Although the claim has been made, most prominently by Dr. Martin Luther King’s own niece, Republican activist Alveda King, that her uncle was a Republican and conservative groups have purchased billboards across the country, apparently trying to claim the mantle of the slain civil right icon for their own, the claim has been debunked by King’s son, Martin Luther King III. He would probably know. It was also debunked by his biographer, David Garrow.
There’s also the fact that King campaigned tirelessly for Lyndon Johnson in 1964…
But if you really want to know how King felt about Republicans, why not simply take him at his own word, in this excerpt from his autobiography.
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.
I don’t see a lot of wiggle room there myself, but imagine how many halfwits who heard about King being a Republican from Fox News or talk radio are strutting around today believing, repeating and arguing about this nonsense. Is the ignorance of the right funny? Tragic? Dangerous? I can’t tell anymore! It’s all three, no doubt.
Here’s what Martin Luther King III had to say about the billboards claiming his father was a Republican:
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.
During his public life, King was constantly accused of being a Communist. He was, for the most part, rather circumspect about making public statements that might be seen as “commie,” but in private, this was apparently not the case. In one of his speeches, King stated that “something is wrong with capitalism” and “There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”
Does that sound like much of a Republican OR a Democrat to you?
King, though probably a socialist, rejected Marx—whose philosophy he studied at Morehouse College—because Marxism rejects religion and he considered the Soviet system too totalitarian.