MLK Spent the Last Year of His Life Hated by the Liberal Establishment

(INTERCEPT) In 1999, the polling agency Gallup set out to determine the individuals Americans most admired in the 20th century.

Mother Teresa came in first, with 49 percent of Americans putting her at the top; the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ranked second, with 34 percent placing him on the same list. But, the polling agency would later write, “King was far from universally revered during his lifetime.” They noted that in 1966, 63 percent of Americans held a negative view of the civil rights leader, while just 32 percent held a positive one. This was a marked reversal from five years earlier, when 41 percent of Americans gave King a positive rating and 37 percent a negative one.

King’s slide in popularity coincided with his activism taking a turn from what Americans largely know him for — his campaign for civil rights in the American South — to a much more radical one aimed at the war in Vietnam and poverty.

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By Zaid Jilani / Republished with permission / The Intercept

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