In 1963, when King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, he was expressing a fairly conservative concept of race relations, especially by modern standards. When he says that he dreams of the day that his children will live in a nation in which “they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by content of their character,” he is making a statement that conservatives today would wholeheartedly embrace. Conservatives believe that people should be judged and achieve success based on the type of person they are in their skill and performance and not by their race. This runs counter to liberal programs like affirmative action that provide special considerations based on the color of one’s skin. In this speech, King seems to be advocating a color blind society in which race is no factor. This strikes me as a conservative concept in 2011 America.

When King gave his last speech in 1968, he advocated the boycott of companies that he viewed as racist and the support of black institutions. This is also a conservative idea. He wanted to use the power of the free market to influence the political and social climate in America. He is not asking for the government to regulate certain companies or to subsidies others. He is simply instructing like-minded individuals to use their resources to their own advantage. This is very different from liberal politics today. Today, a liberal would be advocating the government involvement in the economy to ensure that blacks get treated well by companies and to make sure that blacks get their fair share of the nation’s wealth. King is different though. He believes that blacks can achieve their goals with the power of the individual and without the assistance of the government.

King does believe that the government needs to be involved in ensuring black’s rights which are guaranteed to them by the Constitution. He believes that the government should ensure that blacks are actually allowed to vote like the 15th Amendment allows them to. But, these are Constitutional concepts and conservatives today would agree with King in these areas. King does not advocate for the government to redistribute wealth or to give special considerations to people on account of their race. Instead, he wants blacks to simply be judged on what they do and for blacks to use their own economic resources to advance their agenda. By today’s standards, this is a conservative approach to race relations.

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