Jan 18, 2010
The Henry Ford Museum helps celebrate MLK Day
DEARBORN -- I celebrated Martin Luther King Day the way many people in southeast Michigan did, celebrating the King legacy at the Henry Ford Museum.
The “With Liberty and Justice for All” display has an excellent history of the Civil Rights movement that is King’s real legacy, and the Henry Ford is a true Michigan gem. The actual Montgomery City bus that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white rider that brought King to prominence is at the museum. The good folks at Target made admission free, and it is becoming a tradition for me; attending the last two years.
What has also become a tradition is the lie that King was a Republican. The National Black Republican Association first floated that lie in 2006, and those that knew King debunked the lie. However, that has not stopped Republicans from trying it every MLK Day, and even this year at least two Michigan rightwing bloggers have tried it.
They point to the fact that southern Democrats - known as “Dixicrats” - supported segregation in the early 1960’s, but they fled to the Republican Party following the passage of President Lyndon Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964. King’s father, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., was once a registered Republican, but King, Jr. never was.
The senior King was also a Baptist minister like his son, and he was the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church for four decades. He initially supported Richard Nixon in 1960 over President John F. Kennedy, but that changed shortly before Kennedy was elected.
In 1960, King, Jr. was arrested for trespassing during a sit-in and held in Georgia's Reidsville prison. Fearing for his son's life, according to the Washington Post, King Sr. appealed to then presidential candidate JFK to secure his release. When King was freed, his father vowed to deliver 10 million votes to the Democrats. That was the last time African-Americans ever voted for the GOP.
King Sr. also played a notable role in the nomination of Jimmy Carter as the Democratic candidate for President in the 1976 election. King Sr. pointed to Carter's leadership in ending the era of segregation in Georgia, and helping to repeal laws ending voting restrictions that especially disenfranchised African Americans.
King, Jr. voted for Kennedy, and he actively campaigned for Johnson four years later. In that election, King publicly denounced the Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater, who was actually a real conservative.
King was also a strong support of labor unions and working men and women, and he saw a decent wage and working conditions as a civil right. The civil rights leader was in Memphis on April 4, 1968, to lead a march of city sanitation workers protesting against low wages and poor working conditions when he was murdered.