Civil Rights: Martin Luther King or President Johnson?

Edwards Takes Side in Clinton-MLK Controversy
by Cristina Corbin

Speaking before a predominantly African-American congregation at the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Sumter, South Carolina, John Edwards criticized Hillary Clinton and her husband for comments they made last week just before the New Hampshire primary vote.

“I’m gonna say I was troubled recently to see a suggestion that real change came not through the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, but through a Washington politician,” Edwards said. “I fundamentally disagree with that. Those who believe that real change starts with Washington politicians have been in Washington too long and are living in a fairy tale.”

Though he did not mention Hillary Clinton by name, Edwards sought to address a statement she recently made, which some thought gave President Lyndon B. Johnson more credit than Martin Luther King for civil rights laws. Edwards’ use of “fairy tale” seemed to be a gibe at Bill Clinton’s “fairy tale” characterization of Obama’s Iraq War position.

The Clintons have since defended their remarks, claiming they were purposely distorted by rival campaigns for political gain—and were not intended to depreciate Dr. King’s influence or degrade Barack Obama.

In his address to the congregation, Edwards praised Obama for his political achievements.

“This may come as a surprise to some of you coming from another presidential candidate,” Edwards said, “but as someone who grew up in the segregated South, I feel an enormous amount of pride when I see the success that Senator Barack Obama is having in this campaign.”

Edwards’ support of Obama continued: “The hopes that both Senator Obama and I have for this nation and this country that we love so much, these are not false hopes. They’re real hopes.”

At a press conference following Edwards’ speech, a reporter asked if he was running for Barack Obama’s Vice President instead of the Democratic nominee.

“I’m running for the Democratic nomination,” Edwards said in response, adding with a smile, “I think maybe he should be running for my VP.”

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