Featured photo: Mark Robinson, our current lieutenant governor, is running for governor this year. (photo by Indy Week)
As we celebrate the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week, I’ve been reflecting on how my hometown has been at the forefront of just about every major movement of justice in the United States, from the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter.
Greensboro was the first city in the country to integrate public golf courses, the first to integrate public hospitals, and of course, the site of the Woolworth lunch counter protests that launched the sit-in movement. One of my fondest memories as a child is of my mother placing my feet on a historical marker in downtown Greensboro that traces the feet of the A&T Four in front of the now International Civil Rights Museum, which houses their courageous protest. As a Greensboro native, it feels like the fight for justice is in our blood.
That’s why it pains me that my fellow Greensboro native, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, has repeatedly denigrated the Civil Rights Movement at large and even our hometown heroes specifically. He has said the Civil Rights Movement was a communist plot to “subvert capitalism” and used “to subvert free choice” and that “so many freedoms were lost during the Civil Rights Movement.”
Robinson is running for governor this year.
He even called the successful Greensboro lunch counter protests a “ridiculous premise” designed to pull “the rug out from underneath capitalism and free choice and the free market.”
Robinson has shown no shame in belittling our Civil Rights icons, even addressing John Lewis on Facebook in 2017, and saying “just because you got beat up… in 1965 doesn’t mean you can’t get criticized”.
Robinson is running away from our city’s history of being a hub for freedom and liberation and into the arms of the most discriminatory and hateful right-wing politics our country has to offer. And he has been rewarded for his troubles.
Just last month, the former president Donald Trump endorsed Robinson at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. In his endorsement, Trump said he told Robinson, “I think you’re better than Dr. Martin Luther King.” Trump followed up with, “I think he didn’t like that comparison, but he accepted it.”
Of course, Dr. King and Mark Robinson couldn’t be further apart. While Dr. King preached nonviolence, Robinson has bragged about potential violence, saying he has an AR-15 in case the “government gets too big for its britches.” And while Dr. King believed in loving one’s enemies, Robinson has called his political opponents “cowards” who will face the “vengeance” of Jesus Christ.
As he runs for Governor, Mark Robinson will surely play up his Greensboro ties, portraying himself as our beloved native son. But his betrayal of our history of freedom and justice have long ago disgraced him from that title, a Native son he could never be.
Rev. CJ Brinson is a minister, organizer, activist, husband, father, and proud N.C. A&T alum dedicated to fighting for a better Greensboro for all.
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