We are celebrating the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a holiday on January 17th of this year. Appropriately, we hear great things about this man – but is there another side to him which is less flattering?
Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, the middle child of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. King’s father was born “Michael King”, and Martin Luther King, Jr., was originally named “Michael King, Jr.,” until the family traveled to Europe in 1934 and visited Germany. His father soon changed both of their names to Martin Luther King in honor of the German Protestant reformationist Martin Luther. This was a dubious honor, since Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a notorious anti-Semite with On the Jews and Their Lies (German: Von den Jüden und iren Lügen; in modern spelling Von den Juden und ihren Lügen) (1543).
Nevertheless, the author understands that one cannot blame a child for the mistakes of his parents.
Contrary to reasoning, or consistent with it, Martin Luther King, Jr. was initially a Republican, registering in the GOP in 1956 as all great blacks of the South – Jackie Robinson, Jessie Owens, Lionel Hampton, Edward Brooke, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Sowell, Harriet Tubman & Pearl Bailey. MLK, Jr. changed to the Democratic Party when the Republicans nominated Barry Goldwater, who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Serious criticism about King centers around three areas; plagiarism in his academic career and speeches, adultery & treatment of women, and Communist affiliations.
Plagiarism in Speeches – King’s efforts in civil rights activism led him to the 1963 “March on Washington”, where he delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech. There, he expanded American values to include his vision of a color-blind society and established his reputation as a great orator – but should he have this reputation?
King plagiarized the “I Have A Dream” speech from one given at the Republican Convention in 1952 given by Archibald J. Carey, Jr., an an African-American lawyer, judge, alderman, diplomat and clergyman from the south side of Chicago.
Carey’s speech spun off the words of the song “My Country ‘Tis of Thee – America”, the American patriotic song written by Samuel Francis Smith. There are no easily obtainable copies of the audio of his speech but the text of the ending is here:
We, Negro Americans, sing with all loyal Americans: My country ’tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, Land of the Pilgrims’ pride From every mountainside Let freedom ring!
That’s exactly what we mean – from every mountain side, let freedom ring. Not only from the Green Mountains and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire; not only from the Catskills of New York; but from the Ozarks in Arkansas, from the Stone Mountain in Georgia, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia–let it ring not only for the minorities of the United States, but for the disinherited of all the earth–may the Republican Party, under God, from every mountainside, LET FREEDOM RING!
King’s “I Have A Dream” speech can be heard here- compare:
Plagiarism in Academic Papers – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s wife, Coretta Scott King, donated her husband’s papers to Stanford University’s King Papers Project in 1985. As the papers were being organized and cataloged, project staff discovered that King’s doctoral dissertation at Boston University, A Comparison of the Conception of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman, included large sections from a dissertation written three years earlier by another student, Jack Boozer, at the same institution. Boston University launched its own probe and concluded the civil rights hero plagiarized major portions of his doctoral thesis from many other authors who wrote on the topic, including Boozer.
“Instances of textual appropriation can be seen in his earliest extant writings as well as his dissertation. The pattern is also noticeable in his speeches and sermons throughout his career,” writes Clayborne Carson, director of the King Papers Project at Stanford University.
According to civil rights historian Ralph E. Luker, who worked on the King Papers Project directing the research on King’s early life, King’s paper The Chief Characteristics and Doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism was taken almost entirely from secondary sources. He writes: “Moreover, the farther King went in his academic career, the more deeply ingrained the patterns of borrowing language without clear attribution became. Thus, the plagiarism in his dissertation seemed to be, by then, the product of his long-established practice.”
In a 1991 article in The Journal Of American History, the staff at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project wrote that “plagiarism was a general pattern evident in nearly all of his [King’s] academic writings,” including his doctoral dissertation.
Although several newspapers had the story for more than a year, none published it. Finally, in December 3, 1989, the London Sunday Telegraph broke the news with “Martin Luther King — Was He a Plagiarist?.” The Wall Street Journal followed up in the States in November 9, 1990 with “To Their Dismay, King Scholars Find a Troubling Pattern.” The story was then repeated in the Boston Globe and the New York Times, as well as several other newspapers with their own stories. Newspaper editorials across America defended King, saying he was still a great man regardless of his academic fraud.
You try that academic fraud and find anybody to laud you.
To this day, been no explanation of the long delay between the discovery and its publication.
Boston University considered revoking posthumously Dr. King’s Ph.D. but decided against it, saying that although King acted improperly, his dissertation still “makes an intelligent contribution to scholarship.” However, a letter is now attached to King’s dissertation in the university library, noting that numerous passages were included without the appropriate quotations and citations of sources.
Compare this with the way the academic establishment treated Clarence Thomas who was intellectually honest and faithful to his two wives!!!!
Ralph Luker has questioned whether King’s professors at the Crozer Theological Seminary held him to lower standards because he was an African-American, citing as evidence the fact that King received lower marks (a C+ average) at the historically black Morehouse College than at Crozer, where he was a minority being graded mostly by white teachers and received an A- average. Boston University has denied that King received any special treatment.
Do you believe it????
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project addresses authorship issues on pp. 25-26 of Volume II of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., entitled “Rediscovering Precious Values, July 1951–November 1955,” Clayborne Carson, Senior Editor. Following is an excerpt from these pages: “The readers of King’s dissertation, L. Harold DeWolf and S. Paul Schilling, a professor of systematic theology who had recently arrived at Boston University, failed to notice King’s problematic use of sources. After reading a draft of the dissertation, DeWolf criticized him for failing to make explicit “presuppositions and norms employed in the critical evaluation,” but his comments were largely positive. He commended King for his handling of a “difficult” topic “with broad learning, impressive ability and convincing mastery of the works immediately involved.” Schilling found two problems with King’s citation practices while reading the draft. “As was true of King’s other academic papers, the plagiaries in his dissertation escaped detection in his lifetime. The extent of King’s plagiaries suggests he knew that he was at least skirting academic norms”.
Communist Associations – FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had long been suspicious about potential influence of Communists in social movements such as labor unions and civil rights. Hoover directed the FBI to track King, and the SCLC, in 1957.
This was in no small part spurred by King and four others attending a May 1, 1957 meeting at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. The institution, founded in 1932 and still operating today, is billed as having “facilitated the great change in our society” of racial integration on its website.”During the 1950s and ’60s it trained civil rights workers in law, nonviolence, community organizing and other techniques of social change,” its website says.
However, the FBI correctly identified it as a Communist front which sought to bring about a Marxist revolution in America, having been founded by Myles Horton (Communist Party organizer for Tennessee) and Don West (Communist Party organizer for North Carolina). In speaking at the Highlander Folk School, King praised the school for its “noble purpose and creative work” and for having “given the South some of its most responsible leaders in this great period of transition.” He then predicted that, through concerted nonviolent action, “the future is filled with vast and marvelous possibilities” and concluded, “this is a great time to be alive.”
King was accompanied to the Highlander Folk School by Myles Horton, Aubrey Williams, Abner Berry and James Dumbrowski, all open and acknowledged members of the Communist Party, USA. Their meeting laid the groundwork for initiating demonstrations and riots across the Southern states.
In 1962, FBI investigators learned that one of King’s most trusted advisers was New York City lawyer Stanley Levison. The FBI found Levison had been involved with the Communist Party, USA. The FBI had observed his alienation from the Party leadership, but it feared he had taken a low profile in order to work as an “agent of influence” in order to manipulate King, a view it continued to hold despite its own reports in 1963 that Levison had left the Party. Another King lieutenant, Hunter Pitts O’Dell, was also linked to the Communist Party by sworn testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
The Bureau received authorization to proceed with wiretapping from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in the fall of 1963 and informed President John F. Kennedy, both of whom unsuccessfully tried to persuade King to dissociate himself from Levison. Although Robert Kennedy only gave written approval for limited wiretapping of King’s phones “on a trial basis, for a month or so”, Hoover extended the clearance so his men were “unshackled” to look for evidence in any areas of King’s life they deemed worthy. The Bureau placed wiretaps on Levison’s and King’s homes and office phones, and bugged King’s rooms in hotels and motels as he traveled across the country.
For his part, King adamantly denied having any connections to Communism, stating in a 1965 Playboy interview that, “there are as many Communists in this freedom movement as there are Eskimos in Florida” and claiming that Hoover was “following the path of appeasement of political powers in the South.” Hoover’s concern about communist infiltration of the civil rights movement was meant to “aid and abet the salacious claims of southern racists and the extreme right-wing elements.” In that same interview, however, King advocated that Blacks and other “disadvantaged” Americans be financially compensated for “historical wrongs.” According to Wikipedia, King set the bill at US$50 billion in 1965 dollars, and the amount be doled out to all people who have been disadvantaged, not only African-Americans.
Hoover did not believe King’s pledge of innocence and replied by saying the civil rights leader was “the most notorious liar in the country.” After giving his “I Have A Dream” speech during the August 28, 1963 March on Washington, the FBI described King as “the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country.”
In December 1963, the FBI stated King was “knowingly, willingly and regularly cooperating with and taking guidance from communists” whose long-term strategy was to create a “Negro-labor” coalition detrimental to American security. Levison did have ties with the Communist Party in the past in various business dealings, but the FBI refused to believe its own intelligence bureau reports that Levison was no longer associated in that capacity.
Bayard Rustin, an African-American Quaker and avowed homosexual and advocate on behalf of gay and lesbian causes, was a member of King’s circle and was a member of the Young Communist League, joining in 1936. In 1941, he became disillusioned with the CPUSA because it abandoned civil rights work in favor of trying to get the American government to aid the Soviet Union from German Nazi invasion. While Rustin began working with “anti-Communist Socialists” (an oxymoron) such as A. Philip Randolph, the head of the “Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters”, he later attended the 16th annual convention of SCLC in February 1957 and founded the SCLC with King a month later.
The SCLC was front-loaded with Communists as well. Its vice-president the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, who was also the president of an identified Communist front known as the Southern Conference Educational Fund. That group’s field director, Carl Braden, was simultaneously a national sponsor of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. The program director of the SCLC was the Reverend Andrew Young, who went on to become Jimmy Carter’s ambassador to the UN and mayor of Atlanta. Young was trained at the Highlander Folk School.
Despite all of this, by 1976 the FBI had acknowledged that it had not obtained any evidence that King himself or the SCLC were actually involved with any communist organizations.
Are there tolerable Communists? It’s up to you.
Adultery and treatment of women – Rumors of King’s use of church funds to feed his penchant for White prostitutes were circulating in very high circles long before they were made public. US President Lyndon Johnson once called King was a “hypocritical preacher.” Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who signed off on the wiretaps and hotel/motel room electronic surveillance of King, then played audio taped evidence of King’s extramarital affairs at cocktail parties, much to the delight of brothers Jack and Ted, who convulsed in fits of laughter upon hearing them.
Dr. Ralph Abernathy, a close associate of King, stated in his 1989 autobiography And the Walls Came Tumbling Down that King had a “weakness for women.” In a later interview, Abernathy said he only wrote the term “womanizing” and did not specifically say King had extramarital sex. King’s biographer David Garrow detailed what he called King’s “compulsive sexual athleticism,” writing about a number of extramarital affairs, including one with a woman King saw almost daily. According to Garrow, “that relationship, rather than his marriage, increasingly became the emotional centerpiece of King’s life, but it did not eliminate the other incidental couplings that were a commonplace of King’s travels.” King explained his extramarital affairs as “a form of anxiety reduction”. Garrow noted that King’s promiscuity was the cause of “painful and overwhelming guilt feelings.”
On January 31, 1977, United States district Judge John Lewis Smith, Jr., ordered all known copies of the recorded audiotapes and written transcripts resulting from the FBI’s electronic surveillance of King between 1963 and 1968 to be held in the National Archives and sealed from public access until 2027.
In closing, Dr. King seems to be an amalgam of good and bad. What the sum total is, I wait to see in the comments section. – Philoctetes