A new controversy has developed around a pastor supporting Herman Cain, an African American pastor to boot, that it is the Democratic Party which historically has been racist and segregationist and prejudicial, while the Republican Party is the party of opportunity and liberation of blacks.
How true is this interpretation of the past and the present?
It is literally TRUE that for a long time, the South was solely Democratic, the “Solid South” from the time of Reconstruction through the mid 1960s, including such outrageous figures as Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi, Tom Watson of Georgia, Harry Byrd Sr. of Virginia, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, Russell Long of Louisiana, Richard Russell of Georgia, George Wallace of Alabama, James Eastland of Mississippi, Jesse Helms of North Carolina and many others, all of whom promoted racism, segregation, prejudice, and in many cases, were members of or endorsed actions of the Ku Klux Klan. This also included the openly racist Presidential campaigns of Strom Thurmond in 1948 and George Wallace in 1968.
However, during this period from Reconstruction through the 1960s, the Republican Party, which had once stood for racial equality, and had promoted the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments during Reconstruction, abandoned blacks to the white Democratic South after 1877, and did not resist the loss of the right to vote for African Americans in the South. When blacks migrated north, and started to vote in substantial numbers, they switched over to the Democratic Party in a massive wave in the time of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
Beginning with President Harry Truman promoting civil rights by executive order in 1948 and calling for civil rights legislation in his term of office, and the activities of Northern liberal Democrats led by Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, and later leading to civil rights legislation under President Lyndon B. Johnson in the mid 1960s, Southern whites migrated in massive numbers to the Republican Party, with the first political move being Senator Strom Thurmond’s switch in 1964, endorsing Barry Goldwater for President.
The Republican Party ever since the New Deal has shown little interest or support of the advancement of civil rights as a party, although individual moderate to liberal Republicans have supported such reforms.
So the statements of this pastor supporting Herman Cain are true in the long run of history, but saw a massive change beginning slowly with the New Deal, but culminating with the Great Society, and nothing has changed that dynamic since the 1960s.