“Jim Crow” Segregation

Smithsonian National Museum Of African American History And Culture Opens: A Treasure For The Nation!

The day has finally arrived when America can celebrate the history and culture of African Americans, with the opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall near the Washington Monument in Washington, DC.

This event comes at a time of increased racial tensions and open racism in America, despite the election and two term Presidency of the first African American President, Barack Obama.

The museum exposes the true history of slavery, Jim Crow segregation. lynching, the civil rights movement, and the massive contributions of African Americans in all areas of public life over the past 397 years since slavery first came to America at Jamestown, Virginia.

This author thinks back to when he was young, and the discussion of African American history was ignored in high school, and how far we have come in understanding and dealing with the history, all of it both good and much of it evil, which had been covered up for so long.

So despite the problems we face today, this is truly a development to celebrate, and this author looks forward to visiting this new museum next summer, and for many times in the future, as the exhibits will constantly be evolving, as they are at any museum, and particularly one associated with the Smithsonian Museum, our national group of fantastic and tax supported museums that are a blessing to American culture and history!

The South’s Continuing Impact On Impeding Democracy With Voter Restriction Laws

The South lost the Civil War, but they continue to dominate American politics.

It used to be that the South was Democratic, and that they promoted slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and lynching.

Then, we had a Southern President, Lyndon B. Johnson, who accomplished the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, with the Southern wing of Democrats in Congress bitterly opposing it, and many of them, plus much of their population, abandoning the party and going to the Republicans.

Under Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, they found a home, and worked to undermine voting rights and civil rights, often with the support of those Presidents.

The state governors and legislatures became Republican controlled, and worked to limit civil rights and voting rights, and the Republican majority Supreme Court in 2013 cut back on enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

As a result, Southern states and many midwestern and mountain states under Republican governors and legislatures started to pass new restrictive laws designed to undermine voting of minorities, particularly African Americans and Hispanics-Latinos.

This led to law suits and now decisions by federal circuit courts in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Kansas, and earlier, Texas, to declare such restrictive laws unconstitutional, a major victory which could affect the Presidential Election of 2016.

There will likely be an appeal to the Supreme Court, a clear cut reason to make sure that the Democrats win the White House and the US Senate, as the outcome for this election is uncertain, and the future of the Court and voting rights in the future hangs in the balance.

It seems likely that the present Court might split 4-4 without Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February, and that would uphold the lower court decisions declaring such laws to be unconstitutional, but no certainly of that.

The South is crucial in our nation’s politics as they hold 22 seats in the US Senate, 31 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives (138 out 435), and 162 electoral votes in the Presidential race. And this does not include the Border states such as Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri, and Oklahoma, which tend to the same politics of exclusion toward minorities and voting rights.

Donald Trump Jr. A Chip Off The Old Block–Like Father, Like Son

Donald Trump Jr, the namesake of Donald Trump, had not been paid much attention before his father began his campaign for the Presidency, but now he is rumored to be planning to run for NYC Mayor in 2017.

And while it is understandable that he would defend his dad, the son is showing that he has tones of racism and nativism just like his father.

How could he go to Philadelphia, Mississippi, the site of the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, including two Jewish kids from New York City and an African American youth from Mississippi, and speak up for the Confederate flag remaining on the state flag?

Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney were murdered because they were trying to register blacks to vote in the state with the worst reputation imaginable on race relations.

Does Trump’s son have any knowledge of history, or is he as ignorant and clueless as his dad about history?

It is unconscionable that Trump Jr. could defend a symbol which is connected with the defeated Confederacy, slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and lynching!

150 Years Since Final Confederate Surrender Of Robert E. Lee To Ulysses S. Grant At Appomattox Court House In Virginia, Ending Civil War!

Today, April 9, marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War between the Union and the Confederacy, with General Robert E. Lee, the leading Confederate general, surrendering to Union General and future President Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

This tragic war ended a four year conflict, just three days before its fourth anniversary, having killed an estimated 620,000 men, with the Union military losing about 360,000 and the Confederate military losing about 260,000 men.

The Civil War ended slavery forever, and upheld nationalism over states rights, and was an inspiration to many people in England and France, which saw it as a movement toward the evolution of democracy.

But sadly, the end of the war did not change the minds of many white Southerners, and over the generations, the Democrats of the South continued to promote Jim Crow segregation; brutal lynchings of African Americans and others, including Jews and Catholics; and fought toot and nail against civil liberties and civil rights, while parading the Confederate flag, which even today flies in South Carolina and some other Southern states.

And when civil rights laws were forced on the South fifty years ago under Lyndon B. Johnson, the Democrats lost their tight control of the South, and the Republicans, the party that had freed the slaves under Abraham Lincoln and promoted civil rights under Dwight D. Eisenhower, abandoned their principles and decency and became the new party of Southern resistance to justice and civil rights. Today, all of the Southern governors, with the exception of Virginia, and the Senate, with the exception of the two members from Virginia and one from Florida, are Republicans, working to undermine voting rights and promote racism and nativism at full speed, a total disgrace.

So while we celebrate the end of the Southern rebellion a century and a half ago, in many ways, the rebellion still lives on, poisoning the political atmosphere in many states, and in the national government, and particularly so with the very clear disrespect of Southern office holders for the African American President of the United States, who has been vilified in a manner unlike anyone since Abraham Lincoln!

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz Publicly Back Discriminatory Indiana Law! What Hope Is Left For The Republican Party In 2016?

The Republican Party is going totally nuts, more than ever, as now potential Republican Presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker and Ted Cruz have issued public statements supporting Indiana Governor Mike Pence, and the passage of a law designed to make it possible that business proprietors can refuse service to gays and lesbians, when commerce has nothing to do with religion, since we have separation of church and state, and are not a theocracy.

Christians of the right wing extremism keep on saying that they are being persecuted, when they are the ones who promoted slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and antisemitism, along with other wrongs, including degradation of women, and ministerial sexual abuse in too many cases over the years!

With Christians being over 90 percent of Americans, it is preposterous to say that they are being persecuted, when they are the ones who promoted persecution in the name of Jesus, a Jew who would never have advocated their hateful actions of racism, misogyny, nativism, and homophobia!

It leaves one to wonder if there are any Republican nominees who can appeal to the mainstream of America, as it is clear most, if not all, of the other potential nominees for President, while not yet specifically stating that they back the Indiana law, it is clear that in their hearts that they will continue to resist gay rights, even with a Supreme Court decision likely this June! Based on past statements and actions catering to the Religious Right, we know that Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, and Dr Benjamin Carson are likely to back Mike Pence in the coming days!

The only possible hope left seems to be the longshot possibility of Jon Huntsman, who tried for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012, but has given up on running in 2016, easily the most decent possible candidate; or possibly Ohio Governor John Kasich, who appears to be a reasonable conservative, but has said he will decide whether to announce for President sometime this summer. Kasich, so far, seems potentially a candidate who might be able to represent the mainstream of the party, and yet remain a responsible conservative, but who can say that he will not self destruct as Jeb Bush has, for instance, just done with his statement backing Mike Pence and Indiana in promoting discrimination and homophobia?

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!

50th Anniversary Of Civil Rights Act: Most Significant Law Since Social Security In 1935!

Today is a day to celebrate, as it is the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of Lyndon B. Johnson, the most significant single law passed since Social Security under Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935!

The Civil Rights Act has had a massive impact on American society, just as the Social Security Act has had.

And yet, there are those who would love to repeal the Civil Rights Act, as well as those who would love to repeal the Social Security Act.

There are those who hate the idea that African Americans and others are treated equally under the law, and would wish for the return of Jim Crow segregation, just as there are those who hate the “welfare state” represented by the Social Security Act!

The battle for human dignity continues unabated, as the right wing will never give up trying to make America return to the Gilded Age mentality, before workers were given any rights; before immigrants started to have some respect; before women acquired equal rights to vote; before African Americans gained their right to racial equality; and now as gays and lesbians strive to gain total equality and freedom as much as straight people!

This is a moment to applaud Lyndon B. Johnson for the great deeds he accomplished in civil rights and voting rights, and at a time when the reactionary Supreme Court has started to backtrack on the Voting Rights Act, showing a true ignorance of history!

And finally, in the future, in 2060, the nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of ObamaCare, the most significant single piece of legislation since the Civil Rights Act and the Social Security Act, and Barack Obama will be given the proper respect and admiration that he might never receive in his lifetime!

The Florida “Stand Your Ground” Law, George Zimmerman and Marissa Alexander

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law was used to justify what George Zimmerman did, the killing of Trayvon Martin.

But the same law was used to justify the 20 year prison term of a black woman, Marissa Alexander, who fired a warning shot into the ceiling to ward off the threat of a beating by her husband, who had already been cited for abuse of Alexander.

Marissa Alexander did not kill anyone, only used a gun to threaten a husband who was threatening to her, and how can anyone see this as fair, to give her 20 years without parole possibility, and have her child conceived with this husband brought up by him, with her having little or no contact with her own child?

How can anyone NOT see the injustice in this, and the fact that the jury in her case only took 12 minutes to convict her? Is it any wonder that African Americans see this as open season for whites who are racists to fire guns on blacks and get away with it through the justice system?

Is it any wonder that the offices of Governor Rick Scott have faced sit ins, insisting that the Governor and the legislature do something about Marissa Alexander? Should not this law be repealed, as Attorney General Eric Holder declared yesterday? Should not Jeb Bush, the former Governor, and brother and son of two Presidents, explain how he can justify this law he signed in 2005, and should he not be expected to lead the fight to have this unjust, discriminatory, and dangerous law repealed?

And should not “Stand Your Ground” laws be reviewed as dangers to the civil rights of minorities, giving whites open season for a new, different form of lynching, as in the Jim Crow Era of Segregation?

At the least, Marissa Alexander needs to be released immediately, have her child given back to her with the father not allowed to have contact anymore because of his abusive behavior, and compensation paid to Alexander for her unjust conviction and time in prison!

The Centennial Of Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency: A Time For Debate Over His Legacy

A century ago day, Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as the 28th President of the United States,and helped to transform the Presidency in massive ways, some good and some bad.

Wilson has been under attack in the present climate of conservative attacks on reform oriented Presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Barack Obama.

The facts are that Wilson, FDR, and LBJ were the three most accomplished Presidents in domestic affairs, but with plenty of criticism about their handling of wars and the domestic relationship to those wars.

Wilson accomplished the most domestic reform of any President before him, taking on parts of Theodore Roosevelt’s New Nationalism agenda on the Progressive Party line in 1912, adding it to his own New Freedom legislative ideas.

So Wilson’s time saw the following:

Underwood Simmons Tariff

Federal Reserve Act

Clayton Anti Trust Act

Federal Trade Commission

Keating-Owen Child Labor Act

La Follette Seamen’s Act

Adamson Act (eight hour work day in interstate transportation)

Federal Farm Loan Act

Some of this did not work out well long term, and additionally, Wilson had major negative policies dealing with:

Woman Suffrage—opposing an amendment (although it came about despite him in 1920, via the 19th Amendment).

Race Relations—clearly racist policy of imposing Jim Crow segregation in Washington, DC; unfair treatment and recognition of African American sacrifices in the World War I effort; and endorsement of an openly racist film, D W Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION, which portrayed the Southern view of Reconstruction, a myth of long standing, which finally was proved inaccurate in the past half century of historical research and writing.

Civil Liberties Violations— including arrest and imprisonment of Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs for opposition to the draft and American involvement in World War I; the Espionage and Sedition Acts; and the Palmer Raids after the war.

In foreign policy, Wilson engaged in “Missionary Diplomacy” including interventions in Haiti, and more significantly in Mexico, attempting to pursue Pancho Villa for a raid across the border into Columbus, New Mexico, the worst incursion in American territory since the War of 1812. And of course, the controversy over Wilson and our entrance into World War I continues even today, and the whole debate and divisiveness over the Versailles Treaty and League of Nations in 1919-1920.

Additionally, being incapacitated by a stroke, but being unwilling to hand over temporary power to Vice President Thomas Marshall, and allowing his wife to run cabinet meetings, is another major issue in assessing Wilson’s Presidency.

So Wilson is a “very mixed bag” as a President, but usually is ranked in the bottom of the top ten of our Presidents, specifically because of his long range influence on America, rare among Presidents, for good or for bad, and there is clearly plenty of both!

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rejects Voter Suppression Bill, Sends It Back To Lower Court

A major victory for those fighting voter suppression laws was won this week in Pennsylvania, where the six member court of three Republicans and three Democrats sent the state legislature’s Republican sponsored voter ID law back to a lower court for reconsideration, meaning the likelihood that the law will not be able to be used for this fall’s election.

Two Democrats wanted the law declared unconstitutional, but one Democrat and the three Republicans decided instead to have it reconsidered by a lower court, a delaying tactic not as good as dismissing the law, but enough to make it ineffective for an election six weeks away!

This development, plus actions in courts in Ohio, Florida and Texas, make the ability of Republicans to prevent people from voting far less possible, and there has been a firing up of motivation by Democratic oriented voters to do everything they have to do to be able to vote, including spending the time to get necessary documentation, so that they cannot be denied the right to vote by any poll worker at voting sites.

But there is a conspiracy by the group called True The Vote to intimidate voters, particularly minority voters, by stalking them, making them feel they are being followed by police officers, making them afraid to vote, and challenging them at the polls as to their right to vote, even though they are not the poll workers!

The Tea Party Movement is promoting this, basically trying to bring back the Jim Crow segregation era, particularly in Southern states, but also in Republican governed states. If they cannot get the courts to back them up, they will do so by personal interference, and the promotion of fear among voters to prevent them from casting their vote.

So the battle for democracy, that everyone can vote without interference, has had some victories, but attention must be paid to the True The Vote and Tea Party activities, and everything must be done to expose and prevent any suppression efforts by this despicable group and their backers!