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O’Reilly: MLK would not have supported Black Lives Matter

GEORGE E. CURRY | 7/25/2016, 11:32 a.m.
Fox News host Bill O’Reilly escalated his ongoing attack on the Black Lives Matter movement by asserting without a hint ...
George Curry

(George Curry Media) – Fox News host Bill O’Reilly escalated his ongoing attack on the Black Lives Matter movement by asserting without a hint of evidence that if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were alive, he would not support the group.

“With all due respect to President Obama, well-meaning activists do not associate themselves with a group that often commits violent acts, and encourages violence through irresponsible rhetoric. Dr. King would not participate in a Black Lives Matter protest,” he said in a Fox News commentary.

First, Black Lives Matter does not, contrary to O’Reilly’s assertion, often commit violent acts or encourage violence through what he characterized as irresponsible rhetoric. He is part of the crowd that thinks the chant of “Black Lives Matter” should be discarded in favor of “All Lives Matters.”

Forever trying to bridge the gap between Blacks and Whites, Obama explained the nuances associated with the phrase.

“I think it’s important for us to also understand that the phrase ‘black lives matter’ simply refers to the notion that there’s a specific vulnerability for African Americans that needs to be addressed,” he told a gathering of enforcement officials, civil rights leaders, elected officials and activists recently in Washington, D.C. “We shouldn’t get too caught up in this notion that somehow people who are asking for fair treatment are somehow, automatically, anti-police, are trying to only look out for Black lives as opposed to others. I think we have to be careful about playing that game.”

It’s a game O’Reilly plays well, which is why he has the gall to claim that King would not support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Credible civil rights leaders strongly disagree.

Bernard Lafayette Jr., who worked with King as a field organizer and now chairs the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization King co-founded, said: “Dr. King supported the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee so it stands to reason that he would support Black Lives Matter as long as they practice nonviolence.”

Rep. John Lewis knows that from firsthand experience. As chairman of the upstart SNCC, he participated in numerous marches with King, including the 1963 March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery March that led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Lewis has praised the Black Lives Matter movement and quoted King, as he did at a recent protest in the U.S. Capitol, by saying, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

O’Reilly, never a King supporter, opposes many of the things King fought for during his lifetime, including affirmative action. Nothing in his background qualifies him to be an expert on what King would say or do if he were still alive.

Those who are active in the Civil Rights Movement today have no doubts that King would be supportive of the young people who make up the core of Black Lives Matter.

“Dr. King would enthusiastically embrace the philosophy and activism which inspires Black Lives Matter because every life matters,” said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League. “The continuing disparities and unequal treatment most apparent in, but not limited to, the police/community relations and the criminal justice system demonstrates that all lives have not mattered equally.