By Frances Rice
Confident that liberal historians have successfully re-written civil rights history, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brazenly compared Republican health care reform opponents to supporters of slavery, ignoring the fact that the Democratic Party fought to expand slavery while the Republican Party fought to end it. Not satisfied with just playing the race card on the senate floor, the Nevada Democrat also accused Republicans of opposing women’s suffrage, never mind that the Republican Party also championed women’s rights.
Democrats sang a different tune when inner-city minister Rev. Wayne Perryman sued the Democratic Party for that party’s 150-year history of racism, a case that went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. Democrats came into court and, under oath, admitted their racist past that Sen. Reid is now trying to foist on the shoulders of Republicans. In court, Democrats refused to apologize for their racism and, using an army of lawyers, relied on the legal technicality of “standing” to avoid a court order against them, knowing they can take the black vote for granted.
So, what did the Democrats admit under oath? Below are highlights of civil rights history. For additional details, see the NBRA Civil Rights Newsletter posted on the website of the National Black Republican Association.
As author Michael Scheuer stated, the Democratic Party is the party of the four S’s: slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism. Democrats have been running black communities for the past 40 years, and the failed socialist policies of the Democrats have turned those communities into economic and social wastelands. Incredibly, Democrats blame Republicans for the deplorable conditions created by Democrats. Since the so-called War on Poverty of the 1960’s, over nine trillion dollars have been spent on poverty-related programs, with no movement in the poverty needle.
Etched in history and exposed in Perryman’s book, “Unfounded Loyalty”, is the sordid details of Democratic Party racism – past and present. The Democratic Party, through its racist agenda and “States’ Rights” claim to own slaves, sought to protect and preserve the institution of slavery from 1792 to 1865, thus keeping enslaved millions of blacks. Democrats formed the Confederacy, seceded from the Union and fought a Civil War (1861 to 1865), a war where over 600,000 citizens were killed, including many thousands of blacks. In his book, Perryman also provides the details about how the Republican Party was started in 1854 as the anti-slavery party, fought to free blacks from slavery and championed civil rights for blacks and women.
During the Civil War, Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 which ordered the freeing of slaves in states that were rebelling against Union forces. Republicans passed the Thirteenth Amendment on January 31, 1865 that was ratified on December 6, 1865 to abolish all slavery in the United States.
Democrats passed discriminatory Black Codes in 1865 to suppress, restrict, and deny blacks the same privileges as whites. The Codes forced blacks to serve as apprentices to their former slave masters. Democrats also prevented blacks from getting the promised “40 acres and a mule”.
In 1866, the Ku Klux Klan was started by Democrats to lynch and terrorize Republicans, black and white, and the Ku Klux Klan became the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party. Over 3,000 Republicans were killed by the Klan, of whom 1,000 were white and 2,000 were black. Details about the Democratic Party and the Ku Klux Klan can be found in the book “A Short History of Reconstruction” by Dr. Eric Foner.
To counter the discriminatory and terrorizing actions by Democrats, Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Reconstruction Act of 1867 that were designed to establish a new government system in the Democrat-controlled South, one that was fair to blacks. Further, the Fourteenth Amendment championed by Republicans was ratified in 1868 that granted blacks citizenship. The Fifteenth Amendment also championed by Republicans was ratified in 1870 that granted blacks the right to vote.
Determined to stop blacks from having equal rights, Democrats passed discriminatory Jim Crow Laws starting in 1875 to restrict the rights of blacks to use public facilities. In response, Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which prohibited racial discrimination in public facilities.
Shamefully, Democrats fought against anti-lynching laws, and when the Democrats regained control of Congress in 1892, they passed the Repeal Act of 1894 that overturned civil right laws enacted by Republicans.
Further, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Democrats and against blacks in the case of “Plessy v. Ferguson” in 1896 where the Supreme Court established the “separate but equal” doctrine. That opinion stated that it was not a violation of the U.S. Constitution to have separate facilities for blacks. It took Republicans nearly six decades to end these restrictions and finally get the civil rights laws of the 1950’s and 1960’s passed over the objection of the Democrats.
During the civil rights era of the 1960’s, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought to stop Democrats from denying civil rights to blacks. It should come as no surprise that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican as has been affirmed by one of his nieces.
Dr. King fought against Democrat Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor in Birmingham who let loose vicious dogs and turned skin-burning fire hoses on black civil rights demonstrators.
Democrat Georgia Governor Lester Maddox famously brandished ax handles to prevent blacks from patronizing his restaurant. Democrat Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked the entrance of two black students at the University of Alabama in 1963 and thundered, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”. All of these racist Democrats remained Democrats until the day they died. In fact, racist Democrats declared that they would rather vote for a “yellow dog” than a Republican because the Republican Party was known as the party for blacks.
The so-called “Dixiecrats” remained Democrats and did not migrate to the Republican Party. The Dixiecrats were a group of Southern Democrats who, in the 1948 national election, formed a third party, the State’s Rights Democratic Party with the slogan: “Segregation Forever!” Even so, they continued to be Democrats for all local and state elections, as well as for all future national elections.
The Democratic Party supported the Topeka, Kansas school board in opposition to school integration in the 1954 “Brown v. Topeka Board of Education” Supreme Court decision by Chief Justice Earl Warren who was appointed by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower. This landmark decision ended school segregation and declared that the “separate but equal” doctrine created by the 1896 “Plessy v. Ferguson” decision violated the 14th Amendment.
After the Brown decision, Democrat Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus tried to prevent desegregation of a Little Rock public school. President Eisenhower sent troops to Arkansas to desegregate the schools and pushed through the 1957 Civil Rights Act. In 1958, Eisenhower established a permanent US Civil Rights Commission that had been rejected by prior Democrat presidents, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Little known is the fact that Republican Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois, not Democrat President Lyndon Johnson, pushed through the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act. In fact, Dirksen was instrumental in the passage of civil rights legislation in 1957, 1960, 1964, 1965 and 1968. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. hailed Senator Dirksen’s “able and courageous Leadership”, and “The Chicago Defender”, the largest black-owned daily at that time, praised Senator Dirksen “for the grand manner of his generalship behind the passage of the best civil rights measures that have ever been enacted into law since Reconstruction”.
The chief opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were Democrat Senators Sam Ervin, Albert Gore, Sr. and Robert Byrd (a former official in the Ku Klux Klan). Democrat Senator Byrd who conducted a filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act is still in Congress. None of those racist Democrats became Republicans.
Democrats ignore the pivotal role played by Senator Dirksen in obtaining passage of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, while heralding President Johnson as a civil rights advocate for signing the bill. Notably, in his 4,500-word State of the Union Address delivered on January 4, 1965, Johnson mentioned scores of topics for federal action, but only thirty five words were devoted to civil rights. He did not mention one word about voting rights. Information about Johnson’s anemic civil rights policy positions can be found in the “Public Papers of the President, Lyndon B. Johnson,” 1965, vol. 1, p.1-9.
In their campaign to unfairly paint the Republican Party today as racist, Democrats point to President Johnson’s prediction that there would be an exodus from the Democratic Party because of Johnson’s signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Omitted from the Democrats’ rewritten history is what Johnson actually meant by his prediction.
Johnson’s statement was not made out of a concern that racist Democrats would suddenly join the Republican Party that was fighting for the civil rights of blacks. Instead, Johnson feared that the racist Democrats would again form a third party, such as the short-lived States Rights Democratic Party. In fact, Alabama’s Democrat Governor George C. Wallace in 1968 started the American Independent Party that attracted other racist candidates, including Democrat Atlanta Mayor (later Governor of Georgia) Lester Maddox.
Democrat President John F. Kennedy is also lauded as a civil rights advocate. In reality, Kennedy voted against the 1957 Civil rights Act while he was a senator. After he became president, John F. Kennedy opposed the 1963 March on Washington by Dr. King that was organized by A. Phillip Randolph who was a black Republican. Dr. King criticized Kennedy for ignoring civil rights issues. This criticism was one of the reasons that Kennedy, through his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy, had Dr. King wiretapped and investigated by the FBI on suspicion of being a Communist in order to undermine Dr. King.
When the King family sought help with getting Dr. King out of a Birmingham jail, Richard Nixon did not respond because he knew that no individual Republican could have any control over the actions of the racist Democrats in the South. Kennedy’s civil rights advisor, Harris Wofford who was a personal friend of Dr. King, made a telephone call on behalf of President Kennedy without Kennedy’s knowledge that resulted in Dr. King’s release. Kennedy was angry about the call because he feared that he would lose the Southern vote. History shows, though, that the call By Wofford eventually worked in Kennedy’s favor and is the primary reason so many blacks wrongly revere Kennedy today.
In the arsenal of the Democrats is a condemnation of Republican President Richard Nixon for his so-called “Southern Strategy.” These same Democrats expressed no concern when the racially segregated South voted solidly for Democrats for over 100 years, yet unfairly deride Republicans because of the thirty-year odyssey of the South switching to the Republican Party that began in the 1970’s. Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” was an effort on his part to get fair-minded people in the South to stop voting for Democrats who did not share their values and were discriminating against blacks. Georgia did not switch until 2004, and Louisiana was controlled by Democrats until the election of Republican Governor Bobby Jindal in 2007.
As the co-architect of Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”, Pat Buchanan provided a first-hand account of the origin and intent of that strategy in a 2002 article. In that article, Buchanan wrote that when Nixon kicked off his historic comeback in 1966 with a column about the South (written by Buchanan), Nixon declared that the Republican Party would be built on a foundation of states rights, human rights, small government and a strong national defense, and leave it to the “party of Maddox, Mahoney and Wallace to squeeze the last ounce of political juice out of the rotting fruit of racial injustice”.
The fact that Republicans today are not racist is explained clearly in the article”The Myth of the Racist Republicans” by Gerard Alexander that is posted on the Claremont Institute’s website.
Democrats generate false charges of racism against the Republican Party in order to keep blacks from voting for Republicans by making unfair accusations against Republican leaders such as Trent Lott who Democrats denounced for his remarks about Senator Strom Thurmond. However, there was silence when Democrat Senator Christopher Dodd praised Senator Byrd, a former official in the Ku Klux Klan, as someone who would have been “a great senator for any moment.” Senator Thurmond was never in the Ku Klux Klan. After Thurmond had a change of heart and joined the party of freedom and equality for blacks – the Republican Party – Thurmond defended blacks against lynching and the discriminatory poll taxes imposed on blacks by Democrats.
While claiming to care about diversity, Democrats readily demean black Republicans who do not toe the Democratic Party’s liberal agenda line, denigrating them as “sellouts”, “Uncle Toms”, “House Negroes”, “House N-word”, and worse.
The time is now for Democrats, starting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to stop using race baiting as a political weapon and apologize to blacks for their history of racism so that our nation can finally heal our racial wounds.
The NBRA delivered a petition in 2007 to Sen. Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding an apology for the Democratic Party’s racist history. We also sent an open letter to President Barack Obama requesting that he, as the leader of the Democratic Party, issue a formal proclamation of apology for the documented atrocities and accumulated wrongs inflicted upon black Americans by the Democratic Party for over 150 years.
It’s the right thing to do, but we won’t hold our breath.
Frances Rice is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, a lawyer and chairman of the National Black Republican Association. She can be contacted at: www.NBRA.info