In an appalling flyer, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is shown with sagging jeans, gold chains and throwing up gang signs for a “FREEDOM 2 TWERK” party geared toward teens in Flint, Mich. It’s totally disrespectful to not only the King legacy but also to the fact that Dr. King paid the ultimate sacrifice for black people to lead a dignified and respectable life. A group calling itself “Mid-Michigan Teen Parties” was planning on holding the “Freedom 2 Twerk” event on Jan. 18, 2014, at The Social Network Banquet and Event Center. But just as quickly as the flyers were distributed and the controversy swelled, the venue’s owner, Vic McEwen, canceled the event. McEwen stated he had no idea the group was going to use Dr. King’s picture, and as soon as he saw the flyer he canceled the event. A clause in the venue’s rental agreement state’s that all advertising must be preapproved by the venue and McEwen definitely did not approve of “Freedom 2 Twerk.”
The local NAACP, various media outlets, civil rights organizations, and the community have called the entire episode appalling, disgraceful and a slap in the face of King’s legacy.
One has to ask what went on in the mind of the individual who thought this would be a good idea for a party or even appropriate for the national MLK holiday. Is there a disconnect with the youth of today and knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement in Flint? According to Frances Gilcreast, president of the NAACP Flint chapter, this is not indicative of Flint’s celebration of Dr. King and other civil rights Icons. The city has had a long history of positive celebrations of the struggles of the Movement. This seems to be an isolated incident that unfortunately has garnered national attention. No one could be reached from the promotional organization, Mid-Michigan Teen Parties.