Was Martin Luther King A Republican ?

There are many people who are confused about whether or not Martin Luther King was a Republican.


As the leader of the SCLC, Martin Luther King maintained a policy of not publicly endorsing a U.S. political party or candidate: "I feel someone must remain in the position of non-alignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both - not the servant or master of either."

In a 1958 interview, King expressed his opinion that neither political party was perfect, claiming: "I don't think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses ... And I'm not inextricably bound to either party."

King criticized both parties' performance on promoting racial equality: "Actually, the Negro has been betrayed by both the Republican and the Democratic party. The Democrats have betrayed him by capitulating to the whims and caprices of the Southern Dixiecrats. The Republicans have betrayed him by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of reactionary right wing northern Republicans. And this coalition of southern Dixiecrats and right wing reactionary northern Republicans defeats every bill and every move towards liberal legislation in the area of civil rights."

Although King never publicly supported a political party or candidate for president, in a letter to a civil rights supporter in October 1956 he revealed that he was unsure as to whether he would vote for Adlai Stevenson or Dwight Eisenhower, but that "In the past I always voted the Democratic ticket."

In his autobiography, King claims that in 1960 he privately voted for Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy: "I felt that Kennedy would make the best president. I never came out with an endorsement. My father did, but I never made one." King adds that he likely would have made an exception to his non-endorsement policy for a second Kennedy term, stating: "Had President Kennedy lived, I would probably have endorsed him in 1964."

It has to be noted that King's father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Sr.,  was a longtime Republican when most Southern Democrats were segregationists, but supported John F. Kennedy publicly in the 1960 presidential race over Republican Richard M. Nixon.

What is confusing about King's political beliefs is a statement made by his niece, Alveda C. King, a founder of the group King for America: "My uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., during his lifetime, was a Republican." 

On the other hand, in a 2008 Associated Press story, King's son and namesake Martin Luther King III was quoted as saying:"It is disingenuous to imply that my father was a Republican. He never endorsed any presidential candidate, and there is certainly no evidence that he ever even voted for a Republican. It is even more outrageous to suggest he would support the Republican Party of today, which has spent so much time and effort trying to suppress African American votes in Florida and many other states."

Honey, who edited a collection of King's speeches "All Labor Has Dignity," released in 2011, claimed the idea that King was a Republican is "laughable...His interest was in getting both parties to do the right thing on issues. The Democrats certainly disappointed him on the (Vietnam) war, and the Republicans had an orthodox conservatism opposed to most of the changes he wanted to see."

PolitiFact Texas interviewed David J. Garrow, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning King biography "Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference" (1986). He revealed:  "It is simply incorrect to call Dr. King a Republican."

What do you think? Was Martin Luther King a Republican?

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