What Would MLK Have Thought of the “Black Lives Matter” Movement?

WSU history professor discusses what MLK may have thought about modern civil rights struggles.

Reuther Library

Over the past few years in the United States a national dialogue has taken root over race and inequality. Social media and technology has exposed lingering issues of racism and injustice in society, often marked with tragedy and death of young black men. Within these renewed conversations are many voices, including one that invokes the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. not for his leadership in the Civil Rights movement, but rather in spite of it. There is a pervasive belief that lives online and among some conservative pundits that Dr. King wouldn’t have approved of a modern movement like Black Lives Matter. Indeed some argue Dr. King would have been vehemently against Black Lives Matter and many aspects of conversations of race today. For instance, just last week on the WDET facebook page a picture was posted of MLK with the insinuation that these modern movements are killing his “Dream” and are actually inherently racist.

What WOULD have Dr. King made of the civil rights struggles of today? Are there elements of his teachings and words that can provide context for the modern struggle in America?

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson is joined by Wayne State University associate professor Kidada Williams. Williams specializes in American history and the history of violence in the U.S. Williams says she believes Dr. King would have supported the people and message of the Black Lives Matter movement. But she says it’s important to note the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s evolved over many years and the modern movement will need time to evolve and mature as well if it will be effective in the long term.