“The One Thing No One Seems to Want to Remember is How Much Opposition There Was to King”

David Futrelle reminds us that Martin Luther King, Jr. faced plenty of violence, frenzied opposition, and attacks by police and public. Sometimes, we recall the speeches without recalling the chaos. We hear “civil disobedience” and “non-violent opposition,” and forget that those opposed to civil rights used the power of state and terror in an effort to maintain white supremacy.

We should never forget that he didn’t back down in the face of those arrests and attacks. We should never forget his work isn’t finished.

It takes a lot of courage to change the world.

Image shows MLK Jr. in a pale suit and hat, sitting at a counter, surrounded by police.
AP photo of Martin Luther King Jr. getting arrested for loitering, Montgomery, AL, 1958.
“The One Thing No One Seems to Want to Remember is How Much Opposition There Was to King”

2 thoughts on ““The One Thing No One Seems to Want to Remember is How Much Opposition There Was to King”

  1. 1

    Even the racist asshats like to think of King as the ‘nice nigger’. And yes, I actually heard someone say that. No it wasn’t 1972, this would have been around 2008, in Wichita, KS. :-(

    I was too flabbergasted to say anything, and was still pondering whether they were being sarcastic or serious as they walked away.

  2. AMM

    I can’t say I was a big MLK fan back when he was alive. I was only 12 when he did the March on Washington, and I grew up in a fairly reactionary state, so I believed what everyone else around me did. I do remember that most, if not all of the political leaders and talking heads (not just the Southern ones) were saying what a dangerous radical he was and how he was a communist and intent upon destroying the country. During the lead-up to the March on Washington, there was widespread speculation (and not just by the reactionary fringe) that they would riot and wreck Washington. And when he came out against the Vietnam War, at a time when the majority of USAans believed that not supporting the war was treason, people used that as justification for saying he had no business leading the Civil Rights movement (not that they had been in favor of the movement in the first place.)

    When I bring this up nowadays, I’m always amazed how many people tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about, that of course most people (or at least most of the people who counted) saw him as a hero and supported him. What they can’t explain is, if so many people supported him and his cause, why did he have to go and march and get arrested in the first place?

    From where I sit, the only reason people now call him a hero is because they’ve whited out most of what he actually said and did. If he were alive today, I suspect he’d be seen as just as dangerous and extreme as he was 50 years ago.

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