Billboards in Austin proclaiming that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican are raising more than a few eyebrows.
The billboard campaign was funded by Houston conservative activist Claver Kamau-Imani, who told Hair Balls that, despite many people's assumptions to the contrary, King was a GOP man, and that needs to be recognized this election year. He says he has proof, in the form of a video of King's niece, the Rev. Alveda King, stating unequivocally that her uncle was a Republican.
"Has the truth been hidden, or has the truth been hijacked?" Kamau-Imani asked of Hair Balls. "Has it been engraved into the minds of the African-American community, that they would automatically assume that how they are right now is how Martin Luther King was?"
Of course, King's son, Martin Luther King III, told the Associated Press in 2008, "It is disingenuous to imply that my father was a Republican. He never endorsed any presidential candidate, and there is certainly no evidence that he ever even voted for a Republican. It is even more outrageous to suggest that he would support the Republican Party of today, which has spent so much time and effort trying to suppress African-American votes in Florida and many other states."
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But Kamau-Imani himself isn't suggesting that, telling Hair Balls that some people "want to speculate, 'Well, would he be one today?' That's not the issue....No one knows what he would be today. So would he perfectly align with everything in the Republican Party platform? I doubt it. I don't align with everything in the Republican Party platform. Who does? Would he align himself with everything in the Democratic Party platform? Oh, I don't think so, not at all."
Kamau-Imani's billboards aren't the only ones that have popped up; black Republican candidates across the country who are courting minority voters have used the claim in billboards that plaster MLK's face beside theirs.
When Politifact asked King biographer and University of Washington-Tacoma Professor Michael K. Honey about the claims, he stated in an e-mail: "Do they now make things up out of whole clothe or do they fabricate based on assumptions with no actual knowledge."
Hair Balls wants to know what y'all think. Care to weigh in with your opinion?