During a brief interview for the National Journal, Rep. Allen West shared some rather profound thoughts on his experience growing up in the Atlanta neighborhood where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was raised, and where Ebenezer Baptist Church was situated.

While West was only a young boy of 10 the day King was assassinated, he recalled the wave of sadness that overwrought his parents, relatives and others in the community, calling it an “incredibly emotional moment.”

Allen West on Martin Luther King Jr.: We Have Not Overcome National Journal AtlantaOne of the things West noted most poignantly, perhaps, is how Dr. King would “be appalled” and have “a tear in his eye” were he alive to witness the current state of the black community.

West, who believes King’s message is as relevant today as it was when it was first delivered,  said that “if Dr. King were to come back and see what has become of the black community, he would be appalled: The exorbitantly high unemployment rate, the second- and third-generation welfare families, the rampant decimation of the inner-city black communities, the incarceration rate of young black men, and the breakdown of the black family would all bring a tear to his eye.”

West also added that because the black community has gone “backwards” from King’s dream, “we have not overcome:”

The black community is now existing on a new plantation, a 21st-century plantation [that] enslaves their will and conscience … actually worse than physical slavery. We have gone backwards from Dr. King’s dream; regardless of certain individual success stories, collectively, we are failing. We have not overcome!

Allen West on Martin Luther King Jr.: We Have Not Overcome National Journal Atlanta

When asked if King’s message informed the everyday decisions made in his own life, West responded that indeed the message that matters to him most is “character, not color:”

My elementary school, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, is located across the street from Ebenezer Baptist Church. Therefore, I grew up under the shadow of Dr. King’s legacy, message, and memory. Each day when I would walk down to the Butler Street YMCA, I would pass by Dr. King’s tomb—I would never walk past without looking over and reflecting. The most important message for me is character, not color!

So do you agree with Rep. West’s message? Would Dr. King be appalled by what West describes as a black community that has digressed, rather than progressed? And is there even a comparison to the civil rights movement of Dr. King’s day compared with the equality movements of today?

Allen West on Martin Luther King Jr.: We Have Not Overcome National Journal Atlanta

Bold emphasis in quotes added by The Blaze.