The GOP's Failure to Honor Martin Luther King Jr.

GOP House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) attends a recent news conference. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
GOP House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) attends a recent news conference. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The conspicuous failure of Republicans to pay homage to Martin Luther King Jr. this week reveals precisely where African Americans rank in the party's pecking order and highlights the nation's widening racial chasm, Jonathan P. Hicks writes at BET.

There was one group curiously absent from the memorializing: Republicans. 

Not one GOP figure attended the event at the Lincoln Memorial. There was no sign of House Speaker John Boehner or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Absent, too, was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. There was not a Bush in sight, not even the politically ambitious Jeb. Not even the lone Black member of the Senate, Tim Scott of South Carolina, took the time to join the group on the mall to honor the Dr. King's legacy.

It's fascinating that the party that, in the aftermath of the 2012 president election, admitted the importance of reaching out to African-American and other non-white voters would essentially declare the King event off-limits.

After all, Dr. King was not the least bid steeped in the politics of his time: He sought to appeal to the moral conscience of Republicans as well as Democrats, having as much faith — and distrust — in each party. His widow maintained close relationships with the various presidents, irrespective of party. And it was, after all, Republican icon Ronald Reagan, who signed into law the official U.S. holiday known as Martin Luther King Jr. Day …

But more importantly, the absence of Republicans reveals precisely where African-American citizens rank in the GOP pecking order. It reveals in stark clarity that they long less for ways to attract Black voters than they pine for an era where Black voters were irrelevant politically.


Read Jonathan P. Hicks' entire piece at BET.

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