Rep. Burgess Owens said Monday that the kind of policies today’s Democratic Party pushes for blacks and other Americans of color is not at all what civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had in mind.
Namely, he said King preached about unity and criticized the Biden administration for invoking the late civil rights leader to pass “demeaning” voting laws.
He especially took issue with Democrat attempts to get rid of voter ID laws passed by states by claiming they are “racist,” which he says is demanding to black people.
“Black Americans, just like Italian Americans or Polish Americans, all we want is fairness,” Owens, a Utah Republican, told Fox News Digital.
“We want to know that our vote counts. To say that we’re the only race of the whole country… that if we have to get an ID that we cannot pull it off – I cannot articulate how demeaning that thought process is,” he continued.
“Sadly we have too many black people that go along with it,” Owens continued. “They’d rather have power for themselves than to empower our race.”
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Owens, 70, grew up near Tallahassee, where his dad was a professor of agriculture at Florida A&M, a historically Black university. King represented the type of pride of his father’s generation where they “commanded respect,” Owens said.
Growing up in the days of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan, Owens said he had no interaction with White Americans until he was 16 years old. Despite segregation, Owens talks fondly of how his Black neighborhood in the 1960s distinguished itself by building a proud middle class and business community because of an entrepreneurial spirit.
Owens said he marched in protest of segregation when he was just 12 years old in Florida. He marvels at how the King-inspired protesters of that era dressed nicely, were disciplined in their message and were uplifting.
Today’s Black Lives Matter activists are far different, he said.
“They’re angry. They don’t build, they destroy. They don’t unify, they divide. It’s a totally different strategy. And it’s unfortunate,” Owens said.
King “was not about dividing us. He was about unifying us. And it was because, at the end of the day, his source was God.”
President Biden invoked King’s name during a heated speech in Atlanta Tuesday where he pressed lawmakers to pass voting rights legislation and implied those who did not support the bills were racists.
“Do you want to be on the side of Dr. King or George Wallace?” Biden said Tuesday. “Do you want to be on the side of John Lewis or Bull Connor? Do you want to be on the side of Abraham Lincoln or Jefferson Davis?”
Owens pushed back, however, and said that King “was articulate. He was brave. He was bold. He was respectful. He could persuade people to listen to him. That was the Black community and that was our dreams and hopes at that time.
“That is not the dreams and hopes of the Biden Administration. Look at everything they do and the policy they put together. It’s demeaning. It’s divisive,” he added.
“At the end of the day, you have more Black people hating people today than they did when Martin Luther King was around,” Owens, a former standout NFL player, said. “They are being trained to hate other people based on their race. Martin Luther King was saying, let’s come together regardless of race.”