Former President Carter on Wednesday lauded Martin Luther King Jr. as the greatest leader in American history, saying the slain civil rights leader would be aghast at many recent political and societal developments.
Carter was one of the featured speakers at the Lincoln Memorial during the 50th anniversary celebration of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Carter, hearkening back to comments he made while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, called King “the greatest leader that my native state, and perhaps my native country, has ever produced, and I [am] not excluding presidents and even the Founding Fathers.”
Carter went on to say that King would oppose a great many developments and trends in modern America.
“I believe we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the new ID requirements to exclude certain voters, especially African-Americans,” said Carter. “I think we all know how Dr. King would have reacted to the Supreme Court striking down a crucial part of the Voting Rights Act just recently passed overwhelmingly by Congress.”
Carter continued in a similar manner, saying “we all know” how King would feel about the proliferation of guns and “Stand Your Ground” laws in the United States, as well as high rates of black unemployment and the fact that one-third of blacks spend time in prison at some point in their lives.
He even touched upon the issue of D.C. statehood, drawing his loudest cheer from the crowd after saying “we know how Dr. King would have reacted to people in the District of Columbia still not having full citizenship rights.”
Carter also suggested he could personally credit King for his election as president, saying that he, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama all owed their elections to King’s efforts to overturn laws that prevented blacks from voting.
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