Paul Gaston: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s controversial views often glossed over, experts say

Source: Miami Herald, 1-23-11

A symposium last week at the University of Virginia on the private writings and conversations of Martin Luther King Jr. turned into a pointed debate on the image of the slain civil rights leader conveyed during his January holiday.

“It’s terribly important to emphasize the political and economic nature of King’s life in the last three years – it was a much more economically, politically radical message that he left in the last three years of his life,” said Paul Gaston, a history professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. “I wish this part of his legacy had not been airbrushed out of history, which I think it has been.”

As the nation honors King this month, some academics, historians and even King associates say the story of his dream for America is a tale half told. They lament that, to the public, King has been boiled down to feel-good sound bites from his Aug. 28, 1963, “I Have a Dream” speech and photo-ops of elected officials performing community service on his national holiday.

Glossed over and rarely discussed, they say, are King’s controversial economic philosophy of social justice and his strong stance against the Vietnam War, which earned him scorn in many circles and a cold shoulder from then-President Lyndon Johnson, who had championed the 1964 Civil Rights Act that outlawed racial segregation….READ MORE

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