Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
by Claude E. Pope Jr.
On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began his remarkable address in front of the Lincoln Monument by praising the man in whose “symbolic shadow” he stood: Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President of the United States.
Speaking of the Emancipation Proclamation, he said, “This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice.”
Martin Luther King was a Republican in spirit and in registration.
Then, he praised the founders of America, for their vision of inalienable rights for all people.
Martin Luther King was a patriot.
In the body of his speech, he decried the sad state of equality for black people, and recited a litany of their contemporary sufferings. As you read that list, it is perfectly clear that each and every example he cited, from the deep south to “the slums and ghettos of our northern cities,” came from an area where the Democrat Party ruled with little more than token opposition.
Big city bosses and white supremacist southern politicians, Democrats all, kept the lives of black Americans “sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”
“Negroes,” he said, lived “on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” But then he warned his followers against “drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.” He warned them they “must not lead us to a distrust of all white people…[because] their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.”
King then began the rhetorically brilliant series of “I have a dream…” statements. His dream, he said, was “deeply rooted in the American dream.” How sad it is that so many of today’s so-called civil rights leaders reject the American dream altogether, in favor of a socialist fantasy urged on them by the modern Democratic Party, and degraded with quotas, entitlements and the mentality of victimization.
The most famous component of Dr. King’s dream was when he said, “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.”
Republicans applauded that sentiment then, and now. We have forged a record we can be proud of in implementing it, from Lincoln’s time, to Dr. King’s time, to our time. The Democrats went to war over it in 1860, filibustered it in 1964, and reject it to this day.
The core principles of the Republican Party mirror those of Dr. King. As we always have, we embrace all people regardless of color, and endorse laws and institutions that do not discriminate against any human. We invite African Americans to “come home” to the Republican Party.
Here in North Carolina, that invitation has special meaning. In the 1890’s, decades after reconstruction was dead in most of the old Confederacy, a bi-racial Republican Party was active and successful, electing several blacks to Congress, the state Legislature and other offices. But a vicious campaign by Democrat white supremacists, led by long-serving Democratic Senator Furnifold M. Simmons and the Raleigh News and Observer eventually defeated the coalition of Republicans and populists that had been so successful.
As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King and his message of inclusion, let us honor his memory by continuing to strive for his ideals.
Claude E. Pope, Jr.
Chairman – Wake County Republican Party
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