MLK Nightclub Ad Controversy

CLEVELAND – An ad using the likeness of one of the most respected civil rights leaders of all time is causing controversy.  

It features a young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and promotes a DJ event at a downtown Cleveland nightclub over the MLK weekend.   

It appears to be Dr. King’s face superimposed on a rapper’s body. 

Clevelander Terrie Pitts does not believe that image depicts the revered civil rights leader.  “When I look at the celebration of his holiday and what he stood for is peace, community service, you know doing things in the community, not a dance,” she said.

Lacresha Moore did not find the ad offensive.  “All they did is put a poster up with his face on it saying come kick it for his weekend. So, there’s really nothing to be wrong with it,” Moore said.

But, Cleveland State marketing student Deshena McLeandon disagreed.  “For them to take like a historic figure such as MLK and put it on. This is actually a rapper called 2 chainz. To put it on his body, that’s so disrespectful,” McLeandon said.

Kelton Crenshaw, owner of Eighty 81 events and promoter of the MLK Weekend Shuffle, admitted he should have been more critical of the ad before it was distributed through social media.  And, there was some backlash from the ad.  “We don’t want to put such an iconic figure, not just civil rights but history in genera, in a negative or disparaging light. So, we immediately changed it,” Crenshaw said. “

Not only was the image of Dr. King removed, no one is depicted in the new ad. 

Crenshaw said he hopes it offends no one.