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Does Martin Luther King Jr.’s Alleged Hypocrisy Outweigh His Contribution To The Civil Rights Movement?

Despite Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight against discrimination in the 1960s, a current report stated that a secret FBI recording depicted the civil rights activist having an affair with 40 women and watching a pastor sexually assaulting another.

Meant to be opened in 2027, the tapes were disclosed—holding recordings from King’s hotel rooms in the 1960s. The bugs were situated in the rooms because King’s aide, Stanley Levison, was accused of being a Communist.

According to Stanford’s Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, the tapes were part of an FBI surveillance project to destroy the reputation of King. They wanted to acquire negative information that would potentially discredit him. It was also revealed that the former FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, was driven to undermine King.

A memo found with the tape revealed that King “looked on and laughed” as a pastor of Baltimore’s Cornerstone Baptist Church sexually assaulted a woman in the hotel room. In addition, The Times wrote that the FBI documents recorded King having a discussion stating that “women among the parishioners would be suitable for natural and unnatural sex acts.”

The Times stated when women didn’t want to engage in sexual activity, King and his friends agreed how they should be taught respect. “King told her to perform such an act would ‘help your soul.’”

With the controversial occurrence, there is no doubt that people will be filled with abhorrence and resentment on King. But do the leaked recordings outweigh his contribution to the civil rights movement?

Martin Luther King Jr. extraordinarily left a prominent legacy that rightfully aided equality for all Americans, regardless of race. Evidently, his vision of fairness changed the perspectives of our nation today.

In history, Dr. King was the most imperative speaker of the American civil rights movement who fought for everyone’s rights. He was known for exercising diplomatic confrontation to overcome prejudice, and he never got weary of banishing segregation laws.

These regulations prohibited blacks from entering particular areas, such as restaurants, hotels and public schools. Furthermore, he did his best to help every single individual to understand that “all men are created equal.”

Photo via Zinn Education Project

Due to his influential effort, King acquired the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Although he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, at the age of 39, he is greatly remembered currently as one of the civil rights leader who efficiently shaped our nation.

More than 50 years after Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” delivery, it still residues a cry for liberty that has been accepted by advocates around the world, from Tiananmen Square to the West Bank. However, in order to fully appreciate the importance of King’s 1963 speech at the March on Washington, we must primarily apprehend the context of its conveyance.

King conversed of an America whose black populace was “sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.” He intentionally portrayed his words with images of slavery. President Abraham Lincoln had delivered the Emancipation Proclamation a century earlier, but the Jim Crow laws, which authorized ethnic isolation, were still in full potency throughout the South.

Just 10 weeks before King’s speech, Governor George Wallace had endeavored to obstruct two African American pupils from registering at the University of Alabama. Afterwards, President John F. Kennedy even had to direct the National Guard to make the governor stand low.

Temporarily, the civil-rights movement was prospering throughout the country. Calm sit-ins and boycotts, like Rosa Parks’ situation, had relinquished to vehement combat by 1963, as seen in the Birmingham rebellion of May.

Photo via The Progressive

As King noted in his speech, these “whirlwinds of revolt,” constructed by revolts and belligerent protests, gusted through 100 towns and cities nationwide. Nonetheless, Dr. King’s courage and conscientious mind didn’t prevent him from standing up for the Black Americans.

Many people attempt to emulate Martin Luther King Jr.’s virtues in the ordinary events and circumstances of his own personal life by standing up against discrimination and segregation. Although it lessened throughout the years through intense modification of certain regulations, there are innocent people who still get physically and psychologically hurt by their race and skin color. The black people in our preceding history greatly suffered a lot, and it is inevitable that no one wants a repetition of that dreadful happening.

As the positive impact King had on the civil rights movement contrasts with his hypocritical actions, it is up to the society to judge on whether which side outweighs the other.

Photo: Stephen F. Somerstein

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