Monday is Martin Luther King Day, and in the social media era, it’s been a common occurance for individuals, political movements, and brands to quote Dr. King — or use his legacy in ways that the legendary civil rights leader may not have approved.
Someone else has noticed this tendency: Dr. King’s youngest daughter, Bernice King.
“Many who quote him now would have hated him then,” Bernice wrote on her Twitter account Sunday night. “He was assassinated for trying to eradicate the evils some claim he’d support today. But he was a Christ-centered, love-fueled, justice-seeking, peacemaking, globally-minded, nonviolent revolutionary & prophet.”
Bernice King, who posts under the slogan “Be A King,” is the CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. She was five years old when her father was assassinated in 1968.
Per the Inquisitr, this week Vice President Mike Pence quoted Dr. King in pushing for a border wall, and also compared President Trump to King. Trump and Pence visited the King Memorial in Washington on Monday morning.
Some conservatives have seized on the “I Have a Dream” speech line, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” as an argument against affirmative action and for “color blind” policies. Others have argued, per Human Events, that King was actually a conservative or a Republican. This is false, according to PolitiFact.
Meanwhile, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby was heavily criticized this week for a column, arguing that, as King foresaw, “racism in America has largely been overcome.”
Many who quote him now would have hated him then. He was assassinated for trying to eradicate the evils some claim he’d support today. But he was a Christ-centered, love-fueled, justice-seeking, peacemaking, globally-minded, nonviolent revolutionary & prophet. #MLK90 #MLKDay #MLK pic.twitter.com/4kj2HgIYk0— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 21, 2019
In 2017, the FBI was harshly criticized for a Twitter post made on Martin Luther King Day in which they praised King’s legacy. The FBI had surveilled and had threatened King during his lifetime, even writing him a letter suggesting that he commit suicide, per the EFF. The FBI sent no such tweet this year, although the bureau’s former director, James Comey, posted an MLK quote to Twitter on Monday.
Some brands, over the years, have used King’s words in commercials or promotional messages. A King speech was even used in a car commercial — one for Fiat Chrysler’s Dodge Ram brand — during last year’s Super Bowl. According to Upworthy, the usage was okayed by Intellectual Properties Management, an entity run by King’s son. The King Center distanced themselves from the commercial.
ZzzQuil, a sleep aid company, wrote a Twitter message on Martin Luther King Day which read, “Today is the day for dreaming.”