Martin Luther King & the Republican Legacy of Civil Rights


“I think the authors of that notable instrument [the Declaration of Independence] intended to include all men.”  —Abraham Lincoln

Was Dr. King a Republican?

Wikipedia reports that, “according to Fox News, Alveda King has ‘long argued’ that Dr. [Martin Luther] King was a Republican.  She later blogged that MLK was politically independent.”

Indeed, it does appear that Martin Luther King, Jr., like his father before him, was a Republican, although he may not have voted consistently Republican with every election cycle.  He did, however, testify before fellow Republicans in San Francisco, in order to influence the 1964 Republican platform with regard to civil rights legislation.  It appears, however, that King may have taken issue with Barry Goldwater’s political position that the Constitution already guaranteed Equal Protection and that the federal government should leave to the sovereign states how civil rights should be enforced.


One of the great false narratives of our time is that Barry Goldwater was racist and that, by extension, all conservative Republicans are racist.  This assertion is an unfair stereotype that simply holds no validity whatsoever.  Although Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the reason was because he had problems with Title II and Title VII of the act—which sponsored federal interference in the hiring and firing decisions of private businesses, as well as whom they might sell their goods and services to.  Goldwater feared the creation of a police state from the legislation which might eventually come back to haunt all Americans, no matter their race or ethnicity.

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Goldwater actively fought racism, segregation, and other forms of bigotry in his home state of Arizona.  And he was an advocate of private groups sponsoring boycotts against racist businesses, seeing this kind of citizen action as superior to federal dictates, since it preserved the private sphere for the people.  Goldwater supported the integration of the Arizona National Guard and was an active member of the NAACP and the Urban League.

But, even though Goldwater and the Republicans were strong advocates of civil rights, the Democrats smeared Goldwater and his fellow Republicans as bigots, misrepresenting his Constitutionalist position; and they did this with the help of left-wing press.  This smear against conservative Republicans has continued in the American press, unabated.  But Republicans do not deserve the smear, since black Americans vote freely today, largely due to repeated Republican support for black voting rights.  In fact, the Republican Party created the first civil rights and voting rights laws in America, after the American Civil War, only to see the Democrats repeal all of them after the election of 1892!

The Ku Klux Klan: Democrat Terrorists

In 1892, the Democrats were a pretty racist lot.  It was in 1865 that the Ku Klux Klan was created in Pulaski, Tennessee, by the Democrats, who wished to form a terrorist enforcement arm to instill fear in black Southerners and their Republican supporters.  Indeed, the Texas Republican Party was founded mainly by blacks in 1867.  These black Southerners were colorblind and wanted their party to welcome everyone.  Twenty white people immediately joined.  Throughout the South, other blacks followed the example of black Texans and started Republican Party branches to oppose the racist Democrats and their KKK.

Fast Forward to the 1960s

When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, 65% of Democrats voted for the legislation under pressure from President Johnson.  80% of Republicans voted for the law.  (Republicans opposing the act, among them Goldwater, did so because of the wording of Title II and Title VII).  Senator Robert Byrd, a Democrat and an ex-Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, filibustered the bill in an act of defiance.

When the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed, it was with a great deal of help by Republicans.  It saw 94% of the GOP support it, but only 71% of Democrats.  Finally, Republicans could celebrate the restoration of the voting rights that they had originally approved for blacks a century earlier, before the Democrats had repealed them.  But this true history of Republicans supporting civil rights more than Democrats—even in the passage of the ’64 and ’65 acts—has all been rewritten by a corrupt media.

Flashback to Lincoln’s Advocacy of a Colorblind Society

President Lincoln, the first Republican president, issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.  In 1865, he secured passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery for all time.  100% of Lincoln Republicans voted for the amendment.  Only 23% of Democrats voted for it, and many of them had to be coerced.

In 1868, the 14th Amendment gave African Americans full civil rights, guaranteeing terms of equality that restrained the Democrat-run South from abridging those rights.  Every voting Republican voted for this law, while not a single Democrat voted for it.

The 15th Amendment was passed when many Democrat-run states tried to thwart the 14th Amendment by blocking voting rights.  Once again, every Republican voted for the amendment; every Democrat voted no.

The Democrats Cancel Equal Rights for Blacks

Until 1875, the Republicans in Congress passed and enforced appropriate civil rights measures to ensure the rights of all black Americans.  In 1876, however, Democrats won control of the House of Representatives and blocked further Republican reforms.  In 1892, Democrats also took control of the Senate and the White House.  Then, the Democrats proceeded to repeal all the civil rights laws the Republicans had passed.  Until this happened, the GOP was on the road to bringing about the colorblind society envisioned by Lincoln and the Republican founders of America’s rebirth subsequent to the Civil War.

With Democrats in charge, Southern states began to pass Jim Crow laws without federal opposition.  Blacks would now be subjected to literacy tests to qualify for their civil rights and would be subjected to unaffordable poll taxes.  Racist officials also withheld from blacks the permits needed to carry firearms for self-defense.  How many lynchings might have been prevented, had blacks been allowed to protect themselves?

Truman Changes Some Minds

Although President Harry Truman changed the minds of many blacks, when he began the desegregation of the armed forces, receiving 77% of the Black vote in 1952, Senator John Kennedy and other Democrats voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.  After becoming president, Kennedy (who needed the electoral sympathy of Southern Democrats to remain popular) also opposed Dr. King’s 1963 March on Washington.  But Kennedy was assassinated, leaving Johnson, who wanted to pass civil rights legislation to secure black votes, in charge of the presidency.  Not a fan of black people or of civil rights, Johnson was, indeed, a fan of obtaining the black vote.

The GOP: Still Colorblind After All These Years

To this day, Republicans continue to favor colorblind policy-making that is based on the Golden Rule, as is the US Constitution.   Contrary to Progressive media propaganda, Republican conservatives believe in the exact opposite of racism, and the Party of Lincoln remains committed to the notion of Liberty and Justice for All.

The current state of affairs in America, however, is such that not every American is treated the same.  When black racist groups, such as Black Lives Matter, demonize individuals who say “all lives matter” as being the ones who are racist, despite the fact that “all lives matter” is a principled statement based on the Golden Rule, that only goes to show that our nation is no longer united behind a unified belief in the Golden Rule and the principle of Equal Protection for All.  Valuing and helping all Americans equally, in preparation for life’s challenges, is the ethic which is needed, rather than the unequal valuing of some groups’ lives over those of other groups.

Dr. King dreamed of a world devoted to the Golden Rule, as laid out in the Declaration of Independence by Mr. Jefferson, saying “this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”  King would not have approved of a group like Black Lives Matter, although he may have approved of one called All Lives Matter.  Indeed, BLM’s goal of assassinating white police officers runs counter to King’s dream of a world where “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers,” for, if the black parents are murdering the white parents, what kind of hope are they modeling to their little boys and girls?  What kind of world are they building for us to live in?  Surely, a world in keeping with the views of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King would be a better vision for all of us.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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