When a black conservative group ran a radio ad proclaiming that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican, reaction was swift. "We've gotten some e-mails and telephone calls filled with vitriol," said Frances Rice, chairman of the National Black Republican Association. "They've called me Aunt Jemima, a sellout, a traitor to my race."
In the battle for the black electorate, liberals, who make up the overwhelming majority of black voters, have long disagreed with conservatives over ideology, public policy and economic strategies to better the lives of African Americans. But when conservatives placed the civil rights movement in a Republican context, black liberals said, they crossed a line.