Monday, July 07, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr. Was A Republican?

The Raw Story | Billboards Claim Rev. King Was Republican

TALLAHASSEE - A black Republican group has put up billboards in Florida and South Carolina saying the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican, a claim that black leaders say is ridiculous.

The National Black Republican Association has paid for billboards showing an image of the civil rights leader and the words "Martin Luther King Jr. was REPUBLICAN." Told about the billboards, the Rev. Joseph Lowery let out a soft chuckle that grew stronger as he began to think more about the idea.

"These guys never give up, do they?" said Lowery, who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with King. "Lord have mercy."

Seven billboards have gone up in six Florida counties, and another in Orangeburg, S.C., said Frances Rice, the Republican group's chairwoman. Part of its mission is to highlight what she said is the Democratic Party's racist past.

"I knew the King family well. We were all Republicans," said Rice, 64. "There was no way Dr. King would have wanted to be in the party of the Ku Klux Klan."

Her assertion angered state Rep. Joe Gibbons, a Democrat who chairs the Florida Legislative Black Caucus.

"Nobody knew who was leading the Ku Klux Klan, they had sheets over their heads. Was she at the cross burning meetings?" Gibbons said with a disgust that was just as strong when he talked about the billboards. "To make a statement like that is ridiculous. To make a claim without presenting proof is bogus."

The King Center in Atlanta says there is no proof that King was ever a Republican. Rice stands by her claim.

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