Friday, May 20, 2005

The Civil Rights Flip Flop...


To stop the Democrats’ pro-slavery agenda, anti-slavery activists founded the Republican Party, starting with a few dozen men and women in Ripon, Wisconsin on March 20, 1854. The party spread across the northern and western United States like a prairie fire of freedom. The first Republican state convention was held in Jackson, Michigan in July 1854. The Republican National Committee met for the first time in 1856, followed four months later by the first Republican National Convention.

In the election of 1860, Republicans swept to victory in the White House and won majorities in both houses of Congress. Just six years after the party’s founding, the Governor of every northern state in America was a Republican. That phenomenal progress was possible only because the Republican Party was based on the powerful idea that our nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to equality, must live up to its founding principles.

Despite fierce Democrat opposition, Republicans passed constitutional amendments banning slavery, extending the Bill of Rights to the states, guaranteeing equal protection of the laws and due process to all citizens, and extending the right to vote to persons of all races and backgrounds.

Republicans in Congress also enacted the nation’s first-ever Civil Rights Act, which extended citizenship and equal rights to people of all races, all colors, and all creeds.In 1875, the Republicans expanded these protections to give all citizens the right of equal access to all public accommodations. Struck down by the Supreme Court eight years later, this landmark legislation would be reborn as the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Republicans led the fight for women’s rights, and most suffragists were Republicans. In fact, Susan B. Anthony bragged about how, after voting (illegally) in 1872, she had voted a straight Republican ticket. The suffragists included two African-American women who were also co-founders of the NAACP: Ida Wells and Mary Terrell, great Republicans, both of them.

Republican Senator Aaron Sargent wrote the women’s suffrage amendment in 1878,though it would not be passed by Congress until Republicans again won control of both houses 40 years later. It was in 1916 that the first woman was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Jeannette Rankin. The first woman mayor was elected in 1926, the Honorable Bertha Landes of Seattle, another great Republican.
Democratic opposition to Republican efforts to protect the civil rights of all Americans lasted not only throughout Reconstruction, but well into the 20th century. In the South, those Democrats who most bitterly opposed equality for blacks founded the Ku Klux Klan, which operated as the party’s terrorist wing.

Every single African-American in Congress until 1935 was a Republican. Among the Republican pioneers were South Carolina’s Joseph Rainey, the first black member of the House of Represen-tatives, in 1870. Republican Hiram Revels of Mississippi became the first black U. S. Senator the same year. Two years later, Pinckney Pinchback of Louisiana became the nation’s first blac Governor.

California was the first state to have a Hispanic governor, Republican Romualdo Pacheco, in 1875. The first Hispanic U. S. Senator, Octaviano Larrazolo, came to Washington from New Mexico as a Republican in 1928. The first Jewish U.S. Senator outside the former Confederacy was a Republican from Oregon, Joseph Simon, and the first Jewish woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives was a California Republican, Florence Kahn.

In 2004, America marked the 50th anniversary of the modern civil rights movement, which began with the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. That landmark decision was written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the three-term Republican Governor of California appointed by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower. The author of Brown was also the 1948 Republican vice presidential nominee.

Three years after Brown, President Eisenhower won passage of his landmark Civil Rights Act of 1957. Republican Senator Everett Dirksen authored and introduced the 1960 Civil Rights Act, and saw it through to passage. Republicans supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act overwhelmingly, and by much higher percentages in both House and Senate than the Democrats. Indeed, the 1964 Civil Rights Act became law only after overcoming a Democrat filibuster.

The first Asian-American U.S. Senator was a Republican, Hiram Fong from Hawaii. The first African-American Senator after Reconstruction was a Republican, Ed Brooke from Massachusetts. The first Asian-American federal judge was a Republican, Herbert Choy. The first woman on the Supreme Court was a Republican, Sandra Day O’Connor. The first Hispanic presidential Cabinet member was a Republican, Lauro Cavazos, Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan.

The longest- serving African-American in a leadership position of the U.S. House of Representatives was a Republican, J.C. Watts. The first women elected to the majority Leadership in both the House and the Senate were Republicans, Jennifer Dunn and Kay Bailey Hutchison. The highest-ranking women ever in the majority Leadership in Congress, both currently serving, are Republicans: Kay Bailey Hutchison and Deborah Pryce.

Today, the Republican Party continues its historical commitment to civil rights at home and around the world.

In 2004, President George W. Bush signed into law the DC School Choice Incentive Act, to provide scholarship assistance for low-income students in poorly-performing public schools who want to attend private schools. DC Mayor Anthony Williams and Republican U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige pointed out that 60% of African-Americans support school choice.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, proposed by President George H. W. Bush and signed by him in 1990, was the world’s first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities. Today, 50 million disabled Americans enjoy the law’s protection against discrimination.

Following the liberation of Afghanistan under the leadership of President George W. Bush in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, women gained their civil rights for the first time in that country’s long history. More than a century earlier, Republicans led the fight for women’s suffrage in America, authoring the Susan B. Anthony amendment to our own Constitution.\Nation\archive\200505\NAT20050510b.html

Bush Apparently Excluded From Civil Rights Commemoration

By Susan Jones Morning Editor
May 10, 2005

( - "Several former presidents" -- but apparently not the current one -- will be invited to take part in a celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott.

That's according to Weber Merritt Strategies, a Washington, D.C., public affairs firm hired by the Montgomery Improvement Association to publicize the commemoration of the boycott that helped launch the civil rights movement.

The organized boycott of the city's segregated buses began on Dec. 5, 1955, in response to the Dec. 1 arrest of Rosa Parks - the seamstress who refused to give up her seat in the "whites-only" section of a Montgomery bus.

Webber Merritt Strategies said that "historical figures" from the civil rights movement, including Coretta Scott King, the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will participate in the commemoration the bus boycott.

The press release said that Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), former Ambassador Andrew Young and Dr. Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women, also are expected to join the Montgomery Improvement Association in celebrating the occasion.

"Several former U.S. presidents will also be invited to share in the celebration," the press release stated. It did not name them.

"We are proud to be part of such an historic event," said Webber Merritt Strategies partner Bernie Merritt. "The Montgomery Bus Boycott is an important chapter in our nation's history and we want to ensure that future generations remember the lessons that many people fought to teach."

Details of the event will be announced at a national press conference in September; and five days of commemorative activities (educational symposiums, roundtable discussions, public gatherings and a black-tie gala) will begin on Dec. 1.

"Attendance at the events in Washington and Montgomery is expected to include various celebrities and activists, national organization leaders, members of Congress and former U.S. presidents," the press release said - the second time it mentioned "former U.S. presidents."

Dec. 1 marks the day when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to move to the segregated section of the bus.

The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) was founded the same day the bus boycott began, and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was elected as its first president.

President Bush has reached out to black Americans, with varying degrees of success. In the run-up to the 2004 election, he asked African-Americans to consider what the Democratic Party has done for them lately; and he urged African-Americans to consider how his agenda might benefit them.

More recently, President Bush has met with a number of black pastors at the White House, in an effort to seek common ground; and the Republican National Committee has launched an active outreach to African-Americans with its "Conversations With the Community" tour featuring RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman.

The RNC also has named an African-American advisory committee to provide a "sounding board" for Republican outreach efforts.

Black conservatives are becoming more vocal as well, as they attempt to show how the "establishment black leadership" has become irrelevant.

At a "New Black Vanguard Conference" in February, black conservative leaders called for the return of "principled black leadership," in the tradition of Booker T. Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Organizations such as the NAACP, Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH, and the Congressional Black Caucus have utterly failed to provide moral leadership in the black community and have become the tools for extremist political agendas," said a press release announcing the Feb. 24 conference in Washington.


Anonymous said...

Even if those organizing this commemoration do not personally like the current president, they could acknowledge what the Republican Party has done for the black community. They may not know that the Republican Party was founded by the white abolitionist who formed the Underground Railroad to help escaped slaves to safety ... Or, they may not know that the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed only because the Everett Dirksen-led Republicans voting for the Civil Right Act outnumbered the Democrats who voted against it. What about the Republicans who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King? Just to name a few items on which these people are ignorant.

Sylvia M.

B2 said...

Republicans and Civil Rights

Diane Alden
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002

Republicans, conservatives and constitutionalists always find themselves on the defensive in regard to civil rights issues. No matter what they do, will do or have ever done, the left, Democrats and contrarians demonize them as racists.

By demonizing Republicans and conservatives the left can continue to impose the big lie, which will be accepted as gospel by minorities, whom Democrats believe "owe" them.

Never forget that Bill Clinton went to Moscow during the Vietnam War and gave aid and comfort to the enemy. Never forget his unabashed hatred of the military, which was reflected in his remarks as an anti-war protester. The people who voted for him forgave him, twice.

Unfortunately, the left believes if you don't vote for massive transfer payments from one group to another or high taxes, then you must be a racist. If you don't believe in preference for any group of Americans or the expansion of government programs, then you must be racist.

Republicans on the Record

What does the record say about Republicans and the battle for civil rights and specifically for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Public Law 88-352)?

Since Abraham Lincoln, Republicans have been there for blacks when it counted. Nevertheless, Democrats invariably take all the credit for the success of the civil rights movement and invariably fail to give any credit to Republicans.

In fact, the civil rights movement was not about politics. Nor was it about which politicians did what and which political party should take the most credit. When it came to civil rights, America's politicians merely saw the handwriting on the wall and wrote the legislation to make into federal law the historical changes that had already taken place. There was nothing else they could do.

The movement of blacks to the North, as well as their contributions as fighting men in the world wars, plus the hard work of millions of blacks and their families and churches, along with the efforts of many private groups and individuals made the civil rights movement succeed.

Civil rights for blacks found its historical moment after 1945. Bills introduced in Congress regarding employment policy brought the issue of civil rights to the attention of representatives and senators.

In 1945, 1947 and 1949, the House of Representatives voted to abolish the poll tax restricting the right to vote. Although the Senate did not join in this effort, the bills signaled a growing interest in protecting civil rights through federal action.

The executive branch of government, by presidential order, likewise became active by ending discrimination in the nation's military forces and in federal employment and work done under government contract.

Harry Truman ordered the integration of the military. However, his Republican opponent in the election of 1948, Tom Dewey, was just as strong a proponent for that effort as any Democrat.

As a matter of fact, the record shows that since 1933 Republicans had a more positive record on civil rights than the Democrats.

In the 26 major civil rights votes after 1933, a majority of Democrats opposed civil rights legislation in over 80 percent of the votes. By contrast, the Republican majority favored civil rights in over 96 percent of the votes.

[See and]

It was appalling the other day to watch former Democratic Senator Bob Kerry totally gloss over Republican efforts in the name of civil rights.

Kerry knows better. Yet being a loyal and predictable Democrat, Kerry can create the big lie with the best of them. The media are so in sync with that effort that they don't challenge him.

Kerry maintained that all the Dixiecrats became Republicans shortly after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, another big lie. Richard Russell, Mendell Rivers, Clinton's mentor William Fulbright, Robert Byrd, Fritz Hollings and Al Gore Sr. remained Democrats till their dying day.

Most of the Dixiecrats did not become Republicans. They created the Dixiecrats and then, when the civil rights movement succeeded, they returned to the Democratic fold. It was not till much later, with a new, younger breed of Southerner and the thousands of Northerners moving into the South, that Republicans began to make gains.

I know. I was there.

When I moved to Georgia in 1970, the Democratic Party had a total lock on Georgia. Newt Gingrich was one of the first "outsiders" to break that lock. He did so in a West Georgia area into which many Northerners were moving. He gained the support of rural West Georgians over issues that had absolutely nothing to do with race.

In fact, very few party switches came about right after the Civil Rights Act was passed. Some exceptions who did switch were Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms.

Democrats like Bob Kerry will lie about Republicans but won't tell you some facts about the heroes and icons of their own party. One of their major icons was not always Sir Galahad jousting in the name of civil rights. His name was John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

JFK – The Reluctant Civil Rights President

JFK evolved into a true believer in the civil rights movement when it became such an overwhelming historical and moral imperative that he had no choice. As a matter of record, when Kennedy was a senator from Massachusetts, he had an opportunity to vote on the 1957 Civil Rights Act pushed by Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson. Instead, he voted to send it to the conservative Senate Judiciary Committee, where it would have been pigeonholed.

His lukewarm support for theAct included his vote to allow juries to hear contempt cases. Dixiecrats preferred the jury system to trials presided over and decided by judges because all-white juries rarely convicted white civil rights violators.

His record in the 1950s did not mark Kennedy as a civil rights activist. Yet the 1957Act to benefit African-Americans was passed with the help of Republicans. It was a watered- down version of the later 1964 bill, which Kennedy backed.

The record on JFK shows he was a man of his times and a true politician, more given to equivocation and pragmatism than to activism. Kennedy outlined civil rights legislation only after most of the country was behind it and ready for him to act.

For the most part, in the 1960 presidential campaign he avoided the civil rights issue altogether. He did endorse some kind of federal action, but he could not afford to antagonize Southern Democrats, whose support he desperately needed to defeat Richard Nixon. Basically, he could not jeopardize the political support of the Dixiecrats and many politicians in the rest of the country who were concerned about the radical change that was in the offing.

After he was elected president, Kennedy failed to suggest any new civil rights proposals in 1961 or 1962. That failure was for pragmatic political reasons and so that he could get the rest of his agenda passed.

Introducing specific civil rights legislation in the Senate would have meant a filibuster and the obstruction of other business he felt was just as crucial as civil rights legislation. A filibuster would have happened for sure and it would have taken 67 members to support cloture to end such a filibuster. Sixty-seven votes Kennedy believed he did not have.

As it was, Kennedy had other fish to fry, including the growing threat of Russian imperialism, the building of the Berlin Wall, the Bay of Pigs as Cuba went down the communist rat hole, his increase in the numbers of troops and advisers he was sending to Vietnam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In addition, the steel business was in crisis and he needed a major tax rate cut to stimulate a sluggish economy. Kennedy understood his options and he chose to be realistic.

When Kennedy did act in June 1963 to propose a civil rights bill, it was because the climate of opinion and the political situation forced him to act.

The climate of opinion had changed dramatically between World War II and 1964. Various efforts by groups of Protestant and Catholic clergy, along with the Urban League, NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality, black activists, individuals both white and black and, of course, Martin Luther King Jr., as well as other subsets of his movement, are what forced civil rights to be crafted into federal law.

The National Opinion Research Center discovered that by 1963 the number of Americans who approved neighborhood integration had risen 30 percent in 20 years, to 72 percent. Americans supporting school integration had risen even more impressively, to 75 percent.

The efforts of politicians were needed to write all the changes and efforts into law. Politicians did not lead charge on civil rights – again, they just took credit, especially the Democrats.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act

When all the historical forces had come together, Kennedy decided to act. John Kennedy began the process of gaining support for the legislation in a nationally televised address on June 11, 1963.

Gathering business and religious leaders and telling the more violent activists in the black leadership to tone down the confrontational aspects of the movement, Kennedy outlined the Civil Rights Act. In it, the Justice Department was given the responsibility of addressing the worst problems of racial discrimination.

Because of the problem with a possible Senate filibuster, which would be imposed by Southern Democrats, the diverse aspects of theAct were first dealt with in the House of Representatives. The roadblock would be that Southern senators chaired both the Judiciary and the Commerce committees.

Kennedy and LBJ understood that a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and Northern Democrats was the key to the bill's final success.

Remember that the Republicans were the minority party at the time. Nonetheless, H.R.7152 passed the House on Feb. 10, 1964. Of the 420 members who voted, 290 supported the civil rights bill and 130 opposed it.

Republicans favored the bill 138 to 34; Democrats supported it 152-96. Republicans supported it in higher proportions than Democrats. Even though those Democrats were Southern segregationists, without Republicans the bill would have failed. Republicans were the other much-needed leg of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The Man From Illinois

In the Senate, Hubert Humphrey was the point man for the Civil Rights Act. That is not unusual considering the Democrats held both houses of Congress and the presidency.

Sen. Thomas Kuchel of California led the Republican pro-civil rights forces. But it became clear who among the Republicans was going to get the job done; that man was conservative Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen.

He was the master key to victory for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without him and the Republican vote, theAct would have been dead in the water for years to come. LBJ and Humphrey knew that without Dirksen the Civil Rights Act was going nowhere.

Dirksen became a tireless supporter, suffering bouts of ill health because of his efforts in behalf of crafting and passing the Civil Rights Act. Nonetheless, Sen. Dirksen suffered the same fate as many Republicans and conservatives do today.

Even though Dirksen had an exemplary voting record in support of bills furthering the cause of African-Americans, activist groups in Illinois did not support Dirksen for re-election to the Senate in 1962.

Believing that Dirksen could be forced into voting for the Civil Rights Act, they demonstrated and picketed and there were threats by CORE to continue demonstrations and violence against Dirksen's offices in Illinois. James Farmer of CORE stated that "people will march en masse to the post offices there to file handwritten letters" in protest.

Dirksen blew it off in a statement typical of him: "When the day comes that picketing, distress, duress, and coercion can push me from the rock of conviction, that is the day that I shall gather up my togs and walk out of here and say that my usefulness in the Senate has come to an end."

Dirksen began the tactical arrangements for passage of the bill. He organized Republican support by choosing floor captains for each of the bill's seven sections.

The Republican "swing" votes were from rural states without racial problems and so were uncommitted. The floor captains and Dirksen himself created an imperative for these rural Republicans to vote in favor of cloture on filibuster and then for the Act itself.

As they worked through objections to the bill, Dirksen explained his goal as "first, to get a bill; second, to get an acceptable bill; third, to get a workable bill; and, finally, to get an equitable bill."

In any event, there were still 52 days of filibuster and five negotiation sessions. Senators Dirksen and Humphrey, and Attorney General Robert Kennedy agreed to propose a "clean bill" as a substitute for H. R. 7152. Senators Dirksen, Mansfield, Humphrey and Kuchel would cosponsor the substitute.

This agreement did not mean the end of the filibuster, but it did provide Dirksen with a compromise measure, which was crucial to obtain the support of the "swing" Republicans.

On June 17, the Senate voted by a 76 to 18 margin to adopt the bipartisan substitute worked out by Dirksen in his office in May and to give the bill its third reading. Two days later, the Senate passed the bill by a 73 to 27 roll call vote. Six Republicans and 21 Democrats held firm and voted against passage.

In all, the 1964 civil rights debate had lasted a total of 83 days, slightly over 730 hours, and had taken up almost 3,000 pages in the Congressional Record.

On May 19, Dirksen called a press conference told the gathering about the moral need for a civil rights bill. On June 10, 1964, with all 100 senators present, Dirksen rose from his seat to address the Senate. By this time he was very ill from the killing work he had put in on getting the bill passed. In a voice reflecting his fatigue, he still spoke from the heart:

"There are many reasons why cloture should be invoked and a good civil rights measure enacted. It is said that on the night he died, Victor Hugo wrote in his diary substantially this sentiment, 'Stronger than all the armies is an idea whose time has come.' The time has come for equality of opportunity in sharing of government, in education, and in employment. It must not be stayed or denied."

After the civil rights bill was passed, Dirksen was asked why he had done it. What could possibly be in it for him given the fact that the African-Americans in his own state had not voted for him? Why should he champion a bill that would be in their interest? Why should he offer himself as a crusader in this cause?

Dirksen's reply speaks well for the man, for Republicans and for conservatives like him: "I am involved in mankind, and whatever the skin, we are all included in mankind."

The bill was signed into law by President Johnson on July 2, 1964.

Taking Credit

There is a line from a movie which I have remembered since I first heard it. In the movie, a young doctor failed to get credit or recognition for a heroic act. A friend asked him if that bothered him. The young man's reply was "There will never be any credit for me, there will just be the next thing to do."

Credit may be given to Sen. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota for being the loudest voice in support for legislation in the late '50s and early '60s. Credit may be given to LBJ for pushing legislation.

owever, without the leadership and help of Republicans, who had voted for bills to help minorities for decades before 1964, any Democratic Party legislative effort would have been watered down or failed because of obstinate Democrats – i.e., the Dixiecrats.

Neither political party, however, has the right to claim it was responsible for making civil rights for African-Americans happen. Changing times and the efforts of blacks themselves, plus the thousands of electronic pictures blazing across the screens on national television, finally brought it home to white America that injustices were being done to their brethren who happened to be black.

The fact that Democrats are quick to take credit for the Civil Rights Act and for the civil rights movement itself is both phony and a self-absorbed vanity.

The Democrats and the press can continue to make a big deal of Lott's statement spoken to honor Strom Thurmond on his 100th birthday. Like George Wallace and others, Thurmond and Lott grew as men. They grew out of their times and their situation. They apologized for their former beliefs and they acted on that change of heart and have done so time and time again.

Democrats do themselves no good by taking credit for the civil rights movement or for legislation that came out of it. If they do that, they also must take the blame for the failures of the policies of dependence which they created and which choked the life out of the African-American culture and family life.

If African-Americans ever do vote for Republicans or conservatives, I hope they do so because they finally realize that though conservatives don't have all the answers, they do have enough faith in people to allow them the freedom to find the answers for themselves.