Jillian Bandes

MLK, Glenn Beck, and racism: these themes are still echoing long after the conclusion of Beck's monumental rally on the anniversary of King's "I Have A Dream" speech last month.

Dr. Alveda King, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece, has been under fire for her participation in the event, with fault lines running not only from liberal critics but also from the black conservative Christian movement and in the conservative movement at large.

Alveda King is both defensive and realistic about her involvement.

“The principles of faith, hope, charity, love, honor – we are taught to honor God, to honor our families – and love our neighbors… and I believe the message that Glenn delivered helped us do that,” she said in an interview.

“The answer to all of the religious questions: it wasn’t about Glenn the person, or Glenn the man – it was Glenn the message. I’m not a naysayer, I’m a unifier,” she said.

Detractors claim she was dishonoring her uncle’s legacy by participating in the rally, because the conservative talk show host had allegedly dishonored the cause of civil rights. In these critics’ opinions, Beck represents the antithesis of King’s civil rights legacy, and can even be characterized as racist.

“Is Glenn Beck a racist?” asked Rev. Anthony Evans, President of National Black Church Initiative. “I think in Glenn Beck’s eyes, he is not a racist, but for those of us who understand code words, that Glenn Beck is dangerous.”

Evans said that he respected Alveda’s participation, however.

“I think she has a right – I think she was right to be there,” said Evans. “I think that one of the failures of black leadership is that we have given all of our cookies to one person. For African Americans to be successful politically, we have to be in every single party, so we can make sure our interests are addressed.”

Reverend Al Sharpton, who held a counter-rally to Beck on 8/28, did not even grant her that much. Sharpton claims that the elder King relied heavily on the government in order to accomplish his social objectives, while the Beck bunch promotes exactly the opposite.

“From my study of history, those that claim to be the Tea Partiers and the followers and supporters of Mr. Beck and Mrs. Palin were the ones that today advocate the things that that march was against,” said Sharpton, in an interview with Keith Olbermann. “Their idea of government and the idea that Dr. King and Roy Wilkins of—and others espoused is the exact opposite of what they're calling for.”

Alveda King roundly rejects that notion.


Jillian Bandes

Jillian Bandes is the National Political Reporter for Townhall.com