55 years ago today, we had a courageous, principled Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, do what was right–intervene with federal troops in Little Rock, Arkansas, to protect nine black students at Little Rock Central High School, who were being spat upon and threatened by racist men and women, who did not want to allow racial integration. This was a leading moment in the civil rights movement!
Eisenhower was berated in the South for what he did, and states rights advocates called him a Communist for his intervention, but he knew that racial discrimination was something that had to be dealt with by the federal government, and it was a very important step in Presidential leadership, and was utilized also by President John F. Kennedy at the University of Mississippi in 1962 and the University of Alabama in 1963.
Here we are more than a half century later, and we cannot count on the Republican Party of 2012 taking the same or equivalent stand, as now the Republicans’ strongest base of support is among southern working class whites, the children and grandchildren of the bigots of fifty five years ago.
It is hoped that the younger generations look at things differently, but the indications are clear that those who felt the way they did about race back then, now have been succeeded by descendants who choose to back the Republican Party, and are horrified that now we have an African American President, Barack Obama!