Black Lives Matter have often claimed Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy for themselves, as though their mission were the continuation of the civil rights movement that he led in the fifties and sixties. For example, BLM has recently launched “its newest arts and culture endeavour” titled the ‘MLK Artist Series,’ to celebrate King’s legacy. But what would King make of the Black Lives Matter organisation? A closer examination reveals that they share little in common.
Since its inception in 2013, BLM has become synonymous with a global movement for racial justice, becoming far more emboldened and widespread after the death of George Floyd during his encounter with officer Derek Chauvin on May 25th, 2020, with widespread looting, vandalism, and violence perpetrated by BLM protestors causing over a billion dollars worth of damage and at least nineteen deaths in the ensuing months.
The protests were fueled by a belief that America is a systemically racist country. BLM’s website claims: “We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise.” They believe that black people are specifically and deliberately targeted by police for arrest and death, which would amount to genocide.
The website formerly featured a statement, which was removed after receiving attention from conservative media outlets, which read “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another.”
Given that BLM has never officially condemned the violence that took place in the protests turned riots after George Floyd’s death, and said nothing to discourage it in the lead-up to Derek Chauvin’s sentencing when more rioting was possible, one might reasonably conclude that they approve of or are indifferent to such mayhem.
One of BLM’s founders, Patrisse Cullors, gave some insight as to why this may be the case in an interview in 2015, stating: “We [BLM] actually do have an ideological frame… We are trained Marxists.”
Marxism, of course, is a worldview that views human history through the lens of class conflict. For Marx, the means of overcoming the oppression that apparently causes this conflict is social and political revolution, even if it involves violence. In an 1848 newspaper article Marx wrote: “There is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror.” Marx’s ideology left a legacy of bloodshed and anguish wherever it was fully implemented in the 20th century.
If BLM is a Marxist organisation and views its mission through the lens of class conflict, then it is likely they view “revolutionary terror” as a legitimate means of achieving their goals.
Furthermore, BLM frequently lie in order to push their systemic racism narrative. Their website reads:
“At the exact time the verdict of Derek Chauvin was being read… police wasted no time in senselessly taking another Black child… Columbus police officer Nicholas Reardon showed up and shot this 16-year-old child point-blank within a matter of seconds.”
In reality, this black child, named Ma’Khia Bryant, was about to stab another black girl with a large knife. BLM frequently make martyrs of dangerous criminals to further their political agenda.
Despite the organisation’s name, it appears that black deaths that are not the result of encounters with white cops are of no concern to BLM. Studies show that in the U.S. 93% of black homicide victims are killed by other black people, and that white people are more likely to die at the hands of police. Black people are overrepresented in their interactions with police, but there is no clear reason to attribute this to racism, yet the basic premise of BLM’s agenda is that black people are being systematically killed by police en masse.
Compare the philosophy and works of BLM to that of Martin Luther King Jr.
King sought to end segregation, a tangible reality of American life at the time, and thereby elevate the status of black Americans to the same level as their white neighbours in the hopes that every American would enjoy the same opportunities; a far cry from class warfare. He was not motivated by hatred or resentment but by belief in the rights of every American as revealed in the Bible and in the U.S. Constitution.
It was imperative to King that his movement’s goals be achieved peacefully. In his sermon ‘A tough mind and a tender heart’, he wrote:
“A Voice, echoing through the corridors of time, says to every intemperate Peter, ‘Put up thy sword.’ History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that failed to follow Christ’s command… We must work passionately and unrelentingly for full stature as citizens, but may it never be said, my friends, that to gain it we used the inferior methods of falsehood, malice, hate, and violence.”
King also made clear his views on communism, the Marxist political system. In his sermon ‘How Should a Christian view Communism?’ he wrote:
“Communism and Christianity are fundamentally incompatible… Communism is based on ethical relativism and accepts no stable moral absolutes. Right and wrong are relative to the most expedient methods for dealing with class war. Communism exploits the dreadful philosophy that the end justifies the means.”
King goes as far as to say that “Communism’s methods and philosophy strip man of his dignity and worth.”
Although King’s Christianity is a matter of some controversy, given his denial of the virgin birth and his serial adultery, there is no question that King’s Christian beliefs motivated him to become the greatest leader of the civil rights movement and to strive unswervingly for justice, even to the point of death.
In his sermon ‘On being a good neighbour’ he wrote: “We see men as Jews or Gentiles, Catholics or Protestants, Chinese or American, Negroes or whites. We fail to think of them as fellow human beings made in the same divine image.” He is hearkening back to the apostle Paul’s words: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)”
Given that Martin Luther King Jr fought the good fight peacefully, opposed communism/Marxism and its tendency towards using any means to achieve its ends, and was motivated by belief in the image of God and not by political ideology, BLM should stop associating him with their agenda. Even if BLM’s claims were true, their actions would be incompatible with King’s philosophy.