REPUBLICAN HISTORY OF CIVIL RIGHTS
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.
Bush Apparently Excluded From Civil Rights Commemoration
By Susan Jones
CNSNews.com Morning Editor
May 10, 2005
(CNSNews.com) - "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.