Forebears of today’s right-wingers generally hated Martin Luther King
There’s something ironic — perhaps hypocritical, as well — in the fact that so many of today’s conservatives hold up Martin Luther King Jr. as a worthy example of black American citizenship.
It wasn’t that way back when I marched with King in Chicago, New York and Washington in the 1960s. Back then, right-wingers hated King, and white folks in general disapproved of him and the movement he led.
Gallup polls conducted in the 1960s usually showed that most whites thought blacks had little good reason to constantly complain about their lot — which, by the way, was one of far greater segregation than we see today.
Whenever violent civil unrest arose in the ’60s, whites often blamed it on King for having stirred things up. He always preached non-violence, but his white critics didn’t want to hear his complaints about the outrageous treatment black people had to endure. Many whites felt that King and other black “agitators” were pushing too fast and too hard for racial justice.
(Check THIS STORY, for examples.)
Mind you, these attitudes among whites were not confined to the American South.
On the night King was assassinated in April of 1968, I had occasion to meet with a few friends at a bar in downtown Freeport, my hometown. The place was packed, owing mainly to a Masonic function at a temple in the next block up the street. The overall mood was celebratory.
“The head nigger,” as one of the louts put it, “is dead.”