What’s The Real Legacy of MLK?

MLK’s legacy today rests with conservatives, not liberals.

Sitting in a cell in the Birmingham city jail nearly 53 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King penned one of the most famous essays of the civil rights movement.  It was in the form of a letter written to a group of clergymen who expressed their distaste for the kind of “direct action” in which King engaged.

King knew he was going to jail. It wasn’t a surprise. He brought what he needed with him, and planned his letter carefully. He also spent much time in prayer.

In answering his critics deploration of his visit to Birmingham, and their description of him as an outside agitator, King wrote:

…I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Hardly an hour would pass that Dr. King would not make reference or direct appeal to his Savior and King, Jesus.  I challenge anyone to find a reference to Dr. King’s body of writing and speaking in which he was not engaged in proclaiming the Gospel.  Dr. King’s frame of reference for social justice in race relations was single-eyed:  through the lens of Biblical morality, and only through that lens.

Seeing the state of racial division and relations today, King would be much more critical of those who take advantage of African-American life choices and culture for their own gain, than some in the Senate like Cory Booker have been about Jeff Sessions nomination as attorney general. He would be proud that America elected an African-American president, but saddened that the progress of the last 40 years has been denied in order to advance other progressive goals he never shared.

He would not grant his legacy to today’s Democrats. He would, however, almost surely grant it to those fighting the battle to protect the unborn, and those who stand for religious freedom, and with Israel. In other words, MLK’s legacy today rests with conservatives, not liberals.

Most of today’s crop of social justice fighters, even those like John Lewis who in his day identified with MLK, have become simply political race-baiters. They don’t place the focus on God which King knew was necessary to heal racial division.

It is easy to apply one litmus test for anyone claiming a contemporary mandate of MLK’s legacy. Simply look at their view on Israel and the Jews.

MLK didn’t subscribe to today’s “linked causes” somehow making Israel into a racist nation, because King more identified with Jews, as God’s chosen people. King advocated religious freedom, something today’s Democrats hold in contempt.

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.” It was “illegal” to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers. If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s antireligious laws.

As a minister of the Gospel, MLK would oppose the redefinition of Biblical marriage.  King believed in strong family, strong faith, and a strong God.  He was hardly a statist, in fact, King was an anti-statist.  He believed that the state’s possession of too much power empowers those who wish to subvert freedom while squelching the aspirations of the oppressed.

King would be appalled at the suppression of religious freedom, the virtual lynch mobs and blacklists, being employed today by the LGBT agenda’s leaders and their followers. But the biggest legacy of MLK today is the scourge (especially targeted toward African-Americans) of abortion.

Were King writing today, it would probably be from a jail cell because there are laws that suspend free speech near an abortion clinic.  There are clergy who avoid the issue in order to preserve, or build, their own influence. But the main reason that Dr. King would take up the cause of stopping abortion is that the unborn are the ultimate oppressed citizens with no voice.

Take the sentence “If today I lived in a Communist country where certain principles dear to the Christian faith are suppressed, I would openly advocate disobeying that country’s anti religious laws” and remove the word “Communist”.  That’s today’s America.

Dr. King’s social justice remained anchored in his faith, and inseparable from his belief in Christian values.  Nothing is more dear to the Christian faith than the preservation of life.  The legal slaughter of the unborn is the one issue which is indisputable as the true heir to King’s spirit.

I know that Dr. King, in 1966, received Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger award, and accepted it with a speech.  Nowhere in this speech did he advocate abortion, but he did advocate family planning, and the elimination of black poverty as a means of reducing the number of neglected children.

Two points emerge here. The first is that in 1966, Planned Parenthood wasn’t completely about abortion as it is today. Abortion was illegal then. Yes, they were fighting for its legalization, but nowhere near the “anytime, any reason” butchery of today. But the underlying eugenics was always there.

Second, King didn’t personally deliver the speech. His wife did. It’s unfortunate that the country’s largest abortion mill claims possession of Dr. King’s blessing because of a 1966 speech. Here’s one passage from the speech.

The Negro constitutes half the poor of the nation. Like all poor, Negro and white, they have many unwanted children. This is a cruel evil they urgently need to control. There is scarcely anything more tragic in human life than a child who is not wanted. That which should be a blessing becomes a curse for parent and child. There is nothing inherent in the Negro mentality which creates this condition. Their poverty causes it.

He also wrote in the same speech,

For these reasons we are natural allies of those who seek to inject any form of planning in our society that enriches life and guarantees the right to exist in freedom and dignity. [emphasis mine]

I don’t think King had unrestricted, universal abortion in mind when he wrote that (I’m sure he didn’t have same-sex marriage in mind either).

Were he alive today, Dr. King would condemn the very same organization which awarded him an “honor” in 1966.  He would be writing from a jail cell, maybe in Massachusetts, or another state where civil rights are violated for pro-life supporters.

This leads to a rather inconvenient conclusion for liberals.

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday today, we should recognize that today, he would be much more aligned with Dr. Ben Carson, Thomas Sowell, and other conservatives than Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his congregant Barack Obama, or Rep. John Lewis.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

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