Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and MSNBC’s Morning Joe decided to commemorate the occasion by bringing on Al Sharpton -- host of the channel’s Sunday morning PoliticsNation show -- to discuss King’s legacy in the era of President Donald Trump.
Of course, Sharpton used the occasion to slam the Republican occupant of the White House by asserting that he has created a “racial divide” in America by making “intolerance become vogue again.”
Co-host Joe Scarborough began the segment by claiming that King was “a prophet about so many things,” including “his own death” during a sermon the civil rights leader delivered in Memphis, Tennessee, the day before he was shot by James Earl Ray.
Sharpton responded by stating that King had been in the city at that time to march with the garbage workers who were on strike. He then noted that he and the civil rights leader’s son would be doing the same thing on Wednesday because “many of the things Dr. King stood for [are] under attack 50 years later.”
The liberal guest then continued:
I think what people really don’t understand, for those of us who grew up in the King movement and the generation after King, is that we mark the 50th anniversary with the challenges that we have a president that has made this kind of racial divide and intolerance become vogue again.
[W]hen you look at what Donald Trump is doing around questions of people of color, Mexicans, blacks, Muslims, he has reintroduced what Dr. King’s life was against.
Scarborough then asserted that Trump has “taken us back 50 years or further. ... God, I don’t know how far you’d have to go back to hear this sort of talk coming from a president that we’re hearing now, unfortunately, from this deplorable example of one.”
There were actually two versions of King, the co-host asserted. “There’s a Martin Luther King we like to remember as a country, and that is the Martin Luther King through the ‘50s and the ‘60s, when it was all easy, and it was black and white. Racial justice versus racial intolerance. Good versus evil.”
“But in the last five years of his life,” Scarborough stated, King “moved beyond racial justice. In many of those [racial] areas, we’re doing pretty well today, and we’ve had a remarkable march over the past 50 years, but at the end of his life and in Memphis, he [stated that] racial justice and economic justice cannot be segregated. And we are not doing well in these areas, are we?”
Sharpton responded that King “talked about how he was part of a movement, another movement to give blacks the right to check into a hotel and go and buy a cup of coffee at the coffee shop -- but now he found they couldn’t afford to pay for the room or pay for the coffee.”
“So we had to deal with economic justice,” he added. “The gap racially, economically today, is the same as it was 50 years ago, so the economic question is what he championed, as well as he came out against the war in Vietnam, and he adhered to the principle of non-violence.”
“What many people don’t want to talk about is that he was under attack from both the left and the right,” Sharpton stated. “The left was angry with him, saying non-violence had run its course. The right was mad because he was with the anti-Vietnam crowd and calling for economic justice.”
“In his last few years, King was isolated,” he continued. “It was not vogue to be with Dr. King when you were a teenager. Now, everybody’s embracing him. You can’t hardly get a seat at your own memorial for him.”
The guest then stated: “But Dr. King had the moral courage and firm hard-core rock-solid belief in what he was doing. He stood for something that ended up being right.”
Turning his attention back to Donald Trump, Sharpton noted: “I’m very curious to see if the president today tweets about 50 years after Dr. King and what Dr. King stood for.”
“This is a man -- Donald Trump -- that has come to the Martin King memorials with me in New York,” he added. “I wonder if he’s going to put on the face of Donald Trump that was trying to befriend hip-hoppers and others … before he was a politician.”
“Or is he going to keep playing this kind of racial demagoguery that he is playing to a crowd but dividing a country? It’s King Day. I wonder, Mr. President: Can you find at least the moral strength to memorialize him and what he stood for?”
It would be interesting to hear Sharpton explain just what "economic justice" means. For some reason, that term makes me want to hide my wallet.