Civil Rights Movement

The Complete Reversal Of American Politics: Republicans In The South, Democrats In Large Populated Northeastern, Midwestern And Western States!

The defeat of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu on Saturday marks the complete reversal of American politics from the years 1877 to the present.

After the Reconstruction of the South ended, with Union Army troops leaving, twelve years after the Civil War, the South became an area totally dominated by Democrats, resentful of the Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War defeat, and the passage of Amendments 13, 14, and 15, ending slavery, making blacks citizens, and giving the men the right to vote.

The South went into massive resistance, creating Jim Crow segregation to replace slavery, and until the election of Herbert Hoover in 1928 and Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, it was always a solid Democratic South with no black voting, due to discriminatory state laws that were ignored by generations of the federal government. Hoover won much of the South due to his Catholic opponent, Alfred E. Smith, in 1928, and Eisenhower won over Adlai Stevenson twice in the 1950s due to his personal popularity and World War II D Day reputation.

But only when the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing, starting in the 1950s, and reaching its peak with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 under Lyndon B. Johnson, did we see the beginning of a mass exodus of office holders and ordinary white population, to the Republican Party, starting with Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina in 1964, switching parties to back Republican Senator Barry Goldwater against President Lyndon B. Johnson.

As the Democrats started to lose power in the South, the nomination of Southern governors Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and the rise of “New South” Governors like them and others in the Democratic Party, slowed up the switch to the GOP.

But the election of Barack Obama, considered anathema in the South, has now led to the entire wiping out of Southern Democrats in Congress, except for black and Jewish members of the House in districts gerrymandered that give the Republicans more total Congressional and state legislative seats in the South. Only a few other white non jewish members of the House remain, and they are endangered in the political climate of the South in 2014.

Only Virginia has both its Senators and Governor (Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Terry McAuliffe) as Democrats, and only Florida has one other Democratic Senator, Bill Nelson at this point, as we enter 2015.

And both Virginia and Florida have Republican dominated legislatures, as well as the other states that made up the Confederate States of America.

And, of course, Florida includes the heavily Northern South Florida, and Virginia has the heavily Northern North Virginia, influenced by being part of the DC suburbs, and otherwise, these three Senators and one Governor would not be in public office.

So the complete reversal of a century and a half ago has occurred, and is unlikely to be changed for a generation or more, at the least.

This means that the South will remain as it is now for a generation or more, and that the issue of race nearly a century and a half ago, again stands out as the key difference that separates that section from the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, the heavily populated areas of the nation in the Northeast, Midwest and West are more Democratic than ever, and are unlikely to change either over time, creating political deadlock long term over the future, stifling change and creating constant political conflict and deadlock!

Barack Obama In Line With Presidents Abraham Lincoln And Harry Truman! Profiles In Courage!

President Barack Obama is in line with Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman in his courageous use of executive orders, which were highly unpopular, but the right thing to do!

Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, despite his entire cabinet suggesting that he not do so, as it would cause great controversy. But Lincoln knew it was the right thing to do morally and ethically, and that politically, it would help to prevent Great Britain and France from recognizing the Confederate States of America, which would have caused war between the US and the two major European powers.

Truman knew that his executive order ending segregation in the armed forces and in Washington DC would rile up the Southern states, and cause his election campaign a lot of damage in the Old South, but he went ahead anyway, because it was the right thing to do, and politically, it made him a profile in courage. Despite losing four Southern states to the States Rights Presidential candidate, Governor Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, Truman still staged an upset victory over Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey. His actions against segregation cemented an African American alliance long term with the Democratic Party, and spurred the growth of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

Now, Barack Obama taking action on immigration reform, is taking a courageous action, vehemently opposed by Republicans and conservatives, but the right thing to do morally and ethically. The long term effect will be to cement the Hispanic-Latino-Asian alliance with the Democratic Party, and will insure that the Republicans will be marginalized, as the white population dwindles over time, and the elderly right wing majority will disappear over time.

Let us salute our President, as history judges Lincoln and Truman, for having done the right thing in the midst of massive assault and threats of retribution. This is what the Presidency is all about–principle, conviction, and courage!

Commemoration Of Mississippi “Freedom Summer” Fifty Years Ago!

Fifty years ago, the Mississippi “Freedom Summer”, including thousands of northerners, white and black, who came to Mississippi to register black voters, in a state which was the absolute worst in race relations, and in many ways still is even now, was marked by the death of three civil rights workers–James Chaney who was black, and Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were New Yorkers, Jewish, and students at Queens College in Flushing, New York, my alma mater, and where I was attending at that time.

Tonight, PBS has a two hour “American Experience”, detailing the horrors of Mississippi in 1964, very close to Nazi Germany in its mentality. The documentary portrays the sacrifices and dangers faced by the Civil Rights Movement, occurring just as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed and signed into law. The following year, the Voting Rights Act was passed, in commemoration of the reality of so many barriers, including intimidation of blacks who wanted to vote, including the threat to take away their jobs, force them out of their homes, or even starve them!

When one thinks of what the Republican Party in the South now is doing to cut down the black vote, to deny them the right as if there was no Voting Rights Act, it causes great outrage! And the fact that the Supreme Court has weakened the law, as if there is no need to enforce it, when it is clear that bias still exists in the South, and even elsewhere, is enough to infuriate fair minded people! And finally, the fact that Clarence Thomas, the only black member of the Court, and a beneficiary of affirmative action, sees no need for enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, and has turned on his own race, it is truly maddening!

The False Glamor Of Secession: The “Red” States, Quebec, And Scotland

The concept of secession has become a key word in society when there are discontented people who somehow believe central government in a democracy is evil, because it will not allow them to pursue their prejudices.

So we have, more in the past than right now, the glamor of secession that has been promoted by French speaking Quebec to overcome the English influence in the rest of Canada, although Quebec would be in very poor economic shape if it did secede.

We also have the move for Scotland to secede from the United Kingdom, breaking away from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but in reality, that would impoverish Scotland.

And then we have the “Red” states, particularly those in the South, but also including the Southwest and the Great Plains, who dream of secession, mourning the failure of secession during the Civil War.

And yet, it is these “Red” states that are, by far, the poorest states in America, and get loads of benefits from the national government that they profess to hate!

It seems more the reality that these people living in the “Red” states who wish secession are purely ignorant, lack education, and have no clue as to how much they benefit from the federal government, so they are spiting themselves with their own stubbornness.

But really, what it comes down to is that they resent the inability to discriminate freely against African Americans, Latinos, women, and gays, due to federal laws and intervention by federal courts.

These states claim to be “devout” and “religious”, but actually are far from being so, as they lack all ethics and morals that true religion teaches!

These states have many people who wish the 19th century was back, when men dominated women, whites dominated over African Americans, and a small plantation elite controlled all government, much of it in the national government, until that “evil” man, Abraham Lincoln, came along and reasserted the basic teachings of the Founding Fathers, that this was a nation of freedom, liberty, and justice, even though many of the Founding Fathers practiced hypocrisy and deception themselves, but knew it was wrong! The Civil Rights Movement had begun with the end of slavery, a long, hard fought battle still being waged!

Lincoln opened up a new concept of America, and he would see leaders in the 20th century, including Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson assert federal authority in the manner of Lincoln, revolutionizing the two political parties. The Democrats would become the Republicans of the Civil War in principle, and the Republicans would become the old, prejudiced Southern Democrats, fighting against equal opportunity and justice.

Meanwhile, the people of the “Red” states became victims, who were appealed to on the basis of fundamentalist religion, which had worked against integration of the races, and wanted to keep women down in a subservient position, and worked against promotion of equality for gays and lesbians, even though they had such people in their own midst, preaching one thing and conducting their lives as the opposite, pure hypocrisy!

Once the struggling people of the “Red” states realize they have been victimized by religious and political propaganda, the Republican Party will be as dead as a doornail, as it is a party based on pure hypocrisy and lack of basic principles of the party they created 160 years ago!

50th Anniversary Commemoration Of Birmingham Baptist Church Bombing: A Time For Reflection

50 years ago today, in the most segregated city in America, led by the most divisive Governor in America at the time, hate and racism combined to lead to a horrific bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Governor George Wallace had already become the symbol of the worst in America, having stood in the door of the Registrar’s Office at the University of Alabama, trying to prevent two black college students from attending the state university based upon their race, but with President John F. Kennedy sending in the National Guard to insure their entrance and security.

Four young black girls were killed in the bombing, an incomprehensible event committed by the Ku Klux Klan, against a house of worship.

This event galvanized the civil rights movement, although it took decades to prosecute and convict the perpetrators of this slaughter.

C Span today is spending much of the day on American History TV commemorating this tragedy, and reflecting on how far we have come in fifty years, and how far we have progressed. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a direct result of this tragedy, helped along by the brilliance of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who overcame the Senate filibuster to accomplish what seemed like impossible odds to overcome opposition.

Congress awarded Congressional Gold Medals in honor of the four girls, in a recent ceremony, and bronze replicas are available for purchase through the US Mint, a great suggestion for a wonderful gift to remind the younger generation of the sacrifices of those involved in the civil rights movement.

Harry Truman And Integration Of Armed Forces In 1948: True Beginning Of Modern Civil Rights Movement 65 Years Ago!

On this day in 1948, 65 years ago, President Harry Truman, who had grown up in a traditional Southern Confederate home in Missouri, took a very courageous step, integrating the military by executive order, causing an uproar in the South and in the military itself, but standing by his decision that segregation and second class citizenship in the military must stop, particularly after the major contribution of African Americans during World War II.

This was the first Presidential action since Ulysses S. Grant promoted the Civil Rights Acts during his administration 75 years earlier.

It harmed Truman’s quest for a full term, spurring the creation of the States Rights party (Dixiecrats), and the candidacy of Strom Thurmond for President, and Thurmond won four Southern states and 39 electoral votes, the second best total ever until that time, but Truman pulled out a miraculous victory anyway!

Truman followed up the action on the military, by integrating Washington, DC, which had been ordered segregated by executive order of Woodrow Wilson in 1913!

What Truman did had an effect on the Supreme Court and future Presidents and Congresses, and the civil rights movement owes a lot to the courage and principle and decency of President Truman, who took a stand that could have defeated him, but that he knew was the right thing to do!

Georgia Congressman John Lewis: The Connection Between Voting Rights And Gay Rights

Georgia Congressman John Lewis has been a major civil rights leader, connected with Martin Luther King, Jr,, and had his head cracked while marching for voting rights in the South.

As a Congressman since 1987, Lewis has been a voice of conscience, and was a rare case of a politician condemning the Defense Of Marriage Act , when it passed Congress in 1996, and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, afraid to take a stand against it, due to his reelection campaign of that year for the Presidency.

At that time, Lewis compared the concept of interracial marriage,. which had been illegal until 1967, and said gay marriage was no different than interracial marriage, that anyone should be able to marry the person he or she loves!

So Lewis was devastated by the decision of the Supreme Court, negating Section 4 of the Voting Rights Acts of 1965, while thrilled by the decisions of the Supreme Court allowing for gay marriage in California, and for federal recognition of gay marriage, relating to its legality, and the right of gay couples to benefits and privileges of married couples!

Lewis has felt all kinds of emotion in the past two days, and he has stated eloquently, that voting rights guarantees that took nearly a century to accomplish, and were in place for almost half a century,. are now gone, and will it take another century to restore the guarantee of voting rights without any discrimination?

So it is hard not to feel the pain and emotional turmoil this great man, an icon of civil rights, is going through at age 73! God bless him and protect him for many more years of devoted service to civil rights and human rights!

We will see him again as the one surviving major civil rights leaders who participated 50 years ago in the March On Washington on August 28, 1963, which will be reenacted on August 24, 2013!

50 Years Since Civil Rights Activist Medgar Evers Was Killed In Mississippi

A sad anniversary was reached today, as 50 years ago, civil rights activist Medgar Evers was killed in Mississippi by gunfire, as he stepped out of his car at his home, just hours after Alabama Governor George Wallace had stood in the door of the Registrar’s Office at the University of Alabama, attempting to stop the registration of two black students at the university, which had led to President John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Speech that evening, one of the greatest Presidential speeches in American history!

It was just past midnight, when Evers, the Mississippi Field Secretary of the NAACP, was slaughtered, leaving three young children and a wife, Myrlie Evers-Williams, who survives him after 50 years, and later became the Chairwoman of the NAACP.

His assassin went free after a hung jury, but was later convicted on new evidence thirty years later, and served time in prison for the last seven years of his life.

A community college in New York City was created within a few years in his honor, and Evers has remained a leading part of the civil rights story.

His death also shaped the thoughts of a young generation of whites and blacks, and stained the reputation of both Mississippi and Alabama, as the two worst states on civil rights above all others, with Mississippi often compared in many ways to Nazi Germany in its treatment of its minority population, before the federal government intervened and enforced civil rights on all states by legislation in 1964, repudiating the arguments of states rights!

Martin Luther King Jr. At 84: What Might Have Been?

45 years ago on this day, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, ending his brief but eventful life at the age of 39.

Since his death, the vicious attacks on his nonviolent disobedience tactic in the civil rights movement has been rejected, except by the extreme right wing, which still contends that King and his followers were “communists”, the automatic accusation used whenever anyone challenges the establishment in any form.

King is now memorialized by the national holiday, and the King Memorial in Washington DC makes him also a national figure of massive proportions, as he was in life.

One has to wonder what King would have been like, had he survived until today at the age of 84.

Would his contributions have been greater, and would civil rights have advanced further than it has since his death?

Would he have become a factor in future elections in a way that might have changed the course of history?

What would have been his effect on the prosecution of the Vietnam War under Richard Nixon?

How would he have reacted to Jimmy Carter as the first Southern President since Zachary Taylor in 1848?

How would the Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II Presidencies have interacted with him, assuming everything politically would have been the same?

And finally, how would King have reacted to Barack Obama and his leadership in the Presidency?

Would American foreign policy and domestic policy have been influenced much by a live Martin Luther King, Jr?

All of this is speculative, but it is clear the nation lost a great deal with King’s untimely death in 1968!

As Rosa Parks Statue Is Unveiled In The US Capitol, Voting Rights Act Comes Under Review By Supreme Court!

This morning, a 9 foot statue of Rosa Parks, the “Mother” of the Civil Rights Movement, for her heroism in allowing herself to become the center of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-1956, was unveiled in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol Building.

This is a wonderful event to commemorate the greatest human rights movement in American history, and the excitement over how far we have come, with President Barack Obama leading in commemorating the event, and the feeling of satisfaction that we have gone far enough in the half century since 1955, that we have an African American President in his second term in office!

But at the same time, ironically, a challenge by the state of Alabama, which arrested Rosa Parks for refusing to change her seat on a bus in Montgomery, is arguing a case before the Supreme Court today, which if successful, will negate Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which requires nine Southern states and portions of seven other states, which have been shown to be discriminatory in voting regulations in their past, to have to submit any voting law changes to the Justice Department before they can be put into effect.

The argument is that the law is outmoded and no longer necessary, but that is not the case, as last year, there were attempts in many states to make it more difficult for African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, young people, the elderly, and the poor to be able to register and or vote, plus restrictive days and hours of voting, designed to help Republicans and Mitt Romney gain an unfair advantage in the elections.

Just because Alabama claims the law is no longer needed is belied by history and recent events, and the Congress has renewed the Voting Rights Act multiple times, and it should not be the right of the Supreme Court to repeal a law in effect for nearly a half century!

But this conservative Court just might do that, which would be a miscarriage of justice, and another example of how the Court has started to get out of control of promotion of true justice! Their decision on this case, along with the move to make Citizens United just the beginning of special interest investments to fix elections, and the gay marriage case, will make the Court’s decisions in the next few months extremely significant, and worrisome for those who believe the John Roberts Court is reckless and dangerous, with its conservative majority put on it by Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush!