"What's he really done in life?"
A Montgomery civil rights worker posed this question about Martin Luther King III -- the eldest son of legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Pretty heavy thing, being named King III, and now he stands accused of lacking his father's vision, passion and drive.
King III leads the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the legendary organization founded by his father some 44 years ago. The board briefly suspended King III for inattentiveness, for possessing an unfocused agenda that allowed the organization to "drift."
Of the 41-year-old bachelor's persona, the Los Angeles Times says, "He doesn't inspire people, his detractors say, he doesn't have his father's oratorical gifts (though few do) ... " and "somewhat shy, he lives with his mother in the same house where he grew up." To many SCLC members, King III lacks fire. "'We got to get back to the streets,' said Richard Turner, a 72-year-old carpenter in rural Georgia. 'Talk ain't worth a damn if you don't do something.'" Poor King III.
"What's he really done in life?" Let's first place the focus on what King III has not done.
Unlike black "civil rights leader" Al Sharpton, King III never falsely accused a man of rape, with a jury later finding him liable in a defamation suit. He never referred to Jews as "diamond merchants," or Caucasians as "white interlopers."
Unlike Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, he never called Judaism a "gutter religion," or called Adolph Hitler a "very great man." He never publicly ridiculed Desiree Washington, the young black woman a jury convicted Mike Tyson of raping.
Unlike the former head of the Black Congressional Caucus, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., he never justified the 1992 Los Angeles riots by calling them a "civil uprising," while bellowing, "No justice, no peace." Nor does he insultingly refer to the Republican Party as "the enemy." Nor did he ever send a letter to Fidel Castro urging him to refuse extradition of a black woman who killed a New Jersey State trooper and fled to Cuba. In her letter, Waters called this murderer a "persecuted ... political activist" and likened her to Martin Luther King Jr.
Unlike NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, King III never fathered any children out of wedlock. According to the "Almanac of American Politics," "Mfume's original name was Frizzell Gray; he was 16 when his mother died, at which point he dropped out of school, held low-paying jobs, and fathered five children out of wedlock."
Unlike NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, no one ever credibly accused King III of cocaine use. In 1987, Bond's wife told police that he used cocaine daily, that he consorted with a woman who had prior convictions -- a felon later convicted for possession and intent to distribute -- and that this woman had assaulted her. Although charges were never filed against Bond, after the allegations hit, writer/commentator Juan Williams wrote, "A number of (Bond's) friends and political allies ... say they think Julian Bond uses cocaine. ... He has not lived at home with his wife and family for six months. Relations with his five children are strained. He has had to give up credit cards because the bills got too big. He owes $150,000 in campaign debts. He has had a lien put on his house by the Internal Revenue Service."
Unlike Rainbow/PUSH leader Jesse Jackson, who hypocritically ministered to a troubled, philandering President Clinton, no one ever filed a lawsuit against King III seeking child support payments for an out-of-wedlock baby fathered by a married man.
Should King III champion affirmative action? The Detroit News says that in seven Michigan universities, blacks (in part because of affirmative action) after six years, graduate at a rate of only 40 percent, compared to 61 percent of whites and 74 percent of Asians.
Should King III push for reparations for slavery? So the son of the man who urged judgments based on "content of character" should seek money from today's white non-slaveowners to pay today's black non-slaves? Please.
The success of the majority black middle class renders a "civil rights organization" nearly obsolete. For the black "underclass" -- nearly 30 percent of black Americans -- "solutions" require an attack on the victicrat mentality. Emphasize personal responsibility; eliminate the dependency-inducing welfare state; privatize Social Security; end the war on drugs; inject competition in public schools; remove the government from healthcare; reduce taxes and regulations -- the kind of stuff that could get King III called an "Uncle Tom."
The '60s civil rights movement demanded equal rights for all. For the most part, mission accomplished. The landscape King III faces looks entirely different. Or, as an elderly black man once explained why he refused to vote for then-presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, "He's in the 'we shall overcome' business. And we done overcome."