The NAACP did not mince words when outgoing White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted about a hero who embodied love and faith in the pursuit of equality. Seeing McEnany tweet about honoring the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the NAACP challenged her to take action on the civil rights icon’s federal holiday by being silent.
.@PressSec you dare not utter the words of a man who sacrificed his life in the fight for equality and truth, while you spewed hateful rhetoric and worked in the most hateful and divisive Administration in modern history.#MLKDay is a call to action.
Your Action: Shut up! https://t.co/c51ZiFLu9v
— NAACP (@NAACP) January 18, 2021
Conservative attempts to co-opt MLK’s legacy are not new, but on the heels of a failed coup this year’s cherry-picking of MLK quotes takes on a new life. Simply put, MLK Day is not a time for conservatives to wash away their sins against humanity.
Ivanka Trump reportedly has been trying to salvage her political career. People across Twitter did not take kindly to her posturing.
You are truly the white lady from Rosewood and Tulsa. https://t.co/iG9ae8CNb2
— George M Johnson (@IamGMJohnson) January 18, 2021
Freshman lawmakers Reps. Lauren Boebert and Madison Cawthorn rose to prominence on messages of hate but both offered tweets on Monday attempting to reset the conversation and distance themselves from the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Boebert has been under scrutiny for possibly leading “reconnaissance tours” of the Capitol prior to the attempted coup.
"We saw congress[woman] Boebert taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd and before the 6th." — Rep. Steve Cohen says he and a colleague saw Rep. Boebert giving people a tour of the Capitol in the days leading up to the riot pic.twitter.com/dNPymWqjPY
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 18, 2021
Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham and lame-duck Kelly Loeffler spent weeks undermining election results and feeding into conspiracy theories leading to the January 6 attacks. All three tweeted MLK Day messages as if people have forgotten their recent antics. While Graham did not support Cruz and Loeffler in their plan to object to the certification of Electoral College results, he previously tried to pressure the Georgia secretary of state to change election results.
Graham called Georgia election officials asking them to discount the votes of African-Americans https://t.co/4keR4z92vS
— Michael McDonald (@ElectProject) January 18, 2021
In her failed bid to move from political appointee to elected official, Loeffler repeated false conspiracy theories about nonexistent fraud, catering to Trump supporters. She also focused on attacking the faith and leadership of Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock. Loeffler and her Republican allies ran racist attack ads during the Georgia runoff attacking Warnock’s politics and faith.
Celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As residents of Dr. King’s home state, Georgians are particularly inspired by his legacy as we pause to remember his powerful words, honor his leadership and impact, and reaffirm our commitment to service. #MLKDay pic.twitter.com/hjvjgFmJfE
— Senator Kelly Loeffler (@SenatorLoeffler) January 18, 2021
Warnock called the current backlash one of “unembarrassed bigotry” during his Sunday sermon ahead of the MLK holiday and challenged those who see calls for equity and parity as a form of oppression. NPR reported that Warnock spoke against those driven to violent action and “stirred up by demagogues.”
In an op-ed framing the legacy of MLK within the enduring legacy of Black Liberation Theology, Professor Anthea Butler called out Loeffler’s hypocrisy.
“Loeffler unleashed a series of attacks against Warnock and his religious beliefs in debates and in ads both before and after November, even though she had been in attendance — and sitting on the dais with Warnock — at Ebenezer Baptist Church as a guest for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day services in 2020,” Butler, an associate professor of religious studies and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote Monday.
I believe that Dr. King would look at all the carrying on that so many are doing in the name of #MLKDay and say exactly what Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright did in September 2001.
— Rev. James Woodall (@iMajorWish) January 18, 2021
Georgia NAACP President James Woodall let off several tweets about his frustration at the way various individuals and entities take advantage of MLK Day.
Please don’t act like everyone loved my father. He was assassinated. A 1967 poll reflected that he was one of the most hated men in America. Most hated. Many who quote him now and evoke him to deter justice today would likely hate, and may already hate, the authentic King. #MLK pic.twitter.com/yGdQXL5MJ3
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 18, 2021
Reflecting on her father’s legacy, Dr. Bernice King warned those rushing to quote him but not engaging with his longstanding commitment to justice.
“Many who quote him now and evoke him to deter justice today would likely hate, and may already hate, the authentic King,” King tweeted.