Kari Lake Has A Delusion

As a native of Atlanta, I grew up with a special reverence for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I was almost two when he died but was fortunate to meet and know many of King’s lieutenants. I was a member of Cascade United Methodist Church, which was pastored for six years by Rev. Joseph Lowery who co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with Dr. King. I lived less than two miles away from Andrew Young, who served as our mayor. And I attended Benjamin Mays High School, named after King’s college president.

This year, I am honored to serve as the interim executive director of the Black Men’s Research Institute at Morehouse College, Dr. King’s alma mater. Being on that campus, engaging the men of Morehouse, has deepened my connection and commitment to the ideals that King espoused in his short lifetime.

Every year like clockwork for the King holiday, politicians hollowly tweet quotes, often taken out of context in order to make some broader point. The all-time favorite are the 34 words from “I Have A Dream” that refer to the content of our character, most often appropriated by conservatives to defend their racism.

In fact, King is often used by conservatives as part of their performative Black outreach efforts.

Enter Kari Lake.

At a recent “Black Voices for Kari” event, where few Black voices were present and even fewer heard, Lake proclaimed, “I’m a true believer that if MLK, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., were alive today, if JFK were alive today, if our Founding Fathers were alive today, they would be America First Republicans.”

Of all the ideologies presented under the guise that King would endorse, this is the most ridiculous by far. It was one of those, tell me you have never read Dr. King without telling me. This ridiculous assertion made me realize that while King had a dream, Kari has a delusion.

It’s a delusion rooted deeply in disinformation and devoid of the real Martin Luther King, Jr. Lake clearly did not read King’s 1959 commencement address at Morehouse College, where in his first sentences he discusses a worldwide revolution for equality. In fact, King says:

“… we are challenged to rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. The individual or nation that feels that it can live in isolation has allowed itself to sleep through a revolution. The geographical togetherness of the modern world makes our very existence dependent on co-existence.”

But Lake’s delusion is most evident through a series of short sermons designed for radio that a 24-year-old King gave in 1953. The series was called “False Gods We Worship.” And one of those false Gods was nationalism.

I once heard Bernice King call her father a prophet. This 1953 sermon shows us a prophetic King. He says

“This new religion has its familiar prophets and preachers. In Germany it was preached by Hitler. In Italy it was preached by Mussilini. And in America it is being preached by the McCarthy’s and the Jenners, the advocators of white supremacy, and the America first movements.”

White supremacy. America first. This is King’s warning.

In 1953.

King then says,

“Strangely enough all of these nationalistic preachers have an amazing amount of homiletical skill, so much so that the number of their converts has risen to astronomical proportions.”

This is Kari Lake. Communication skills honed by decades as a journalist, each year building her following. Silky smooth voice, attractive, and confident.

King closes by saying nationalism is not inherently bad because we should love our native land since this is where the roots of our heritage reside. But he clearly says, “nationalism must give was to internationalism.”

Politicians like Lake display not only their delusion but disrespect of the legacy of Dr. King by so cavalierly attributing ideas to him that in his own words he opposed. She is not stupid; far from it. She understands that as one of the greatest Americans we have ever known, his name has a power that resonates broadly. But she lacks respect for a man whose life was cut short in part because he opposed nationalism.

To Lake, King is simply cover for her lack of concern for people of color.

While King ended his dream praying for freedom, I too pray that King’s words and philosophies will be one day be free from the delusions of Kari Lake.



12th president of Philander Smith College. 7th president of Dillard University. Now in an Intermission.

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Walter M. Kimbrough