MLK's Niece: What Reid Was Really Saying is 'Now We Have a White House Negro'
January 12, 2010 - 5:35 PMThe niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has denounced racially charged comments Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) made about then-Sen. Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.
The new book “Game Change” (Harper) about the 2008 presidential race states that Reid “believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama – a ‘light-skinned’ African American ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,’ as he later put it privately.”
Democratic leaders have defended Reid, as have black activists such as Rev. Al Sharpton, but Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., views the controversy differently.
“I don’t care who said it,” she told CNSNews.com. “It doesn’t matter to me. It’s still wrong. It’s outrageous to say that we are going to let a man have a position because he is light-skinned and he uses a Negro dialect when it is convenient.
“I think that’s terrible,” she said. “What he’s really saying is, ‘Now we have a White House Negro.’
“A long time ago you had house Negros and field Negros. I don’t think people are seeing it that way,” King said in reference to terminology used during the time of American slavery. “Basically, what he is saying is, if you have light skin and a particular education, we’ll let you in the House. If not, you need to stay in the field. I’m sorry. That’s what I hear.”
You can listen to Dr. King's remarks here.
Alveda King, a pro-life and civil rights activist, is the daughter of the Rev. A. D. King, who was also a civil rights leader like Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose national holiday will be observed next Monday. She is the founder of King for America Inc.
The type of thinking by Reid “is sadly outrageous, no matter what the ethnic or political viewpoint happens to be,” King said
"Game Change" was written by Time magazine's Mark Halperin and New York magazine's John Heilemann.
Over the weekend, Reid apologized to President Obama about his remarks, and the president accepted the apology.
“I’ve apologized to the president,” Reid said Monday in Apex, Nev., in his first public comments about the topic since the book’s publication. He said he told everyone “within the sound of my voice that I could have used a better choice of words.”
“I’ll continue to do my work for the African American community,” Reid continued. “I’m not going to dwell on this anymore.”
King welcomed Reid’s apology but said actions are more important.
“I believe Sen. Reid’s apology was a good place to start,” King said. “If he really means what he’s saying, he needs to take eugenics and genocide abortion funding out of all legislation in Washington, D.C. A lip service apology is simply that. But if his actions mean, ‘I’m not a racist, I really want to help African Americans,’ he could start by making sure that no more of us are killed through legislation that is going to pay for genocide.”
She said that the King family has a philosophy of a “beloved community,” which sees all humans as the same.
“We serve the human race. One race that is human,” King said. “Then you have Sen. Reid saying, ‘We’re going to elect somebody to office because he’s light-skinned and has the absence of a Negro dialect unless he wants to use it.’ … The beloved community is a community of one human race where we serve each other with love and compassion. And certainly any remarks like Senator Reid has issued don’t really have a place in the beloved community.”
In early 2002, Senator Lott was pushed to resign from his leadership post after praising South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) at his 100th birthday party. Lott said of Thurmond – who had, in 1948, run as a third-party segregationist candidate for president – “I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”
King acknowledged a double standard in comparing the two instances.
“The double standard sets up Trent Lott – we’re going to run you out on a rail, but we’ll let Sen. Reid say something like this,” said King. “But let’s bring it up to now. Basically, what he [Reid] is saying is, if you have light skin and a particular education, we’ll let you in the House. If not, you need to stay in the field. I’m sorry, that’s what I hear.”