GOP lawmakers praise MLK after trying to throw out Black votes

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'I encourage you to study my father more comprehensively,' the Civil Rights icon's daughter, Bernice King, tweeted in response to one Republican.

Dozens of Republican lawmakers on Monday issued statements celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the legacy of the late Civil Rights icon, despite trying to throw out votes from predominantly Black cities in an effort to block President-elect Joe Biden's election victory less than two weeks ago.

After months of pushing Donald Trump's lies about widespread election and voter fraud, which have been thoroughly debunked by his own administration, more than 100 GOP House members voted on Jan. 6 to reject certification of the Electoral College results, with a handful of Republican senators in tow.

The decision to block certification — a direct contrast to King's push to expand voting rights to Black Americans — notably targeted votes from majority Black and brown cities, in states like Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), one of the Republican senators who initially supported voting against certification of Biden's Electoral College victory, penned a letter to his Black constituents last week, apologizing for his role in the effort, saying he "did not realize was all of the national conversation about states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, was seen as casting doubt on the validity of votes coming out of predominantly Black communities like Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Detroit."

Still, many other Republicans have been unapologetic since casting a vote to block Biden's victory, ignoring their own actions and celebrating King's legacy regardless.

On Monday, King's daughter, Bernice King, pointed out that the Republicans who were tweeting praise about King would not have supported him when he was alive.

"Please don’t act like everyone loved my father," she tweeted. "He was assassinated. A 1967 poll reflected that he was one of the most hated men in America. Most hated. Many who quote him now and evoke him to deter justice today would likely hate, and may already hate, the authentic King."

She specifically called out Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert (CO), who posted a tweet celebrating King's life despite her role in actively inciting the deadly attack at the Capitol.

"I encourage you to study my father more comprehensively and to attend @TheKingCenter's virtual sessions on his nonviolent philosophy and his work to eradicate racism, war and poverty. A powerful book to start with is his last one, 'Where Do We Go From Here...'" Bernice King tweeted in response to Boebert.

Many of the tweets from lawmakers who voted to overturn Biden's win included the same graphics, suggesting the messaging was coordinated by Republican leadership.

Some issued more unique statements.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), who is facing calls to resign after he explicitly called for threats against lawmakers who would not block Biden's win, used MLK to call for unity.

"American's must link arms and press forward as one people. It's time to forsake partisan politicking and work for people, not party. Read my thoughts as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day," Cawthorn tweeted, linking to a fuller statement about unity.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), one of the senators who led the charge to overturn Biden's win by pushing voter fraud lies, also issued a video statement praising King.

"Now more than ever, we are reminded of the power of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words, calling on all of us to have 'the courage to face the uncertainties of the future,' 'as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom,'" Cruz tweeted, adding. "Reverend King spoke out courageously against inequality and racial injustice, and his legacy continues to inspire us to work together to secure the blessing of freedom for all Americans. May we never forget this responsibility."

The GOP effort to invalidate Biden's win by targeting Black votes came at a cost, ultimately inciting a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol the same day as the Electoral College certification, a violent attempt to stop Biden from taking office. Federal officials have warned that similar acts of violence and extremism could take place ahead of the inauguration on Jan. 20, citing plans by far-right groups who have bought into the notion that Trump's reelection was stolen from him.

Bernice King addressed those threats on Sunday evening.

"How telling that, in the United States, groups of mostly white people are planning armed anti-democracy action in defense of white nationalism and white slave-holder 'Christian' supremacy on #MLKDay," she tweeted.

Quoting her father, she added, "'America, you must be born again!'"

Meanwhile, as threats loom and Republicans attempt to do damage control, Trump — who baselessly pushed racist voter fraud lies about heavily Black cities like Detroit and Milwaukee for months — is spending his final Martin Luther King Day in office finalizing pardons for his political allies, rather than volunteering to celebrate King's legacy.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.