Was King a Pan-Africanist? Martin Luther King and the African Liberation Movements
Was King a Pan-Africanist? Martin Luther King Jr. and the African Liberation Movements. By Kenechukwu Nwosu
The King-era civil rights movement coincided closely with the peak of freedom struggles on the African continent. When the Montgomery bus boycott began in December 1955, all but four African nations were under colonial rule; when King delivered his last public speech on April 3, 1968, thirty-six African countries had gained their independence. Most scholarship on King’s international involvement neglects his relationship with Africa, focusing instead on his dealings with India and Vietnam. The few scholarly works that exist tend to paint far too simplistic a picture of this relationship, suggesting that the …show more content…
King and Coretta arrived in Accra on March 4, and attended a short reception and the closing of the British parliament in the first two days. On March 6 at midnight, they witnessed the official ceremony where the British Union Jack was replaced by the new Ghanaian flag. As the bold new flag of Ghana was being raised, Kwame Nkrumah passionately declared to the large crowd gathered, “Ghana is free!” King remembered being deeply moved as he watched the excited Ghanaians cheering and weeping with pride. King simply “stood there, thinking about so many things. Before I knew it, I started weeping. I was crying for joy. And I knew about all of the struggles, and all of the pain, and all of the agony that these people had gone through for this moment.“ Coretta wrote later that they “felt a strong sense of kinship… with these African people… We were so proud of our African Heritage, and saw in Ghana a symbol of the hopes and aspirations of all our people” Amidst all the ecstasy, they were reminded of their identity as Africans.
King’s experiences during the visit also brought him to a new realization of the deleterious nature of imperialism. Most of his hosts in Accra had several servants to take care of household duties. The servants were paid “only twenty-eight cents a day, the result of