Dodge Ram Commercial Receives Backlash After Using MLK Speech

Akira Kyles

For many African-Americans, Martin Luther King Jr. is seen as a sacred figure, especially during Black History Month, but recently a truck commercial used that figure, sending many into an uproar.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Dodge Ram used part of a speech by King to advertise their trucks and people quickly took to the internet to give the commercial backlash.

Morgan State University, Student Government Association Vice President, Joy Barnes thought the commercial was disrespectful.

“I think it was disrespectful to everything he stood for, especially since he was anti-capitalist and these large corporations know that,” said Barnes.

Chinedu Nwokeafor, minority business liaison, thinks that their anger was misplaced.

“You can’t be mad at Dodge. Dodge is not who you’re mad at because again, it’s one thing if Dodge went and hired a black person to make a speech but Dodge asked permission, according to my readings,” said Nwokeafor. “Dodge asked permission, so no matter how you want to get mad at Dodge, it’s not their fault. It’s business.”

Morgan State professor of communication studies, Jared Ball, also didn’t like the use of the speech in the Dodge Ram commercial because it didn’t support the King’s beliefs.

“It’s a false representation, it’s a bastardization, it’s inappropriate, in particular, because Dr. King was an anti-capitalist, pro worker, pro union, pro labor organizer,” said Ball.

According to Ball, this turned King in to an enemy of the state.

“When you see a commercial that is using his image to sell products, to sell capitalism, to sell a false image of a democracy that he was extremely critical of,” said Ball, “and ultimately to sell a version of this country that he said, at the end of his life, was ‘the purveyor of violence today.”

Ball also explained how King is not to be remembered because he is remembered incorrectly.

“He’s not to be remembered and it’s another version of what we’ve heard in recent years about banks in Wall Street that his image and his name is too big to omit,” said Ball. “So, he can’t just be erased but he can’t be remembered as he actually was because … he was not the hero that the country now claims he was at the end of his life.”

Towards the end of his life, King began addressing the problems of white supremacy and capitalism. With this in mind, it has angered many people to take to social media and complain. It also makes many wonder why Dodge thought this speech by this radical was a good idea to advertise a truck.