It’s Time to Know the True History of Dr. King and Native Americans


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By David Carr, Word in Black

Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for the desegregation of Native Americans and inspired much of the modern-day movement for Native rights, including water rights and tribal sovereignty.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for more than just the Black community. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

On Monday, January 15the United States will celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and pay homage to the civil rights leader who helped move the nation to live up to its potential.  

While much has been written about King’s community organizing, his guidance in the Southern Leadership Conference, and his amazing rhetorical skills, we still have much to learn about the civil rights leader who dared to dream. It is not widely known that while King obviously was serious about securing civil rights for African Americans and healing the wounds and divisions between Black and white, he was also a vocal and proud supporter of Native American civil rights.  

King specifically advocated for the desegregation of Native Americans and inspired much of the modern-day movement for Native rights, including water rights and tribal sovereignty. 

In his 1963 book, “Why We Can’t Wait,” King did not hold back with it came to his feelings on the treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government.

Learn more about Dr. King’s activism.

Read about the struggle for equal rights in our virtual exhibits.

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