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Limiting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Legacy will hurt everyone.

A disturbing but not unexpected post is out there now by a family member of Martin Luther King criticizing the NAACP’s statement on Marriage Equality. Unfortunately the real damage of such an effort will be towards and within the African American community by muddying the extremely important legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This hurts everyone however given how crucial his messages are for anyone who looks for progress on Civil Justice issues. Additionally, this action also immeasurably harms the Black community further by making more invisible another great leader and Civil Rights advocate, Bayard Rustin. These are two offenses done by  Alveda King and I will write about each to be as clear as I can be. I believe anyone who cares about Social Justice should be speaking out with outrage against  Alveda King’s comments and here is why.

Neither my great-grandfather, an NAACP founder, my grandfather Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. an NAACP leader, my father Rev. A. D. Williams King, nor my uncle Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. embraced the homosexual agenda that the current NAACP is attempting to label as a civil rights agenda. In the 21st Century, the anti-traditional marriage community is in league with the anti-life community, and together with the NAACP and other sympathizers, they are seeking a world where homosexual marriage and abortion will supposedly set the captives free.”

Captives and the History of African Americans

For me, the most bothering part of Alveda King’s comments come from her appropriation of critical language from Dr King’s important speeches, but tarnishing them, by implication that “captive” dealt only with slavery or segregation. The call to Freedom is such a ringing refrain through his speeches, that to try and constrict its meaning is an offense and an attempt to rewrite history. Her purpose is not very opaque, and by combining the issues of abortion and homosexuality, her own agenda is quite clear. Her’s is a moral crusade that is in no real way connected to the work of the great Civil Rights leaders she claims as her lineage.

Skin Color

I have heard some African Americans who are unhappy that today’s gay rights movement calls itself a Civil Rights Movement and sees itself as an extension of the Civil Rights efforts of Dr King and others. Alveda’s comments use this trope as she states:

Many Black people are realizing just how far off the mark the NAACP is with regard to the real issues and the most important problems facing the black community,

But we know historically, that slavery and segregation, and the vast period of History where so many millions of people were treated so horribly was not only about skin color. European politics, power struggles, geography, religion, economics, greed, and other factors allowed for what became the slave trade and subsequent history. To call this about the Black Community, is insulting to all those Americans who spent their lives without true Freedom and Equity as well as those today and still left outside of a fair and good life.

Economics rather than a Simplistic Biblical Morality

While it can be argued that so many of Dr King’s great speeches surrounded religious themes and imagery, his point was never purely theological. He used  a liberation theology of  and justice seeking that many find within Christian Scriptures, and spoke in a methodology that the masses at that time would understand and appreciate. King’s words and actions where more directed at economic equality, labor struggles, and the way poverty and segregation eliminated opportunity to rise above the status quo of the time. For Alveda King to suggest anything otherwise is disrespectful to more than a few civil rights leaders, but the whole of the Civil Rights movement.

Abortion is NOT a Queer Issue, but…

One of the most disappointing parts of this press release (and not limited to Alveda King’s involvement) is the attempt to align Abortion and what they are calling the “homosexual agenda.” This is nothing more than another blatant attempt to pit minority communities against each other. The anti-choice groups have had real successes over the past few decades, and given how desperate they are now to stop full civil rights for gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and queer people, their hope is to turn that animus towards us too. What these two issues have in common however, is that each and every one of us have a right over own own bodies and our own decisions and our own behaviors. The Supreme Court guaranteed right to choice and the equality the LGBTQ community demands isn’t about imposing anything on anyone else, but rather stopping the imposition of a few’s ideas onto the whole. And, even if Choice and Queer Rights are not the exact same thing, we must all stand in unity against a hollowly-based theological argument which can not be accepted along with the US Constitutional Rights we all deserve.

Bayard Rustin

The most selfish part of this press release however, is the shameful way that it pushes, even further into invisibility Bayard Rustin without whom the success of Dr. King’s efforts may never have been visualized. Openly gay, and therefore, disadvantaged Rustin was the true mastermind behind the March on Washington. If he were a straight man, his name would be much more of a household name than it is today. This exactly, is an illustration of why full equality for all people, including LGBTQ’s is essential, and truly a meaningful part of the larger Civil Rights movement.

Coretta Scott King

Alveda wasn’t nearly as close to Martin as Coretta Scott King, who came out for Marriage Equality in 2004. She herself, called it a civil rights issue, and no matter how hard Alveda wants to try and pretend, that is a reality about support for marriage equality within the King family.

“Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union,” she said. “A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages.”

This passage about Coretta Scott King, and quote from her is telling:

In 1998, just a few days before the 30th anniversary of her husband’s assassination, she noted the obvious similarities:

“Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”

This video of Coretta Scott King makes it clear where a King legacy sits with the issue of LGBTQ Equality and Marriage Equality:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHm8djZqTzk[/youtube]

Religiously Justified Bigotry

Alveda’s comments and that of the other folks associated with her are nothing more than religiously fueled homophobia. They have that right. Religious freedom allows them to spew their stuff out there, and I do not mean to silence them.  I do mean however, to stand up and refuse to have the legacy of true civil rights leaders tarnished, rewritten or changed to suit the religious bigotry of a few today.

 

Full Queerty story here: http://www.queerty.com/dr-martin-luther-kings-niece-mlk-wouldnt-emrace-naacps-homosexual-agenda-20120523/#ixzz1vhi55Zyc

Press Release on ChristianNewsWrire: http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/8460119770.html

 

 

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