“Reflections on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Dr. T. Hasan Johnson

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” -Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was at one point the most hated man in America, despite how he has been recast in the public imagination. I posted this piece just to point out that despite his greatness, he was still a Black male, and still seen as a threat. According to Democracy Now!, “It was 50 years ago today that FBI Director [and founder] J. Edgar Hoover made headlines by calling Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the ‘most notorious liar in the country.'” But this perspective wasn’t limited to the establishment, but a good portion of the populace. Slate.com cites a Gallup survey detailing the hatred…

King hated


In a letter sent to King (via one of Hoover’s deputies, William Sullivan) would threaten to expose King’s infidelities. In America’s outdated Victorian-era moral politics, somehow his sexual exploits invalidate the veracity of his political assertions and a lifelong amount of activism, working to bring justice to millions of oppressed people.


Here, King is subject to stereotypes already popular for Black males: hypersexuality. And although these assertions against King may be true, it is especially effective in dismantling King’s validity in many people’s eyes simply because as a Black male, sexual voracity is not only unscrupulous, but potentially violent. Such negativity makes King a degenerate and a potential rapist, but only because of centuries-old controlling images that suggest that at his core, all Black men are essentially so. King has earned his respect, and the only people that should be able to dismiss him should be his family…

Nevertheless, alongside this sexually-racist attack on King, there is evidence to suggest that King was assassinated with the assistance of the U.S. government. Coretta Scott-King, wife of the slain activist said,

There is abundant evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. And the civil court’s unanimous verdict has validated our belief. I wholeheartedly applaud the verdict of the jury and I feel that justice has been well served in their deliberations. This verdict is not only a great victory for my family, but also a great victory for America. It is a great victory for truth itself. It is important to know that this was a SWIFT verdict, delivered after about an hour of jury deliberation. The jury was clearly convinced by the extensive evidence that was presented during the trial that, in addition to Mr. Jowers, the conspiracy of the Mafia, local, state and federal government agencies, were deeply involved in the assassination of my husband.The jury also affirmed overwhelming evidence that identified someone else, not James Earl Ray, as the shooter, and that Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame. I want to make it clear that my family has no interest in retribution. Instead, our sole concern has been that the full truth of the assassination has been revealed and adjudicated in a court of law. As we pursued this case, some wondered why we would spend the time and energy addressing such a painful part of the past. For both our family and the nation, the short answer is that we had to get involved because the system did not work. Those who are responsible for the assassination were not held to account for their involvement. This verdict, therefore, is a great victory for justice and truth. It has been a difficult and painful experience to revisit this tragedy, but we felt we had an obligation to do everything in our power to seek the truth. Not only for the peace of mind of our family but to also bring closure and healing to the nation. We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.

In other words, unchecked Black masculinity is a threat to the State, especially from the man leading a national Poor People’s Campaign, which sought to unite poor Black, Latino, and White workers.Thus even his death is fraught with controversy. Judge Joe Brown weighed in recently arguing that he almost judged the case, and purports that James Earl Rey was part of the conspiracy, but not necessarily the shooter.

Part of the reason he was assassinated was because he began to sound much more like his ideological opponent–Malcolm X, who was assassinated five years prior to his own death (just as he would start pushing for reparations).

Unchecked Black masculinity is a threat because when linked to an emphasis on intelligence and historical awareness, the resulting rage cannot be rationally opposed. If articulated to the “World Court,” otherwise known as the United Nations (as Malcolm sought to do), it could only condemn America’s treatment of the Black community. That is, unless the U.S. successfully bullied and/or bought off enough countries’ to curtail international support for Malcolm.

This is ultimately why such masculinities have been sought out for elimination. Culturally, intellectually, academically, conventionally, and otherwise, politicized, radical Black masculinities of all sexual practices have been cautiously opposed and dissuaded. Even gay Black men are only depicted in media as being hypersexual and humorously effeminate–but never politically conscious. 


Even in the media industry, the manufacturing engine and arbiter for which ideas are generally considered worthy of general consideration, unchecked Black masculinity is feared and unwelcome. Chris Rock states this unequivocally in his letter regarding racism in Hollywood: “They don’t really hire black men. A black man with bass in his voice and maybe a little hint of facial hair? Not going to happen.”

I humbly ask, that if you are a Black male, that you develop your voice, and allow your anger at injustice to be unchecked…un-tempered…and unapologetic. There have been far too many who have sacrificed for it to be so…least of which is Dr. King.

Rest in power, sir. You are appreciated…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.