Every February, Black History Month recalls Democrat Harry Truman’s 1948 armed forces desegregation and Democrat Lyndon Johnson’s signature on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the greatest black legislative victory since Republican Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in 1863. This annual commemoration, however, largely overlooks many milestones Republicans and blacks have achieved together by overcoming reactionary Democrats.
The 2005 Republican Freedom Calendar, published by Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., and the House Policy Committee (www.policy.house.gov), traces GOP support for blacks, often over Democratic objections. White supremacists, for example, worked club in hand with Democrats for decades:
July 30, 1866: New Orleans’ Democratic government ordered police to raid an integrated GOP meeting, killing 40 people and injuring 150.
Sept. 28, 1868: Democrats in Opelousas, Louisiana killed nearly 300 blacks who tried to foil an assault on a Republican newspaper editor.
April 20, 1871: The GOP Congress adopted the Ku Klux Klan Act, banning the pro-Democrat domestic terrorist group.
Aug. 17, 1937: Republicans opposed Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt’s Supreme Court nominee, Sen. Hugo Black, D-Ala., a former Klansman who defended Klansmen against race-murder charges.
February 2005: The Democrats’ Klan-coddling today is embodied by KKK alumnus Robert Byrd, West Virginia’s logorrheic senator. On March 4, 2001, Byrd told Fox News Sunday: “There are white niggers. I’ve seen a lot of white niggers in my time; I’m going to use that word.” Byrd led Senate Democrats as late as December 1988. National Democrats never have arranged a primary challenge against or otherwise pressed this one-time cross-burner to get lost.
Republicans also have supported legislation favorable to blacks, often against intense Democratic headwinds:
In 1866, 94 percent of GOP senators and 96 percent of GOP House members approved the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing all Americans equal protection of the law. Every congressional Democrat voted: “No.”
Feb. 8, 1894: Democratic President Grover Cleveland and a Democratic Congress repealed the GOP’s Enforcement Act, thus denying black voters federal protection.
Jan. 26, 1922: The House adopted a GOP bill to make lynching a federal crime. Filibustering Senate Democrats killed the measure.
May 17, 1954: Republican Chief Justice Earl Warren led the Supreme Court’s desegregation of government schools in Brown v. Board of Education. GOP President Dwight Eisenhower’s Justice Department argued for Topeka, Kansas’ black school children. Democrat John W. Davis, who lost a presidential bid to incumbent Republican Calvin Coolidge in 1924, defended “separate but equal” classrooms.
Sept. 24, 1957: Eisenhower deployed the 82nd Airborne Division to desegregate Little Rock’s government schools over the strenuous resistance of Democratic Gov. Orval Faubus.
July 2, 1964: Democratic President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act after former Klansman Robert Byrd’s 14-hour filibuster and the votes of 34 percent of Senate Democrats (but only 18 percent of Republicans) failed to scuttle the measure.
The Republican Party also is the home of numerous “firsts.” Among them:
- The first blacks to serve in the House and Senate were both black men seated in 1870. In 1872, Louisiana Republican Pinckney Pinchback became America’s first black governor.
- President Reagan appointed Colin Powell America’s first black national security adviser while GOP President George W. Bush nominated him our first black secretary of state.
- President G.W. Bush named Condoleezza Rice America’s first black female NSC chief, then our second (consecutive) black secretary of state. Just last month, one-time Klansman Robert Byrd and other Senate Democrats stalled Rice’s confirmation for a week. Amid unanimous GOP support, 12 Democrats voted: “No.”
“My father joined our party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him to vote,” Rice has said. “The Republicans did. My father has never forgotten that day, and neither have I.”
Alas, even as Republicans promote work over welfare, educational choice, and personal retirement accounts, which all would empower blacks, some 90 percent of blacks vote Democrat as reflexively as knees kick when tapped with rubber mallets. After inspecting the Democrats’ handiwork _ e.g. the tar pit that is public assistance, the Dresden that is the ghetto school system, and the pyramid scheme that is Social Security (which robs too many blacks who die before recouping their “investment”) _ black Americans should ask Democrats: “Yesterday’s gone. What have you done for us lately?”
New York commentator Deroy Murdock is an advisory board member of Project 21, a Washington-based network of black free-market advocates. (www.project21.org).