Conservative radio and television host Armstrong Williams tells Newsmax TV that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy has “freed the oppressed as well as the oppressor” in such a manner that the United States continues to experience great progress in race relations.
“He was a part of a movement that was started by the abolitionists,” Williams — host of “The Right Side with Armstrong Williams”— tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview.
“The abolitionists became the Republican Party, because they were once known as black conservatives, but they were so disliked and so abandoned that they formed the Republican Party," Williams said.
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“Long before Dr. King, they fought for fair housing. They fought for equal opportunity. They fought for equity. They wanted to abolish slavery — and this was their history, and this was the legacy of the Republican Party. That is why so many American blacks, up until about 1970, almost 80 percent of them were Republicans.
“And as a result of this, men like Dr. Martin Luther King had a platform,” Williams added. “He had legislation. He had a history, a rich history. Dr. King just completed the movement, completed the legacy that was put in place by the Republican Party. It’s because of that legacy that we’re able to enjoy many freedoms.”
This abolitionist foundation, Williams said, also gave rise to such civil rights leaders as the Rev. Jesse Jackson; the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Hooks, the longtime executive director of the NAACP; and retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell — along with other such conservatives as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain.
“It gave rise to the possibility that Barack Hussein Obama could and would be president of the United States one day. But it did not start with Obama,” he said. “It did not start with Justice Thomas. It started long ago, when the GOP, the Republicans, the abolitionists, the black conservatives were the catalysts for what we celebrate today.”
Race is endemic to America, Williams said, but the nation has moved beyond it.
“Race is a part of our DNA, and there’s no way to escape it. It did not start with us. It started with our founding fathers, but they could not even live up to and adhere to the principles of equality for all.
“It wasn’t until slavery became so identifiable with cotton that people realized that they could cash in and exploit slaves to do this kind of labor,” Williams said. “It created this chasm, this divide in America, which led to the civil war.
“And, yes, of course, slavery, racism — those dirty ‘isms’ — will always be a part of our fabric, but the beauty of it is that at least 95 percent of the people in this country have moved away from those ‘isms’ — and they really judge people by the content of their character, and the color of their skin is irrelevant.
“President Obama would not be president today if it were not for white Americans, Jewish Americans, Latino Americans,” he continued. “They celebrated him because they felt that his hope and change would work for America. The only reason why the country’s so divided today and is so critical of him is because he’s failed to live up to the promises that he made.
“But in spite of that, look at what happened with Herman Cain. Herman Cain showed that white Americans could care less about race, especially those in the Republican Party,” Williams said. “They were willing to support and vote for Herman Cain over the entire field of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and all of the candidates at that time.
“It showed that Americans had really moved beyond race and were willing to vote for the candidate that identified with their value system, that identified with the kind of America that they wanted, that identified with the kind of common sense that seems to have been lost in this country.
“The great thing about Martin Luther King’s birthday is that Americans should feel good about the progress that we made in the area of race relations,” Williams concluded, “whether we’re talking about a President Barack Obama, whether we’re talking about Herman Cain, because Herman Cain’s candidacy has clearly shown to us that Americans have moved beyond the issue of race.”
He added that President Obama, unlike Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, is free to name the best-qualified candidates to his cabinet, not just those based on race.
“No Democratic white president or Republican president would be held to the same standard if their cabinet was as less diversified as President Obama,” he said. “President Obama has finally realized that you should not make appointments based on race or based on ethnicity. He’s really shown us that we can make the best choices. They were appointed because they were the best and the brightest.”
More importantly, however, Williams said that King would give House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders a private “tongue lashing” for not reaching out to minorities.
“He would say to them: ‘How dare you rob this country of democracy and freedom by your not pursuing all Americans for your party, especially black Americans?’ ” Williams began. "'How dare you squander and concede this to the Democratic Party, and they continue to win these resounding elections because you continue to rob American blacks by not letting them realize that they’re welcome to this party — that they have a place, not in the kitchen but at the head table?'"
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