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Thunder from the RightEzra Taft Benson in Mormonism and Politics$
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Matthew L. Harris

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042256

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042256.001.0001

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Martin Luther King, Civil Rights, and Perceptions of a “Communist Conspiracy”

Martin Luther King, Civil Rights, and Perceptions of a “Communist Conspiracy”

(p.124) 5 Martin Luther King, Civil Rights, and Perceptions of a “Communist Conspiracy”
Thunder from the Right
Matthew L. Harris
University of Illinois Press

Ezra Taft Benson brazenly asserted that Martin Luther King was a communist agent. Thus, Benson rejected the civil rights movement, claiming that it was an invitation to promote communist aims and organizations. In specific, Benson feared that the unrest unleashed by the “civil rights agitators,” as he called them, would lead to a revolution that would ultimately produce a worldwide depression and a catastrophic failure of money markets in the United States. For Benson, then, the civil rights movement was not about black rights but about communists using them as a pawn to undermine American institutions. This essay traces Benson’s views on civil rights, specifically Birch Society founder Robert Welch and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s influence on Benson’s racialist thinking.

Keywords:   Robert Welch, John Birch Society, J. Edgar Hoover, Martin Luther King, civil rights movement, Black Power, Civil Rights Act (1964), Voting Rights Act (1965), communist conspiracy, end times, Brigham Young University

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