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Opinion: Columnists

Martin Luther King Jr. deserves respect

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Opinion,Gregory Kane,Columnists,Martin Luther King,Civil Rights

I guess the most offensive “flyer” was the one depicting Martin Luther King Jr. flashing a wad of cash and standing next to a scandalous, nearly butt-naked hoochie.

That must have been for starters. Other “flyers” promoting “celebrations” of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday have been popping up across the country.

There's the one I described above.

Another depicted what I call a “blinged-up” King -- sporting a bejeweled crown advertising a free King holiday bash: “Free At Last: Everybody Over 21 Free Till After Midnight.”

Then there was this promotional gem: a flyer advertising a “No School, No ID, No Worries” bash.

And now we come to this piece de resistance of advertising: a blinged-up King on flyer advertising a “Freedom 2 Twerk” weekend party in Flint, Mich.

My sincerest apologies to those of you who have, so far, been spared the indignity of knowing what “twerking” is.

For those of you who already know, well, the saying goes: no harm, no foul. Twerking is a “dance” that is said to have started in the South. Here's my own spin on it:

Twerking is a dance done mainly by women and by men who have way too much time on their hands.

In the twerking, the women grind their hips lasciviously -- often the crotches of horny young men. As you might have surmised, “twerking” is considered quite vulgar.

Now we come to the heart of the matter about what some are calling only “harmless” flyers. I'm not going to sit here in this hospital -- in my seventh day of hospitalization, no less -- and pretend that Martin Luther King Jr. was a loyal, devoted and faithful husband to his wife Coretta Scott King. I've read too much by and about King to know otherwise.

But here's what I have learned from all I have read by and about King: The man did indeed have extramarital affairs. His private life was his private life. Few of us knew about his private life.

King wouldn't have been caught dead tossing $10, $20 and $50 bills into the air at any nightclub in the nation. Neither, for that matter, would other prominent civil rights leaders of that era: Roy Wilkins of the NAACP and Whitney Young of the Congress of Racial Equality.

Not even John Lewis — followed by Stokely Carmichael and then H. Rap Brown — would have been caught at a strip nightclub. And they were the leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee — better known as SNCC — then considered the youngest and most radical (and presumably, the horniest) of all the civil rights groups.

Black Nationalist leader Malcolm X wouldn’t be on that list either.

Now that we’ve discussed King’s generation of black Americans, it’s only appropriate that we discuss the one where some — many? most? — feel flyers depicting Dr. King as he’s been depicted are either wise, cute or clever.

Immediately, or so it seemed, after King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, there was a move afoot to have his birthday declared a national holiday. Since we celebrate that holiday today, it would also seem like the movement was a success.

It would have been every bit as inconceivable for members of the Baby Boomer generation to get an image of King, Wilkins, Young, Farmer, Malcolm X, Lewis, Carmichael or Brown sitting in a strip club. Said image simply wouldn’t stick.

Only members of black America’s hip-hop generation can imagine such images of King. Only they think there's nothing wrong with King being depicted in such a despicable manner.

It is only they who see nothing with a blinged-out, pimped-up image of one of the greatest civil rights leaders this nation has known.

GREGORY KANE, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.
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