Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan AFP/Getty Images

It was more than fitting that President Obama's second inauguration fell on the national day of celebration for Martin Luther King Jr., Earl Ofari Hutchinson writes at his blog. After all, he says, Obama knows that King is a big reason for his political success.

… Then Democratic presidential candidate Obama first publicly expressed deep gratitude to King and the civil rights movement in a speech in Selma, Alabama in March, 2007. He's referenced King many times since then.

An accurate, but often overlooked read of King's legacy was not just his monumental fight against racial segregation. King was also a masterful political analyst and strategist. He recognized that winning battles against segregation was much easier than breaking the strangle hold of Jim Crow political disempowerment. White political domination and black political disfranchisement were the twin cornerstones to maintain economic and social segregation for a near century. If blacks in the South and elsewhere could not vote, they could not hold political office. If they could not hold political office, they would have absolutely no chance to change the rigid laws that entrenched segregation.  

King understood that ultimately the battle for political enfranchisement didn't solely entail challenging the dominance of bigoted white Southern politicians. He also had to challenge the Democratic and Republican parties nationally. He led massive protest marches at both the 1960 Democratic convention and Republican conventions. He did more. He also put forth a pointed agenda for civil rights to both conventions demanding an end to Jim Crow restrictions on voting in the South.


Read Earl Ofari Hutchinson's entire piece at the Hutchinson Report News.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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