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Forty years after his death, the popularity of Martin Luther King remains extraordinary. He is perhaps the single most praised person in American history, and millions adore him as a hero and almost a saint. The federal government has made space available on the Mall in Washington for a national monument for King, not far from Lincoln’s. Only four men in American history have national monuments: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt; and now King will make five.
King is the only American who enjoys the nation’s highest honor of having a national holiday on his birthday. There are other days of remembrance such as Presidents’ Day, but no one else but Jesus Christ is recognized with a similar holiday. Does King deserve such honors? Much that has been known to scholars for years—but largely unknown to most Americans—suggests otherwise.
The FBI surveillance files could throw considerable light on his true character, but they will not be made public until 2027. On January 31, 1977, as a result of lawsuits by King’s allies against the FBI, a US district judge ordered the files sealed for 50 years.
Special Note: In May, 2000 - over 32 years AFTER his death and in an act which seems totally unprecedented in Masonic history - a Past Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia made King a "Mason at Sight". Such action runs counter to all of the 'landmarks' and accepted usages of Freemasonry since making a member of the fraternity posthumously violates the premise of the first question normally proposed to a candidate, to wit: "Do you make this request of your own free will and accord?". The practice of making a Mason 'at sight' stems from the beginnings of Freemasonry when a Grand Master could waive all normal requirements to pass through the degrees and declare, summarily, a man to be a Mason. (It should be noted as well, however, that the practice is so controversial in Freemasonry some Grand Lodges have specifically forbidden their Grand Masters to do it while in others it has not been done for a century or longer.) Other men who have been made Masons in this manner (and we'd estimate the number at less than a hundred or so despite the tens of millions of good men who have joined over the past three centuries) were so declared only AFTER discussion with and agreement by them. The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Georgia has not, as of May, 2010, been accepted as 'regular' by any 'mainstream' Masonic Grand Lodge and this bizarre act may well cause problems for such acceptance in the future. While we do not wish to editorialize, the actions by MW Bro. Benjamin Barksdale (whom we have had the pleasure of meeting personally and know to be a good man with a sincere and very deep love for Freemasons and Freemasonry) are abnormal in the extreme. His actions could not and cannot make a dead man a Mason.... A New York Prince Hall Mason wrote in early 2009 on a private Masonic discussion group that the MWPHGL of Georgia has repudiated this action. We requested a citation to support this but have failed to her anything further.