Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Martin Luther King III on Hillary's Comment

Martin Luther King III at Riverside Church in New York City, January 15, 2007.

I've actually been wondering what he thought about it all.

From today's Boston Globe article, "King's son says Clinton erred," by David Abel:

King, son of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, said he thought the controversy had been blown out of proportion. However, he also said that Clinton's words were potentially denigrating.

"I wish it was said in a different way," he said before addressing a packed Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, where his father once preached.

He added later: "What I think, fundamentally, is that, between the media and the two candidates, a lot is being stirred up. What I assume she was trying to say is that a president needs leadership and vision. I don't believe her intent was to diminish my dad."

In an interview after his address, King said he has not ruled out making an endorsement in the presidential campaign.

"I've been neutral," he said. "I don't know if that's going to change. I was very excited about the fact that Senator Obama was able to win the Iowa primary. I think that was extremely significant. I'm not endorsing anyone at this point. You don't ever want to say you're not going to, but some of that will be a family decision."

He said he wants to see "the best candidate emerge to the top."

"We're blessed to have three candidates still in the race on the Democratic side who would make great presidents," he said. "On the Republican side, I'm not as clear. What I mean by that is that I haven't seen them come forward and embrace the agenda for black and poor people."

Interestingly, a year ago yesterday, King III was introducing John Edwards at an address Edwards gave at Riverside Church in New York City.

From Associated Press, January 15, 2007:
Edwards addressed about 1,200 parishioners Sunday at Riverside Church, a multiracial, politically active Manhattan congregation where King delivered his famous "Beyond Vietnam" speech on April 4, 1967. King was assassinated exactly one year later.

Edwards spoke from the same wooden pulpit King used and was introduced by King's son, Martin Luther King III. The younger King said his father would have admired Edwards' commitment to fighting poverty.


crystal said...

Alternatively, have you read the commonwela post MLK and LBJ?

cowboyangel said...

Thanks, Crystal, for the link. That was actually an op-ed in the Washington Post by Joseph Califano, LBJ's special assistant for domestic affairs.

I don't have any problem including Lyndon Johnson in a discussion of the Civil Rights Movement. I respect Johnson - a lot more than most liberals, who only look at his role in Vietnam. The work he did to get the Voting Rights Act passed was crucial - one of the better things a president has ever accomplished while in office. And I don't think he gets enough credit for what he did.

But watch the video of Hillary making her comment. Then watch the video I posted about King. Imagine you're one of those young African-Americans in Birmingham, getting knocked across the street by high-powered water hoses, beaten by white racist cops, with German shepherds attacking you. You're thrown in jail. Not once but several times this happens. Maybe one of your friends or family members is actually lynched. A sister is raped. Then, 40 years later, a white establishment politician says that a white president was the one who actually got things done. How would you feel?

King and Johnson were both important, but in very differing ways and degrees. One does not read histories of the Civil Rights Movement and come away believing that white politicians, even one as important and ultimately supportive as Lyndon Johnson, were the ones resposnible for making the dream a reality. It took the blood and guts and agape love of thousands of African-Americans, most of them poor, whose names we don't even know, some of whom paid with their lives, to make the dream a reality.

I thought King III said it very well: "I don't believe her intent was to diminish my dad."

But: "I wish it was said in a different way."