Certain parts of history are always distorted or left out when taught in elementary schools. We were taught that Thanksgiving was a legitimate historical event, that Abraham Lincoln was a fierce abolitionist and that the grievances expressed during the Civil Rights Movement were ones that the majority of Americans sympathized with.
Perhaps one of the biggest untruths taught in elementary schools is that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the Civil Rights Movement without any considerable pushback and that there was a small group of people that disagreed with him, but not too many.
This is an immense lie.
J. Edgar Hoover, who was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) amid the Civil Rights Movement, ordered surveillance on the civil rights activist hoping to prove that King was involved with communists. The FBI thought King to be such a detestable person that they wrote him a letter suggesting that he commit suicide or face dire consequences:
There’s never been any sign of a single government agency publicly addressing the war on the Civil Rights Movement.
“King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do … You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal, fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
This recent MLK day, instead of acknowledging the past or apologizing for the actions of those who preceded them, government officials and agencies like the CIA took to social media to honor the late activist. But there’s never been any sign of a single government agency publicly addressing the war on the Civil Rights Movement.
Many point to King as one of the reasons that the great battle against racism has been won. But the fact that the war waged against him has not been addressed is evidence to the contrary.
King’s legacy has been misconstrued as a result of important facts about his character and his views being withheld. As a public figure, King has been simplified, suppressed and underrepresented. On MLK Day, in response to a tweet by President Trump honoring the late activist, commentator Jacob Wohl made a series of tweets.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been a Trump Supporter. Never for that! Martin Luther King wasn’t hunted down and taunted by Republicans—those were Democrats. The Democrat Party is the party of the KKK.”
King’s legacy shouldn’t be misrepresented and people shouldn’t deny history, or distort it in their favor.
None of these claims are true. Firstly, King was repeatedly noted to be drawn to the more radical idealisms of democratic-socialism— ideas that Trump and the Republican party would never associate themselves with.
Secondly, the Republican and Democratic parties virtually switched after the civil rights era. The Democrats who were likely members of the KKK were called “Dixiecrats,” and left the Democratic party during the civil rights era for the Republican party— and helped mold it into what it is today.
King was arguably the most ambitious and influential pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement, but that does not mean he was loved by everyone. He was attacked— the same way the Black Panther Party was during their tenure— and accused of being a conspirator by the very government that celebrates him today. King’s legacy shouldn’t be misrepresented and people shouldn’t deny history, or distort it in their favor.
With neighborhoods in certain cities still being highly segregated and obvious disparities in high-income and low-income education continuing to exist, it’s clear that King’s “dream” hasn’t yet been fulfilled although great strides have been made. We shouldn’t undermine his legacy to make it seem like it has been.
Photo courtesy of ABC News