Ads say MLK was Republican

Image by National Black Republican AssociationImage by 20080706martinluther.jpg One of the signs touting the message, this one is in Orangeburg at Interstate 26's Exit 145.

A black Republicans group is pushing an ad campaign promoting the idea that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican.

Billboard signs in South Carolina and Florida by the National Black Republican Association.

An Associated Press story says the campaign has been met with much skepticism:
[Rev. Joseph] Lowery, who knew King well, said there is no reason why anyone would think King was a Republican.


"That was not the Martin I know and I don't think they can substantiate that by any shape, form or fashion. It's purely propaganda and poppycock," Lowery said. "Even if he was, he would have nothing to do with what the Republican Party stands for today. Do they think Martin would support George W. Bush and the war in Iraq?"

In "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.," which was published after his death from his written material and records, King called the Republican National Convention that nominated (Barry) Goldwater a "frenzied wedding ... of the KKK and the radical right."

"The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and extremism," King said in the book.

But this isn't the first time the tactic has been used. A similar radio ad campaign was run by the group in 2006. That campaign was a called a "joke" by a former spokesman of the group, saying: "Anyone with any sense knows that most black people were Republican at one time. But it's a far stretch to think that in the '60s Martin Luther King was a Republican."

A Washington Post article talks on the radio ad campaign:
It is true that Southern Democrats, many of whom called themselves "Dixiecrats," blocked the social and political progress of black Southerners for decades. Among them was Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), a former local leader in the Ku Klux Klan. Byrd has said he regrets his affiliation.

In 1960, King was arrested for trespassing during a sit-in and held in Georgia's Reidsville prison. Fearing for his son's life, Martin Luther King Sr. appealed to presidential candidate John F. Kennedy to secure his release.

When King was freed, his father vowed to deliver 10 million votes to the Democrat, even though Kennedy was only a reluctant supporter of civil rights. That began four decades of black people voting for liberals.

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