King's bust at Chapman
King's bust at Chapman

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr. and When the Orange County Board of Education Wanted to Ban His Bio

This year marks the 50th anniversary of civil-rights martyr Martin Luther King Jr. visiting Orange County, when he spoke at Chapman's Memorial Hall back in the days when it was a college and a progressive-liberal-arts institution instead of the finishing school it has become for the county's GOP spawn. I'll wait until the actual anniversary of King's speech (in December) to unearth his remarks and the controversy surrounding them; for this post, we'll remember when the Orange County Board of Education tried to keep his biography away from county schools.

In 1971, not even three years after King's assassination, the board deleted from its purchase list a bio written about him at the request of trustee Dale E. Rallison. The trustee's reasoning? King was a commie.

Rallison was a member of the John Birch Society, and he told the

Los Angeles Times

that King was "a conscious supporter of Communism" without offering any proof. His actions spurred vigorous community opposition to the proposed censorship, and a sheepish board voted two weeks after Rallison's move to place King's bio in county libraries by a 3-1 vote, with Rallison voting against the proposal and another trustee abstaining.

But the Bircher didn't stop. At the meeting, according to a Times account, he "passed out pamphlets titled, 'Please Don't Help Glorify Martin Luther King.'" I'm sure Rallison insisted he wasn't racist, too, because the author of the pamphlet was--and I quote from the propaganda--"An Anti-Communist Negro."

Only in Orange County . . .


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