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A Billboard Over MLK Boulevard Claims the Civil Rights Leader Was a Republican

A Raging Elephants billboard went up in Austin.
A Raging Elephants billboard went up in Austin.
RagingElephants.org

Say you're a Republican activist hoping to woo black voters, but you're faced with the inconvenient truth that the opposing party elected the country's first African American president. What do you do? You put the one African American figure who more iconic than Barack Obama on a billboard above his namesake street, and tell you people he was a Republican.

That's Claver Kamau-Imani's strategy, at least. The Houston-based founder of Raging Elephants.org rented ad space overlooking Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Dallas and plastered it with the image of the civil right icon urging passersby to vote Republican.

CBS 11 visited the location and discovered that passersby weren't terribly happy with the message, nor was civil rights leader Peter Johnson.

"Using his image is one thing, exploiting his legacy is another," he told the station. "To distort his legacy, it's sacred to some of us. We know the suffering and sacrifice that was made."

King wasn't a Republican. PolitiFact Texas debunked Kamau-Imani's assertion back in January, well before he put the message on a billboard. King wasn't exactly a Democrat either, but his views aligned much more closely with that party than with the GOP, who were quickly replacing Southern Dems as the main defenders of the racial status quo.

But Kamau-Imani isn't a man to let his actions be dictated by fact checkers, nor by the thought that he'll offend a humongous portion of the electorate. And that's a strategy that works exceedingly well, especially this time of year.


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