Barack Obama’s inauguration coming as we celebrate of Martin Luther King Day predictably draws linkages between the two. Many use Obama’s election to claim a realization of the “dream.” Others mumble something about a post-racial America. I suspect that King, if alive, would reject such nonsense. Although when asked “who he thought King would support” in the 2008 primary campaign Obama made a good case for answering “Nobody,” it is possible that King may have supported Obama.
King was a politician of sorts, although not so much at the time of his assassination. We love King now, but at the end of his life he wasn’t so popular. Younger activists criticized him and called him names such as “Da Lord” – mocking his once high place in civil rights politics. President Lyndon B. Johnson and a host of government officials, local and national, condemned him when he spoke out against the Vietnam War. King was not universally cheered when he marched, to his death, with the garbage workers in Memphis striking for fair wages and respect. Truth be told, he was jeered, even by some blacks.
Sure, we love King now, but there was a time when people turned their back on him and his message. Continue reading