Alveda King’s reaction to the NAACP’s endorsement of marriage equality has all of the hallmarks of an “Alveda King reaction”: she makes it about abortion and she attempts to pretend she represents the real views of the King family, including her late grandfather. Au contraire, Alveda:

Dr. Alveda C. King is among the growing number of African-American leaders speaking out about President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage.

Specifically, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. is joining black spiritual leaders in decrying the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP’s, move to give a nod to gay marriage in the United States.


“Neither my great-grandfather an NAACP founder, my grandfather Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr. an NAACP leader, my father Rev. A. D. Williams King, nor my uncle Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. embraced the homosexual agenda that the current NAACP is attempting to label as a civil rights agenda,” says King, founder of King for America and Pastoral Associate for Priests for Life.

“In the 21st Century, the anti-traditional marriage community is in league with the anti-life community, and together with the NAACP and other sympathizers, they are seeking a world where homosexual marriage and abortion will supposedly set the captives free.”

Slow down, word salad.

First of all, Alveda, you might have been too little at the time to really know Bayard Rustin, but it’s important to remember that the organizer and architect of your uncle’s famous March on Washington, was openly gay. He has indeed been, sadly, whitewashed from history in many ways.

Right. More about Bayard Rustin here.

Moreover, here is the text of a letter from today’s most influential Civil Rights leaders, commending President Obama for his stance on marriage equality. There’s an important quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the top, which gives us a clue as to which side of this fight he’d be on:

May 11, 2012
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As leaders in today’s Civil Rights Movement, we stand behind the President Obama’s belief that same sex couples should be allowed to join in civil marriages. We also affirm that individuals may hold different views on this issue but still work together towards our common goals: fair housing and equitable education, affordable health care and eradicating poverty, all issues of deep and abiding concern for our communities.

President Obama stated his view that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. This is a view that we concur with, because as civil rights leaders we cannot fight to gain rights for some and not for all. At the same time, we acknowledge that the President stated his personal opinion, which everyone is entitled to – both those who agree with him, like us, and those who disagree. The President made clear that his support is for civil marriage for same-sex couples, and he is fully committed to protecting the ability of religious institutions to make their own decisions about their own sacraments.

There will be those who seek to use this issue to divide our community. As a people, we cannot afford such division. It is our hope that conversations on strengthening African American families continue in a civil and respectful way, on all sides, both with those who support the ability of same-sex couples to marry, and those who do not.

We are glad that President Obama has joined Dr. Joseph Lowery, Dr. Julian Bond and so many others in full embrace of equality for gay and lesbian individuals in our country. We also welcome the civil debate on this issue that will surely spring. And we encourage all individuals to keep all issues of import to our communities in mind in the days ahead, and we seek to secure equal justice, opportunity and dignity for all God’s children.

Reverend Al Sharpton
President & Founder, National Action Network

Julian Bond
Chairman Emeritus of NAACP

Melanie Campbell
President and CEO of the National Coalition for Black Civic Engagement

Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery
Civil Rights Icon and President Emeritus of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Yes. And must we also, Alveda, quote once again the many statements of Coretta Scott King, who actually was married to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in support of equality for LGBT Americans? For one thing, she came out in support of marriage equality in 2004 when Dubya was campaigning on enshrining marriage discrimination into the Constitution. But she had already been talking about gay rights, long before that. From her Wikipedia page:

On April 1, 1998 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Mrs. King called on the civil rights community to join in the struggle against homophobia and anti-gay bias. “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood”, she stated.[15] “This sets the stage for further repression and violence that spread all too easily to victimize the next minority group.”

In a speech in November 2003 at the opening session of the 13th annual Creating Change Conference, organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Coretta Scott King made her now famous appeal linking the Civil Rights Movement to LGBT rights: “I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people. … But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.”

“I hasten to remind them.” I’m sure that great LGBT bloggers and journalists of color will be weighing in on this soon if they haven’t already, and I’ll probably post some of their reactions as a riposte to Alveda King’s awful comments, but for now, I feel like so much is captured in those five words: “I hasten to remind them.”

I have always been very clear in writing about this subject, in my belief that the Civil Rights Movement and the movement for LGBT equality are not the same, but that they are both movements for civil rights and justice for all. Different [yet overlapping] groups with different starting points in terms of discrimination and second-class citizen status, but both arcing toward the same goal of full equality for all.

Alveda King has always been the outlier in the King family. We all know this. It’s still gross that she uses her family name to preach hatred against a minority group, and I just somehow doubt that her words and actions would make Martin, Coretta, or Bayard Rustin happy.