Wendell Griffen, the Baptist pastor and circuit judge, writes that the choice of former Gov. Mike Huckabee as a speaker at a state-sponsored, invitation-only event on M. L. King Day Jan. 17 is an example of what he characterizes as the “re-assassination” of the late civil rights leader.

The Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission has announced Huckabee will be the main speaker at an invitation-only “prayer breakfast” at the Governor’s Mansion. Commission Director Dushun Scarbrough has not responded to my Freedom of Information Act requests for information about the event, including the guest list and how it came to pass that the father of the Republican candidate for governor and an opponent of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act was chosen.

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The Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus has been among those objecting to Huckabee’s selection. Further protests are planned.

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Griffen sees the selection in the context of the failure of the country to heed KIng’s call, in a speech opposing the war in Vietnam a year before his death, for a radical revolution. Racism, militarism and materialism have not been confronted and sexism (including homophobia and transphobia), classism, and techno-centrism have been added to the mix, Griffen writes. Platitudes are now delivered for King, but his teaching is ignored.

It is bad enough that politicians and pundits do so. Now the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission has invited Mike Huckabee to deliver the keynote speech during a January 17, 2022, event intended to commemorate the King holiday. Huckabee is a Fox News right-wing commentator, former Arkansas governor, and white Southern (slaveholder) Baptist preacher. His daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was spokesperson for former President Donald Trump’s vicious policies and is a Republican candidate for governor of Arkansas this year.

Such contradictory behavior amounts to what I have called “re-assassination” of Martin Luther King Jr.  King’s ministry and message is being re-murdered by drone warfare, NSA surveillance, a militarized law enforcement culture, and our support for regimes that use military force to oppress minority populations in this society and elsewhere in the world (militarism), and by the half-truths and outright lies uttered to defend those actions.

By rejecting King’s call to reorder priorities, Griffen writes, we risk losing the moral authority to claim to be agents for peace, justice and truth.

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Now that the State of Arkansas has proudly announced its intention to “re-assassinate King” by having an un-reconstructed Southern Baptist preacher and right wing politician named Mike Huckabee deliver a “keynote address” on the King holiday at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion at the invitation of the state agency that bears King’s name, we should be clear what its conduct means.

A society that behaves this way has gone beyond a death rattle. It is already morally and ethically dead.

We are attending the visitation.

I’ve again asked Scarbrough today about responses to my FOI, which he has failed to acknowledge. I’ve also sought comments from Education Secretary Johnny Key, under whose jurisdiction the King Commission falls, and Governor Hutchinson, who’ll be hosting the event.

UPDATE: Huckabee found a Democratic defender that he thanked on Twitter. To Skip I’ll just say, Huckabee 25 years ago sang a different tune than he sings today.

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