How MLK Channeled the Spirit of 1776

The Daily Signal | 1/17/2020 | Staff
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Jarrett Stepman is a contributor to The Daily Signal and co-host of The Right Side of History podcast. Send an email to Jarrett. He is also the author of the new book, "The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America's Past."

Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a federal holiday when it was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.

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As Americans celebrate MLK Day, it’s important to recognize the contributions of King and the tradition of ideas he espoused that put him in the pantheon of great Americans.

The federal holiday may have been created in 1983, but the true origin of King’s legacy reaches all the way back to 1776.

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Some of the loudest voices in today’s discourse insist that America’s origin is fundamentally flawed and broken. The New York Times’ recently-launched 1619 Project, for instance, aims to “reframe” America’s past to convince Americans that slavery and racism are the true heart of our civilization. The project’s headline essay declared that “our founding ideals of liberty and equality were false.”

One man who didn’t think our founding ideals were false: Martin Luther King Jr.

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While the study of slavery is essential to understanding America’s past, it is also vital to recognize just how much of a connection King had to the Founding Fathers and the ideas that animated them.

Those ideas were born in the context of a world in which tyranny was the norm. Political rule of, by, and for the people was no more than an experiment.

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Much like Frederick Douglass, King didn’t shy away from criticizing America for failing to uphold the “self-evident” truths cited in its founding documents.

In particular, as I explain in my book “The War on History: The Conspiracy to Rewrite America’s Past,” King followed a thread of ideas stemming from Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Daily Signal
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