'What an insult': Outrage over choice of Mike Huckabee to deliver keynote speech at MLK breakfast
Mike Huckabee at a book signing at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The announcement that former Arkansas governor and Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee has been selected to be the keynote speaker at the 2022 Annual MLK Interfaith Prayer Breakfast on Jan 17th in Little Rock is facing a backlash with critics pointing out his attacks on Black community and Black Lives Matter in particular.

According to the Arkansas Times, "The announcement 'the Arkansas Martin Luther King Commission’s choice of former Governor Mike Huckabee to speak at an invitation-only prayer breakfast that is part of the Jan. 17 observance of MLK Day by the state commission,' is not going over well -- with one activist bluntly calling it "an insult" to the civil rights leader.

In a letter to the Times, the Arkansas Democratic Black Caucus wrote, in part: "Arkansas is very fortunate to have a Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission. At its best, this taxpayer-supported state agency is empowered to educate all Arkansans by amplifying the life and legacy of a great American minister and activist who helped advance the progress of racial equity in our country. In this spirit, we write to express our deep disappointment and true outrage with the MLK Commission’s decision to select former Governor Mike Huckabee as guest speaker for the annual MLK Interfaith Prayer Breakfast on the King holiday, January 17, 2022 at the Governor’s Mansion."

The letter continued, "During his 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Huckabee attacked Black Lives Matter, erroneously stating that the movement 'elevates some lives over others' and claiming that Dr. King would be 'appalled by the movement.' His out-of-touch comment was quickly denounced by Martin Luther King III who insisted that his father would embrace the movement and would 'be very proud of young people standing up to promote truth, justice and equality,'" before adding, "And let’s not forget that Mr. Huckabee has publicly shared suggestions for suppressing voting rights using fraud and trickery."

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In conclusion, they wrote, "Arkansans who support our stand to skip the 'invitation only' event and to let the MLK Commission know they should do better. Call them at 501-683-1300 or email them at Dushun.Scarbrough@ade.arkansas.gov."

Little Rock activist Dr. Anika Whitfield, also chimed in by writing, "What an insult to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to invite Mike Huckabee, a person who walked away from pastoring to pursue a political and television career."

"Mike Huckabee has unapologetically used his political and televised roles to support the denial of human rights and the systemic oppression of people through imposing poverty, and creating discriminatory laws and policies based on race, religion, and identity," Whitfield added before continuing, "His separatist theology and philosophy expressed through his support of voter suppression laws and his candid, culturally offensive and judgmental statements are staunchly opposing to the loving theology and philosophy that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. embodied in his living and his legacy."

Bolstering their case, Arkansas Times' senior editor Max Brantley questioned why the controversial former governor was even considered, before adding, "Huckabee is a man who, along with many other Republicans, stiffed an invitation to attend the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington at which King gave his immortal 'dream' speech. Huckabee is a man who called the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the King family’s focus of the day, 'dangerous.'"

You can read more here.