“Sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”: MLK III speaks out against Mark Robinson’s attacks on his father

attribution: AP

The eldest son of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. used the occasion of Father’s Day to speak out against North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson’s years of attacks on his father and the larger civil rights movement:

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson has repeatedly mocked my father.  But it’s not the petty insults that bother me.  It’s his outright rejection of a civil rights movement my father and so many others lived and died for.  Robinson called the Greensboro lunch counter protests “a ridiculous premise” and said “so many freedoms were lost.”  As my father said, “Nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

After serving one term as Lieutenant Governor, Republican Mark Robinson is vying to become the first Black governor of North Carolina. But his long history of attacks on civil rights leaders and the civil rights movement show Robinson’s true colors: the man Donald Trump recently called “Martin Luther King on steroids” is MAGA through and through.

Robinson has often used the occasion of MLK Day to criticize the civil rights icon, calling him an “ersatz pastor” and ridiculing people who celebrate his contributions:

Robinson has repeatedly referred to King as a communist and indicated he opposes MLK Day as a federal holiday, pointing to those who don’t go to work on this day as “leaches” [sic].

(As an aside, it’s ironic that Robinson refers to people taking a day to celebrate King’s legacy as “leaches,” given his habit of failing to pay his mandatory state and federal taxes.)

But it’s not Robinson’s silly insults that drove MLK III to come out swinging on Father’s Day. It’s his criticism of the larger civil rights movement that fundamentally changed life in the United States for African Americans.

Mark Robinson was born in Greensboro, NC, just eight years after the Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins in that city helped spark widespread protests against racial segregation and, ultimately, led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibited discrimination in public accommodations.

In a 2018 podcast interview, Robinson referred to the Woolworth’s sit-ins as “a ridiculous premise,” indicating the free market should have given Woolworth’s the freedom to deny access to African Americans and let the market decide.

In the same interview, Robinson went on to say that the civil rights movement resulted in so many freedoms being lost:

“So many things were lost during the Civil Rights Movement. So many freedoms were lost during the Civil Rights Movement. They shouldn’t have been lost.”

Mark Robinson has also attacked civil rights leader John Lewis, mocking the man who fought for African American voting rights for having his skull fractured by an Alabama state trooper during the Bloody Sunday Selma protest in 1965.

As we head toward a crucial election in November 2024, it’s important to keep the core values of Mark Robinson in this swing state front and center.

More than 20% of North Carolina’s residents are African American. They deserve to have leaders who are in tune with their needs. As Martin Luther King’s eldest son points out, Robinson’s values stand in “direct opposition” to those needs.

“Martin Luther King on steroids.” “Martin Luther King times two.” It’s an insult to my father’s and my family’s name. My father stood for peace, justice, and equity. The blatant bigotry that Robinson, Trump, and the far right have devoted themselves to promoting stands in direct opposition to what my father called “the beloved community,” a world built on peace and justice.

Let me be clear: My father would be gravely disappointed in Mark Robinson.

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