Martin Luther King Supported Planned Parenthood
There’s a lot of unknown history floating around. Some of it is uncomfortable to read. Every political side has any number of skeletons that they want kept buried.
I’m thankful to see black groups and pastors standing up for the unborn. There’s the Black Genocide website that tells the truth about the number of black babies being destroyed in the womb. Time was, even Jesse Jackson described abortion as a form of “genocide” until he saw that the money was greener with the pro-abortionists. See the timeline of Jackson’s flip-flop on the issue.
There’s also the group of pastors who want the bust of Margaret Sanger removed from the National Portrait Gallery “Struggle for Justice” exhibit at the Smithsonian. This is a good thing.
What is not a good thing is to use Martin Luther King as an opponent of Planned Parenthood.
Few people know that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a public supporter of Planned Parenthood. He received the PPFA Margaret Sanger Award on May 5, 1966, the first year the award was given. The citation read in part,
“This award is presented to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., for his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity. . . . In the tradition of all great humanitarians who have seen that human life and progress are indeed indivisible, Dr. King has lent his eloquent voice to the cause of world-wide voluntary family planning.”
Coretta Scott King delivered her husband’s acceptance speech on his behalf. According to Planned Parenthood, “Before reading Dr. King’s speech, Mrs. King declared, ‘I am proud tonight to say a word in behalf of your mentor, and the person who symbolizes the ideas of this organization, Margaret Sanger. Because of her dedication, her deep convictions, and for her suffering for what she believed in, I would like to say that I am proud to be a woman tonight.’”
The following is excerpted from Dr. King’s acceptance speech. The entire speech and other information about the award can be found here.
There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts. She, like we, saw the horrifying conditions of ghetto life. Like we, she knew that all of society is poisoned by cancerous slums. Like we, she was a direct actionist — a nonviolent resister. She was willing to accept scorn and abuse until the truth she saw was revealed to the millions. At the turn of the century she went into the slums and set up a birth control clinic, and for this deed she went to jail because she was violating an unjust law. Yet the years have justified her actions. She launched a movement which is obeying a higher law to preserve human life under humane conditions. Margaret Sanger had to commit what was then called a crime in order to enrich humanity, and today we honor her courage and vision; for without them there would have been no beginning.
Our sure beginning in the struggle for equality by nonviolent direct action may not have been so resolute without the tradition established by Margaret Sanger and people like her. Negroes have no mere academic nor ordinary interest in family planning. They have a special and urgent concern….
[O]ne element in stabilizing his [sic] life would be an understanding of and easy access to the means to develop a family related in size to his community environment and to the income potential he can command.
This is not to suggest that the Negro will solve all his problems through Planned Parenthood. His problems are far more complex, encompassing economic security, education, freedom from discrimination, decent housing and access to culture. Yet if family planning is sensible it can facilitate or at least not be an obstacle to the solution of the many profound problems that plague him….
Some commentators point out that with present birth rates it will not be long before Negroes are a majority in many of the major cities of the nation. As a consequence, they can be expected to take political control, and many people are apprehensive at this prospect. Negroes do not seek political control by this means. They seek only what they are entitled to and do not wish for domination purchased at the cost of human misery. Negroes were once bred by slave owners to be sold as merchandise. They do not welcome any solution which involves population breeding as a weapon. They are instinctively sympathetic to all who offer methods that will improve their lives and offer them fair opportunity to develop and advance as all other people in our society.
For these reasons we are natural allies of those who seek to inject any form of planning in our society that enriches life and guarantees the right to exist in freedom and dignity….
“About two weeks after the award ceremony, Dr. King wrote the following letter to Cass Canfield, chairman of the Executive Committee of the PPFA — World Population Emergency Campaign:
Dear Mr. Canfield:
Words are inadequate for me to say how honored I was to be the recipient of the Margaret Sanger Award. This award will remain among my most cherished possessions. While I cannot claim to be worthy of such a signal honor, I can assure you that I accept it with deep humility and sincere gratitude. Such a wonderful expression of support is of inestimable value for the continuance of my humble efforts.