we celebrated yesterday.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., according to Frances Rice of the National Black Republican Caucus (NBRC), was battling “Democrats who stood in the school house doors, turned skin-burning fire hoses on blacks and let loose vicious dogs.”
Surprised? Upon close examination, it stands to reason that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican:
The Republican Party was founded in the year 1854 as the “anti-slavery party” – a party which gave us President Abraham Lincoln and subsequently the Emancipation Proclamation and the freeing of slaves. It was actually Democrats who fought the Emancipation Proclamation in order to keep African Americans in slavery.
It was the Republican Party that amended the Constitution to free them from slavery (the 13th Amendment), give them citizenship (the 14th Amendment) and provide the right to vote (the 15th Amendment). In fact, Republicans passed the Civil Rights laws of the 1860s, including the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Reconstruction Act of 1867, and they have stood for civil rights dating all the way back to 1854.
The Democratic Party was responsible for passing Jim Crow laws and the so-called Black Civil Codes which gave us separate-but-equal drinking fountains, swimming pools, and the like.
In fact, the majority of Democrats fought every single passage of every single Civil Rights law dating back to the 1860s, up through the 1950s and 1960s.
Even prominent Democrats such as John F. Kennedy actually voted against the 1957 Civil Rights Act while he was serving in the U.S. Senate. So did Senator Al Gore, Sr. Although, admittedly it was President Lyndon B. Johnson who forced passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act after the assassination of President Kennedy.
But it was a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who appointed Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, a move which resulted in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education which led to the end of school segregation.
Not convinced yet? There’s more:
Republicans actually authored Legislation to create black colleges and universities – the institutions which are a source of historic pride for the African American community.
And it was black Republicans who founded the NAACP.
It was Republican Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois (the “land of Lincoln”) who drafted legislation on numerous civil rights acts – not the least of which was the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which banned discrimination in housing.
It was President Richard M. Nixon who introduced “the Philadelphia Plan” – the blueprint for what is known as Affirmative Action today – although certainly many of today’s Republicans disagree with Nixon’s policy on the basis that the policy is outdated because equal opportunities in education and the workplace now exist, or that it violates Martin Luther King’s call for us not to judge an applicant based upon the color of their skin.
Last but not least, it was President Ronald Reagan – another Republican – who in 1984 signed into law the holiday known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
One might wonder why Republicans never get “credit” for any of this. I suspect it is the age-old problem that Republicans just don’t communicate well. Or perhaps we’re too busy doing the actual work to take pause for credit. Or it could be that we’re simply following Ronald Reagan’s creed that we can do great things together if we don’t care who gets the credit.
Whatever the case, as we commemorate the holiday this week I am proud to be a member of Dr. King’s party. May his convictions for equality and his dreams live on forever.