Dr. King and real supporters

Published 4:55 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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To the Editor:

Throughout the years – and especially on Martin Luther King Day – countless people representing different walks of life quote the beneficent humanitarian and civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We sometimes hear MAGA (Make America Great Again) Republicans and others who embrace very conservative social, economic, and political ideologies quote Dr. King. Interestingly, many of the aforementioned individuals do not know who Dr. King really was in terms of where he stood on multiple hot-button issues of the 1950s and 1960s.

Dr. King stood on a foundation of righteousness and truth.

Dr. King often asserted, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

How many people believe in feeding the hungry or reaching out to someone experiencing misfortune and despair? How often do bystanders speak out when an old woman is beaten and robbed? When an unarmed black man is fleeing the police and getting shot down mercilessly by an officer in pursuit, who will join the family of the victim in protest to demand justice? These questions help determine who is willing to place principle above passivity in the tradition of MLK.

Dr. King opposed racism, poverty, and militarism, as evidenced by his numerous writings, including Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? King even rebuked President Lyndon Johnson who had committed, steadfastly, to continue the War in Vietnam, which turned out to be a fiasco and disaster for the United States. In fact, King, on April 4, 1967, delivered his seminal speech condemning the war at Riverside Church in Harlem. The great prophet stated, “My conscience leaves me no other choice.” (King, “Beyond Vietnam,” 139). Further, Dr. King asserted that the Vietnam War had deleterious effects on America’s poor and Vietnam peasants. (King, “Beyond Vietnam”).

By the way, MLK was assassinated one year to the day in 1968 after his Riverside speech. Arguably, it is somewhat conventional wisdom that King – after his public disagreement with President Johnson – was a thorn in the President’s side had to go.

President Kennedy was spot on when he declared, in 1961, “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” Dr. King echoed this and more through his works and generous deeds.

We have a moral obligation to rekindle that flame and actualize what is written in the Book of James (KJV) 1:22: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

Keith W. Cooper