Martin Luther King Jr.'s son blasts North Carolina Republican Mark Robinson (2024)

Martin Luther King III, the son of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. said his father “would be gravely disappointed” by North Carolina’s potential first Black governor.

Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, the state’s firebrand GOP gubernatorial candidate, has made waves for controversial comments on a range of issues, including endorsing antisemitic conspiracies and calling hom*osexuality “filth.”

Robinson has also referred to Martin Luther King Jr. as an “ersatz pastor” and “communist” in past Facebook posts.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s son blasts North Carolina Republican Mark Robinson (1)

Martin Luther King III, 66, a human rights activist himself, is speaking out against the current North Carolina lieutenant governor in a new series of ads.

“But it’s not the petty insults that bother me,” King said in one thirty-second video. “It’s his outright rejection of the Civil Rights movement my father and so many other lived and died for.” Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968 in the midst of the civil rights movement and growing anti-Vietnam War protests.

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Robinson claimed previouslythat “so many freedoms were lost” during the civil rights movement, during an appearance on a 2018 podcast first reported by CNN.

“As my father said,” King’s eldest son said in response, “nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Martin Luther King Jr.'s son blasts North Carolina Republican Mark Robinson (2)

'Nothing like my father'

The videos spotlighting Martin Luther King III are part of a seven-figure campaignby Progress NC Action, a liberal-leaning advocacy organization that has come out hard against Robinson's gubernatorial bid.

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In response, a spokesman for Robinson's campaign criticized the group as "another far-left, partisan group pushing extremist priorities."

"They’re completely out of step with North Carolinians and desperate to cover up the racist smears from Joe Biden, Josh Stein and the Democrats," said Mike Lonergan, the campaign's communications director, referring to Robinson’s opponent and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

If elected in November, Robinson would be the state's first Black governor.

Running on social media, streaming television, online and print media, the ads launched on Father’s Day Sunday and ahead of Juneteenth, a federal holiday honoring the events of June 19, 1865, in Galveston, Texas when the last enslaved Black Americans were ordered free.

King told USA TODAY he felt called to weigh in on what is expected to be the most contentious race for governor in 2024.

“Mark Robinson's history of racist, hom*ophobic, and bigoted comments show that he is unfit to lead in North Carolina,” King said in a statement, adding that he and his wife, Arndrea Waters King, "felt that it was necessary to speak out against his—and the former President's—usage of my father's name to promote hatred.”

Martin Luther King Jr.'s son blasts North Carolina Republican Mark Robinson (3)

Former President and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has given Robinson his full endorsem*nt. And in the process referred to the North Carolina conservative as “Martin Luther King on steroids.”

“I told that to Mark,” Trump said at a rally in North Carolina days ahead of Super Tuesday and the state’s primary elections March 5. “I said, I think you’re better than Martin Luther King. I think you are Martin Luther King times two.”

King called the remarks an insult to his father and family’s name.

“We have spent our lives fighting against the hate that Lt. Gov. Robinson propagates on a daily basis,” he told USA TODAY in a statement, “and we want to be clear: My father would not support Mark Robinson, and Mark Robinson is nothing like my father.”

Martin Luther King Jr.'s son blasts North Carolina Republican Mark Robinson (4)

Raleigh Pastor Mitch Summerfield, who said he was “100% appalled” by Robinson’s statements on the civil rights movement, said watching the videos of King “brought chills.”

“I was like, wow, that was so eloquently said, but so true,” Summerfield said. “That just spoke volumes to me.”

Stakes are high in the Tar Heel State

Robinson and Stein’s contest stands to be 2024’s marquee gubernatorial race, while their state is being closely watched as the electorate that could help decide the presidency.

North Carolina – once reliably red for Republican White House contenders – is now a southern battleground Democrats believe they have a shot at taking this November.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s son blasts North Carolina Republican Mark Robinson (5)

Trump carried the state in 2020, but by 1.3%– his smallest margin of victory that election. In 2016, Trump won in North Carolina, defeating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 3.6%.

Still, the former president leads current President Joe Biden by five percentage points in a poll published earlier this month by East Carolina University Center for Survey Research.

And in that same survey, Robinson and Stein are neck-and-neck, with the Democratic nominee leading by just a point.

Summerfield, who put together a hard copy collection of Robinson's past comments to share with his congregation, has been encouraging people to get out and vote. He believes the new campaign with King will get people’s attention.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s son blasts North Carolina Republican Mark Robinson (6)

“The things that he's been saying,” Summerfield said of Robinson. “These are the things that, you know, a religious leader and political person should not be making, these are statements that should not come out of their mouth.”

Robinson, identifying himself as an evangelical Christian,has addressed church congregations and Christian audiences on multiple occasions.

“A huge percentage of Americans today go to church, especially African Americans,” Summerfield said. “If he can get in front of them, I mean, it can really be detrimental ... I do believe that he uses his theology as a weapon.”

Robinson goes back and forth on civil rights movement

Democrats in the state, including Stein, have sought to use Robinson’s past statements against him, particularly with North Carolina’s high share of unaffiliated voters.

Many of those controversial remarks come from Robinson’s pre-politics days.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s son blasts North Carolina Republican Mark Robinson (7)

Robinson first captured attention in 2018 speaking as a resident during a Greensboro City Council meeting. His fervent defense of gun rights went viral and soon after Robinson rose to fame in conservative circles.

His first foray into politics followed, and in 2020, Robinson became North Carolina’s first Black lieutenant governor.

Robinson has since softened some of his public rhetoric, even contradicting his past claims.

In his 2018 podcast appearance, Robinson called the 1960 Woolworth lunch counter sit-in protests in Greensboro – his hometown – “a ridiculous premise.”

“You go down there, and you sit at the lunch counter, and you demand for these people to take your money. How crazy is that?” he said at the time.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s son blasts North Carolina Republican Mark Robinson (8)

Robinson visited the Greensboro Civil Rights Museum, the site of the former lunch counter and protests, last August. While there, the GOP candidate called it "an honor to be called a citizen of Greensboro."

"I think it's great that this cityholds the distinction for starting the movement that changed the face of the entire nation," Robinson said then.

Robinson has also earned the endorsem*nt of one of the sit-in participants, Clarence Henderson.

“I tell you what, I couldn’t be more proud of what you did in the past,” Robinson told Henderson in a video of the pair posted to social media last May.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s son blasts North Carolina Republican Mark Robinson (2024)


Did Martin Luther King go to North Carolina? ›

Martin Luther King, Jr. made many public visits to central North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s, including to Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro, and Rocky Mount, he only made two known visits to western North Carolina – in January 1964 and August 1965.

Did Martin Luther King, Jr. skip two grades in high school? ›

Martin Luther King, Jr. skipped both grades nine and twelve.

What are three important facts about Martin Luther King, Jr.'s childhood? ›

was born on Tuesday, January 15, 1929 at the family home in Atlanta, Georgia. He lived with his parents, Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King, as well as his grandparents and his two siblings, Christine and Alfred Daniel Williams King. The King children all took piano lessons from their mother.

What state refused to recognize MLK Day? ›

On January 12, 1987, Mecham rescinded Babbitt's executive order causing Arizona to become the only state to de-recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

What state did Martin Luther King live in? ›

(born January 15, 1929, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.—died April 4, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee) was a Baptist minister and social activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

Why was Martin Luther King assassinated? ›

He is supported by author Gerald Posner, who wrote Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), concluding that Ray killed King, acting alone, likely for the hope of collecting a racist bounty for the murder.

Who was Martin Luther King Short answer? ›

Answer: Martin Luther King was also known as MLK Jr. He gained popularity after he became the leader and spokesperson of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. Martin Luther King was an American activist, minister, and humanitarian.

Did Martin Luther King have 5 kids? ›

The civil rights leader and wife Coretta Scott King were parents to four kids: sons Martin Luther King III, 66, and Dexter, and daughters Yolanda and Bernice, 61. All four of MLK's children were quite young when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Was MLK a doctor? ›

5. In what disciplines did Dr. King earn his degrees? Martin earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from MorehouseCollege, his Bachelor of Divinity from Crozier Theological Seminary and his Doctorate of philosophy from BostonUniversity.

How smart was MLK Jr.? ›

King was obviously a brilliant man, but he was so smart that he skipped two grades in high school, 9th and 12th, and began his college education when he was just shy of his 16th birthday. He received his bachelor's degree in sociology from Morehouse College when he was 19.

Who did Dr. King marry? ›

Coretta Scott met Martin Luther King, Jr. in Boston, Massachusetts where they were both attending university; she at the New England Conservatory, and he at Boston University. They were married on June 18, 1953 and in September 1954 settled in Montgomery, Alabama where Dr.

Who is MLK for kids? ›

10) Martin Luther King Jr is remembered for his tireless work during the Civil Rights Movement and his dream that one day everyone would be treated as equals. A statue built in his memory now stands in Washington D.C. and each year, the third Monday in January is celebrated as Martin Luther King Jr.

What did MLK fight for? ›

No figure is more closely identified with the mid-20th century struggle for civil rights than Martin Luther King, Jr. His adoption of nonviolent resistance to achieve equal rights for Black Americans earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

How old was Martin Luther King when he was assassinated? ›

King, 39, was hit in the neck by a bullet as he stood on the balcony of a motel here. He died less than an hour later in St. Joseph's Hospital.

Is MLK a holiday in NC? ›

Section 103-4 - Dates of public holidays (a) The following are declared to be legal public holidays: (1) New Year's Day, January 1. (1a) Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, Birthday, the third Monday in January. (2) Robert E. Lee's Birthday, January 19. (3) Washington's Birthday, the third Monday in February.

What state did MLK go to college? ›

Where did Martin Luther King Jr went? ›

King received a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozer Theological Seminary in 1951 (pictured in 2009). King enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, Pennsylvania, and took several courses at the University of Pennsylvania. At Crozer, King was elected president of the student body.

Where did Martin Luther go to? ›

Luther studied at the University of Erfurt and in 1505 decided to join a monastic order, becoming an Augustinian friar. He was ordained in 1507, began teaching at the University of Wittenberg and in 1512 was made a doctor of Theology.


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