Ahead of the MLK holiday, Guadalupe Radio Network—EWTN's largest radio affiliate—broadcasted a radio show episode entitled, "Martin Luther King Jr. Day Incompatible with the Mass."
The host, far-right Black Catholic commentator David L. Gray, spent over 20 minutes at the beginning of his hour-long show disparaging the memory of the slain civil rights leader.
Accusing King of being a plagiarizer, sexual deviant, eugenicist, and Marxist, Gray condemned King for his stance that birth control is both rational and morally justifiable. And despite acknowledging that King worked alongside Catholics on Civil Rights issues and met with Pope Paul VI, Gray also maligned King as anti-Catholic and voluntarily choosing to reject the Catholic Church and her teachings.
Gray concluded by stating that instead of honoring King, Catholics should be praying for his soul which may be "in purgatory, if not hell."
He added that homilies should not talk about following King's example because "we do not know his final destination"—wryly concluding: "God bless him for what he did; the marches, the sit-ins, whatever…"
GRN's tweet promoting the episode did not go unnoticed on Twitter, with Chris Smith, SJ, the only African-American Jesuit seminarian in the world, responding:
You would think y'all'd've learned a lesson from all the hooplah that you brought upon yourselves in unjustly dismissing Gloria Purvis that y'all might reflect about racism in your ranks. You would think wrong. #JustBecauseYallPayABlackPersonToSayItDoesntMakeItNotRacist.— SmithSJ (@Chris_SmithsJ) January 13, 2022
I don't think you know what racism is— Guadalupe Radio (@grnonline) January 14, 2022
Gray's radio show (and the fallout above) demonstrate the continued racism of GRN, which infamously dropped Gloria Purvis's show "Morning Glory" from the airwaves in 2020 after she spoke out on anti-Black racism in several episodes.
GRN's patronizing response to Smith is indicative of its relationship with Black Catholics more generally. By airing Gray, who has consistently criticized and antagonized members of the Black Catholic community—and disrespected the memory of Servant of God Thea Bowman—GRN continues to promote anti-Black content and alienate Catholics who support racial justice.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life fighting for freedom and equality for Black Americans. The work he spearheaded led to the end of Jim Crow segregation and the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
Gray's complete disregard for King's work is an insult to the Black community. For Guadalupe Radio Network to air his show, disrespecting the legacy of one of the country's most renowned, influential, and beloved Black leaders days before the holiday commemorating his work, is beyond reprehensible.
Alessandra Harris is author of two novels and is a wife, mother of four, and co-founder of BCM. She earned degrees in Comparative Religious studies and Middle East Studies and currently studies in the Diocese of San Jose's Institute for Leadership in Ministry. She has also contributed to publications such as America Magazine, Grotto Network, and US Catholic. Her third novel is due in 2022.