It is no secret that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a weakness for women. Even his best friend, Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, made admission to King’s extramarital affairs. However, a recently published article by Pulitzer-winning King biographer David J. Garrow includes new accusations that King’s sexual escapades were more perverse than previously known, reported the New York Times. The question is, should Black America trust it?
Published in the British magazine “Standpoint,” the article details King’s sexual encounters including orgies, homosexuality and new context to the infamous “Suicide Letter” that the FBI sent to King in around 1964. Garrow said he tried to get his article published in U.S. publications, but all of them turned it down.
One of the most explosive claims in Garrow’s article is that Dr. King not only stood by while one of his colleagues and fellow ministers raped a woman, but also laughed and even offered advice to the offender.
Since former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s obsession with discrediting King is also no secret, Garrow’s critics deemed him irresponsible for publishing the FBI’s allegations without corroborating them with other evidence. Through wiretapping of the U.S. civil rights’ icon’s home, phones and hotel rooms, Hoover and the FBI sought to discredit King and get him to stop fighting for Black rights, reported Business Insider.
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Critics of the article also call Garrow out for what they deem callous disregard to others’ families and legacies because he includes the names of women King was allegedly involved with – some of whom are deceased.
While there is no doubt that King’s adulterous affairs have blemished the picturesque view America long held of him as an upstanding man of the cloth, it doesn’t negate the work he did to advance civil rights for Blacks.
Of course, these recent allegations are extremely upsetting for Black America, which reveres King’s impact despite his moral failings. While not justifying King’s flaws, supporters acknowledge he was a man – and all humanity is flawed.
There is no way to currently know whether the FBI’s notes about King are actually true because the surveillance tapes won’t be unsealed until 2027. In the meantime, Black America should withhold turning its back on one of its most iconic leaders and historical figures because of Garrow’s latest work.
To not do so would subject King to the unjust “guilty until proven innocent” due process that has been used against Blacks since the African ancestors stepped foot on American soil.