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Compare and contrast: King Day speakers of NAACP and state of Arkansas. Plus more criticism of the state platform for Mike Huckabee

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The Little Rock NAACP’s annual “marade” for M.L. King Day will go virtual this year because of the pandemic.

The timing might or might not present a conflict for those favored with an invite to the state-sponsored prayer breakfast that day at which the keynoter will be former Gov. Mike Huckabee, an avowed opponent of the John Lewis Voting Rights legislation and a frequent critic of Black politicians (Vice President Kamala Harris recently). The event is at the Governor’s Mansion. The state website doesn’t list the time nor has it yet responded to my FOI request from last Friday about terms of Huckabee’s appearance and the list of those favored with an invitation.

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None of the speakers at the NAACP event have a relative running for governor, so the organization’s event lacks the conflict of political interest presented by the taxpayer-funded Huckabee show.

I don’t know if the NAACP keynoter has a knack for potty humor and sarcasm like the state’s featured speaker. But Rev. Stephen Green is pastor of St. Luke AME Church in New York and chair of Faith for Black Lives, a faith-based social justice organization. He leads the youth and college division of the NAACP.

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Green posted this yesterday on Twitter about legislation Huckabee in September described as “dangerous”:

Which speaker do you think better embodies the spirit of the man being honored?

And speaking of the Huckabee family gubernatorial advancement event, I received a copy of this letter on the choice from an African-American and native Arkansan, Verna Clayborne of Washington, D.C. She wrote DuShun Scarbrough, director of the Arkansas King Commission:

I read with some interest and a lot of dismay recent articles about the decision by the Commission you head making a decision to invite Mike Huckabee, a man who has consistently demonstrated a disrespect for everything Dr. King stood for and represented,  to speak during this revered time to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy.
I am a product of Little Rock in that I was born and raised there. I attended Little Rock Central High School from 1963 to 1966. I was their first Black inductee to the Central High Honor Society. While I relocated to Washington DC to pursue my career goals, I frequently visit Little Rock as I still have family there and I keep current about many goings on there.

I cannot begin to express my disappointment that people in Arkansas and organizations such as the Commission, as reflected in your decision regarding Huckabee as an MLK speaker, continue to support and even embrace people who not only seek to turn the clock back to the worst of times for Americans of color; but who are actively involved in efforts to lead this country down very dark roads as they willfully participate in extinguishing every light on those roads.

It is unquestioned that Mike Huckabee has “shown people who he really is” by his many statements (some veiled, some not) and his actions that demonstrate his disdain for Black and Brown people, their contributions, their worth, their tortured history, and more importantly their rights.  The very few things that he has done or his gaslighting statements in no way outweigh his vitriol and the harm he perpetrated using his political authority and influence.

It would be comical and ridiculous to accept the denials that this invitation for him to speak wasn’t a political move designed to benefit his daughter who is running for governor; but who can find funny any such flagrant attempt to disrespect the intelligence and common sense of any reasonable person to whom this claim is made.

I have always held proud everything my beginnings in Arkansas provided me and served to help me make my way in life over these past 50 plus years.  I am both hurt and ashamed that the Commission’s decision in this matter reflects to the world, a state where those who should be at the forefront of the ongoing battle for equality and parity, still suffer from the “step and fetch it” syndrome.

Also: A statement from Josh Price, the Democratic candidate for the office — secretary of state — that oversees elections in the state.

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It is disappointing that the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission chose Mike Huckabee, who until recently has been a Florida resident for 10 years, as their keynote speaker for the annual prayer breakfast.

Was there literally no other option available besides Mike Huckabee, who has a history of sowing disunity and a desire to make it tougher for Americans to vote?

As the son of an Asian-American immigrant, I found it distasteful and offensive when Huckabee tweeted last year that he would “identify as Chinese” in order to garner favor from large corporations — a crude and insensitive comment right after the brutal killing of six Asian American women in Georgia. Hate crimes against Asian Americans are at all-time highs in the US, and Huckabee’s comments only added fuel to the fire.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for the voting rights and civil rights of all Americans. Dr. King’s life work changed America and helped set it on a path toward equality and justice. “Florida Man” Mike Huckabee’s statements show that he does not embody the ideals of Dr. King and does not deserve to be the keynote speaker at any event meant to honor Dr. King’s legacy.”