DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor and civil rights pioneer. And two Dallas billboards claim he was a Republican too.
One of the billboards looks down on the very Dallas street that carries King's name. It reads, "Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. VOTE REPUBLICAN!"
"It's a bit disrespectful for what Martin Luther King stood for, and who he was, to use his name in a political fashion, is a bit disrespectful," says Dallas resident Aaron Carswell.
Claver Kamau-Imani is the man behind the billboards. He is the founder of Raging Elephants.org, a conservation organization, urging African-Americans to join the Republican party.
Kamau-Imani has waged the billboard campaign in mostly black neighborhoods in Dallas, Houston and Austin.
"The use of Dr. King, because of him being an icon in the community, we feel would be most effective. That's why we used it," says Kamau-Imani. "We have the documentation to back the claims we're making on the billboard."
Dallas social activist Peter Johnson says the billboards are a disgrace. Johnson has ties to the civil rights era, and worked along King in the 60's. He says using King to promote a political party is simply wrong.
"Using his image is one thing, exploiting his legacy is another. To distort his legacy, it's sacred to some of us. We know the suffering and sacrifice that was made."
Kamau-Imani says the billboards are getting people talking and that's exactly what he intended.
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