Romney refuses to acknowledge that his church was wrong to exclude blacks; instead, Romney offers his father’s march with MLK as proof of his progressive values, yet there is no evidence that Romney’s father ever marched with MLK
“I’ve been on the road for a couple of days, but I want to circle back to Mitt Romney’s appearance on Meet the Press on Sunday to make two points,” writes Tom Bevan in a realclearpolitics article titled Romney’s MTP Turn
First, I think Romney made a significant mistake by refusing to acknowledge that his church was wrong to discriminate against blacks up until 1978. This should have been a no-brainer, and his refusal to state the obvious was made even more pronounced by citing his father’s record of marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, his mother’s civil rights record, etc. – all of which was a tacit admission that the church’s policy of discrimination was wrong. So why not just say so? … etc.
Did Romney’s father march with Dr. Martin Luther King?—well, opinions differ.
“In the most-watched speech of his political career, speaking on ‘Faith in America’ at College Station, Texas, earlier this month, Mitt Romney evoked the strongest of all symbolic claims to civil-rights credentials: ‘I saw my father march with Martin Luther King,'” writes the estimable David Bernstein in a Phoenix exclusive titled Was it all a dream? EXCLUSIVE: Mitt Romney claims that his father marched with MLK, but the record says otherwise
He has repeated the claim several times recently, most prominently to Tim Russert on Meet the Press . But, while the late George W. Romney, a four-term governor of Michigan, can lay claim to a strong record on civil rights, the Phoenix can find no evidence that the senior Romney actually marched with King, nor anything in the public record suggesting that he ever claimed to do so.
Nor did Mitt Romney ever previously claim that this took place, until long after his father passed away in 1995 — not even when defending accusations of the Mormon church’s discriminatory past during his 1994 Senate campaign.
Asked about the specifics of George Romney’s march with MLK, Mitt Romney’s campaign told the Phoenix that it took place in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. That jibes with the description proffered by David S. Broder in a Washington Post column written days after Mitt’s College Station speech.
Broder, in that column, references a 1967 book he co-authored on the Republican Party, which included a chapter on George Romney. It includes a one-line statement that the senior Romney “has marched with Martin Luther King through the exclusive Grosse Pointe suburb of Detroit.”
But that account is incorrect. King never marched in Grosse Pointe, according to the Grosse Pointe Historical Society, and had not appeared in the town at all at the time the Broder book was published. “I’m quite certain of that,” says Suzy Berschback, curator of the Grosse Pointe Historical Society. (Border was not immediately available for comment.) …
… King had already left the state, and Romney did not participate in the Grosse Pointe walk, according to records from the time.
George Romney would later lead a 10,000-person march through Detroit, but not with King.
Although Broder’s book contained the brief mention, there is nothing in the public record to suggest that George Romney himself ever claimed to have marched with King.
Had George Romney ever marched with Martin Luther King Jr., it almost certainly would have been documented. From the mid-’50s through 1962, Romney was one of the country’s most prominent business leaders — for him to travel South for a civil-rights march would have been remarkable. From January 1963 on, as governor of Michigan and a presumed Presidential candidate, Romney was one of the most visible political figures in the country … etc.