The American South has undergone a lot of change in the past half century since the March On Washington in 1963.
Many Northerners have moved South; many people of African American and Latino heritage have grown up in an environment where segregation and open prejudice is gone: and we have seen Southern Presidents who completely represented a different image of the South.
So we have President Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, who overcame his past and his heritage, and promoted the Civil Rights Revolution, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
We have Jimmy Carter of Georgia, the first Southerner elected from outside since Zachary Taylor in 1848, representing the “New South” Governors elected in 1970, including Ruben Askew of Florida and Dale Bumpers of Arkansas. Carter promoted advancements in civil rights and human rights, and demonstrated then, and right up to this moment, that he is a very principled, decent man.
And we have Bill Clinton, elected Governor of Arkansas, representing the New South tradition after Dale Bumpers had initiated it in Arkansas, and being a major promoter of civil rights and equality during his Presidency, as much as Johnson and Carter.
And we have John Lewis, the only surviving speaker at the March on Washington, now 73 years old, and carrying on the tradition of his mentor, Martin Luther King, Jr. He has been an exemplary Congressman from Georgia, and truly the conscience of the nation on civil rights!
These four gentlemen, three Presidents and a Congressman, represent the best of the “New South”!
The “Old South” was thought to be overcome, particularly over time with the death of Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, and others of their ilk.
But as it turns out, the “Old South” mentality has survived even past these two GOP leaders who promoted segregation and hate, as the 2013 Republican Party, with the evil influence of the Tea Party Movement, is working very hard to back track on racial equality, racial progress, racial justice, and using code language to appeal to the bigots and racists who remain in America, whether in the South or Midwest or Great Plains areas of the nation, and hoping to repeal the progress of the past half century.
They do this without shame or embarrassment, and that is what is most troubling, and they even have their talk show hosts on radio and television and cable, who spew forth hateful and divisive propaganda with no apologies–Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity et al—and make millions on promotion of hate and division, rather than trying to bring us together and move forward!
So the “Old South” is, ironically, surviving in the party of Abraham Lincoln, Thaddeus Stevens, Charles Sumner and the other principled Republicans of 150 years ago, who fought against the “Old South” and slavery, and would, if they were here today, hold their heads in their hands, and weep over what the Republican Party they loved, has become!