The Only Good Civil Rights Leader is a Dead One
Posted by Jack Stephens on October 14, 2007
David Schraub blogs:
Many contemporary anti-racism activists have expressed frustration in the way MLK–and indeed, the entire 60s civil rights movement–has been “neutered” so as to mask just how radical and revolutionary its agenda was (and, by extension, how far short we fell from achieving it). I’ve noticed, along with this, a meme that floats around the conservative right that tries to split the “good” civil rights activists of the 60s, whose cause was laudable and just (though not, it’s worth noting, during the 60s themselves, as anyone who has read National Review articles from that time knows) from the next generation of Black leaders, who are charlatans and “race-baiters.” Dr. King is the emblem of the former group, and perhaps its only political member; virtually no other civil rights pioneer of that era gets similar treatment. Dr. King serves as an apt model because he is quite conveniently dead, and thus unable to take positions that might be inopportune for his more conservative supporters. Had he not been assassinated, I firmly believe that White America would not have accorded King his current valorized status, for the precise reason that it would have been that much more difficult to mythologize his legacy if he was alive to contest it.