Florida seems to be the intersection of multiple controversial topics at the moment, and somehow they all seem to trace back to the state’s GOP governor, Ron DeSantis.
The most recent of those issues that particularly applies to our community was the travel advisory issued out by the NAACP last week (May 20). Written as a direct response to DeSantis’ “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools,” the widely-circulated document sent shockwaves through the Sunshine State in addition to the entire Black community at whole.
“Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” one passage reads, further going into detail by stating, “Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
While it was expected for DeSantis to be more than a bit perturbed by the NAACP’s scathing travel advisory, what wasn’t expected was his buddy from Texas, Senator Ted Cruz, finding a way to bring the late great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into Florida’s unlikely beef with the prestigious Black organization.
As seen in his tweet above, sent out a day after the travel advisory was officially released, Cruz called it “utterly dishonest” and claimed, in his words, “Dr. King would be ashamed of how profoundly they’ve lost their way.” However, it wasn’t long before MLK Jr.’s own daughter, Dr. Bernice King, had a few words to tweet out herself, writing in direct response to Cruz, “What my father would be deeply concerned about is the harmful, discriminatory legislation in Florida.”
The classic photo she added of her dad in the tweet gave her response that extra sting it needed.
Clever clapbacks aside though, Dr. Bernice King makes a pretty valid point. As the advisory lays out with full clarity, Governor DeSantis has made the State of Florida the center of many hard debates when it comes to protesting in the wake of rising murder rates in the Black community, restricting how African-American history is taught with his war against CRT and his very public intolerance for the inclusion of anything LGBTQIA+-related in schools.
We all know quite well how much Dr. King went hard for the civil rights of Black Americans, sadly losing his life in the very pursuit of it on that fateful April day in 1968, but it wasn’t too clear how he felt towards homosexuality. The only instance where he publicly addressed it was in response to a 1958 advice column where a young closeted boy wrote King for help in what he should do with his feelings.
Take a look below at how that exchange went, archived via the official Martin Luther King Jr. Research Institute at Stanford University:
“Question: My problem is different from the ones most people have. I am a boy, but I feel about boys the way I ought to feel about girls. I don’t want my parents to know about me. What can I do? Is there any place where I can go for help?
MLK Jr.: Your problem is not at all an uncommon one. However, it does require careful attention. The type of feeling that you have toward boys is probably not an innate tendency, but something that has been culturally acquired. Your reasons for adopting this habit have now been consciously suppressed or unconsciously repressed. Therefore, it is necessary to deal with this problem by getting back to some of the experiences and circumstances that lead to the habit. In order to do this I would suggest that you see a good psychiatrist who can assist you in bringing to the forefront of conscience all of those experiences and circumstances that lead to the habit. You are already on the right road toward a solution, since you honestly recognize the problem and have a desire to solve it.”
There’s a lot of ways you can dissect Dr. King’s response. For one, it’s very gentle, understanding and without any prejudice; we can at least assume he’d be an ally. However, he does label it as a “problem” that has a “right road toward a solution.” Could Dr. King have been suggesting therapy to “cure” the boy of his homosexuality and unearth early influences that prematurely persuaded his same-sex attraction? Or, also likely, was his response more to get the boy to get help in fully coming to terms with one day being a proud gay man like his good friend and civil rights colleague Bayard Rustin?
That relationship didn’t come without its trials and tribulations though, as Rustin himself confirmed in a 1987 essay. In it, he stated that pressure from King’s advisory committee within the Friendship Baptist Church “harassed” Dr. King to terminate Rustin due to his sexuality. “I told Dr. King that if advisors closest to him felt I was a burden, then rather than put him in a position that he had to say leave, I would go,” Rustin wrote, going on to surprisingly add, “Adam Clayton Powell, for some reason I will never understand, actually called Dr. King when he was in Brazil and indicated that he was aware of some relationship between me and Dr. King, which, of course, there was not. This added to his anxiety about additional discussions of sex.”
Given that King still called on Rustin years after the latter excused himself to alleviate political stress for the former, it’s our belief that Martin Luther King Jr. believed in equality for all, including all his brothers and sisters in the LGBTQIA+ community. Sorry Cruz…wrong on that point, too!
Here’s what the NAACP wants you to know if you plan on making a trek to Florida anytime soon:
- Please be advised that Florida public schools will not teach your children accurate African-American history, which includes a history of enslavement, segregation, racial injustice and systemic racism.
- Please be advised that the State of Florida does not value diversity, equity, and inclusion in Florida schools, colleges and universities.
- Please be advised that the State of Florida does not welcome the contributions of African Americans and people of color.
Hey…if the shoe fits!
Read what many are saying about Senator Ted Cruz bringing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into Florida’s beef with the NAACP below, and let us know what you think of the travel advisory aimed at Ron DeSantis in general:
- Travel Advisory For Brown Folks; New Rideshare App With Armed Drivers; & Teacher Of The Year Arrested
- Anniversary Of George Floyd’s Death, May See A New Policing Executive Order; NFL’s New Initiative Works With HBCU Med Schools; & Why is Walmart Apopogizing?
- Time Announced Women Of The Year Honorees; Bey Z Announce On The Run II; & The Emmet Till Anti Lynching Bill’s Passes The Senate.
How Did Martin Luther King Jr. Get Dragged Into The NAACP And Florida Beef? was originally published on blackamericaweb.com
1. I fucking KNOW Rafael isn’t presuming that MLK Jr. would’ve sided with Ron Desantis over the NAACP.
2. The use of bizarre really takes me out. He’s trying to gaslight us into believing that Florida isn’t doing, everything the NAACP is saying, even tho we all have access to the internet and see the bills being signed by Desantis. And I wish they would let MLK rest.
3. BATTLE LINES HAVE BEEN DRAWN… !!!! MLK JR’S Daughter has raised the battle flag ! Gov. Ron DeSantis is in the firing line and as well as Ted Cruz ! You CAN NOT AND WILL NOT DISRESPECT THE PEOPLE WHO VOTE ! FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE IN !
4. Enough with your dishonest and ill-informed projection. The NAACP is spot on and MLK would support their decision and lament how MAGA supporters including legislators like you and DeSantis have lost your way. You need to zip it and do something for Texas for once.
5. DeSantis needs to take an extensive history course to learn the Emancipation Proclimation was issued in 1863, the Civil War ended in 1865, the political & social gains made in the 1960’s, accomplishments of MLK & even much of FL disagrees with him.
6. Please don’t try to tell me that MLK would be ok with DeSantis whitewashed history. Ridiculous!
7. As a Black American no travel advisory, Gov Ron DeSantis, Maga Trump followers, or devil in hell, will keep me from going to the Sunshine St. if I want too. In words of MLK, Jr. “I’m not fearing any man, or anything, mine eyes have seen the coming of the Lord, and His truth…!”
8. Ted Cruz said MLK Jr would’ve been ashamed of the NAACP’s Florida stand; face it, even MLK Jr would’ve kicked Cruz in the nuts!
9. It’s as if Ten “Cancun” Cruz carefully invokes MLK’s memory only when it’s convenient for him, when the odds are VERY strong that Dr. King might have abandoned non-violence, just for a moment, to give Ted a boot in the groin.
10. Ted Cruz invoking MLK for his own nasty agenda, only to be slapped down by King’s daughter, says everything we need to know.