#ReclaimMLK Reveals How American History Distorts the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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James Forman (second from left)
James Forman (second from left)

Since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, the narrative of his activism has been whitewashed to be used in ways to control and pacify current-day Black activists. Conservatives have turned the man’s legacy into a prop for respectability politics, and they have essentially rewritten his history to push conservative ideals on Black people. Most people don’t know that conservatives were against acknowledging MLK’s birthday as a holiday.

Back in 1979, Coretta Scott King pushed for legislation that would make the holiday a reality, but the bill was defeated in the House by just five votes even with President Jimmie Carter’s support for the holiday. According to TIME Magazine, “Coretta continued her fight for approval of a national holiday, testifying before Congress several more times and mobilizing governors, mayors and city council members across the nation to make the passage of a King-holiday bill part of their agenda.”

Between 1980 and 1983, there was a fight in congress. Republican Senators John P. East and Jesse Helms of North Carolina did not support a King holiday, and Helms did not believe that King was worthy of “the same level as the father of our country and above the many other Americans whose achievements approach that of Washington’s.”

The irony of this is that Helms compared King, a civil rights activist, to a slave-owning planter. The two men led the charge in destroying King’s character. They associated him with communists and pushed allegations of sexual relationships with other women. Twitter users both Black and white are setting the record straight.

Many took the opportunity to take to the streets and spread the message publicly. In fact, groups nationwide began to hold marches as early as Friday.

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