Martin Luther King Jr. wasn't always popular. The reasons for that remain a challenge for us today

3 months ago 58

It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day on which Democrats and Republicans alike will revere the great civil rights leader, a day on which you are likely to hear again and again the same few fragments of his I Have a Dream speech. It’s a day on which we must remember that during his lifetime, King was a divisive figure, someone who Gallup never found to have majority approval, someone who 31% of people told a pollster had brought his assassination on himself.

There are reasons for that: The cause of civil rights for Black people was itself not overwhelmingly popular among white people, for one. And King never stopped pushing the nation to do better. If he had lived decades longer and kept pushing, Republicans would still probably hate him.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let’s remember the full scope of King’s politics, not just the oh so convenient, out of context, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

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