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In light of the emergence of a black man as a presidential contender this election season, we might do well to take note that it is not the political party or the man, but the message that is imperative. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, my uncle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said: “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Today, as enlightened, informed African-Americans living in America, we must demand that candidates represent our views — and always vote your values!
As a Republican, my goal is always to seek the will of God for good government, and then to demand accountability from all elected leaders. We are off track, seeking solutions from government, when we should be seeking the grace of God! A brief history lesson can reveal how we got to a place of looking to man instead of God for answers. In 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy defeated sitting Vice President Richard Nixon in the bid to become president.
The black vote swung the tide! My grandfather, Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr., or “Daddy King”, was a Republican and father of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was a Republican. Daddy King influenced a reported 100,000 black voters to cast previously Republican votes for Senator Kennedy even though Kennedy had voted against the 1957 Civil Rights Law. Mrs. King had appealed to Kennedy and Nixon to help her husband, and Nixon who had voted for the 1957 Civil Rights Law did not respond. At the urging of his advisors, Kennedy made a politically calculated phone call to Mrs. King, who was pregnant at the time, bringing the attention of the nation to Dr. King’s plight.
Moved by Mrs. King’s gratitude for Senator Kennedy’s intervention, Daddy King was very grateful to Senator Kennedy for his assistance in rescuing Dr. King, Jr. from a life threatening jail encounter. This experience led to a black exodus from the Republican Party. Thus, this one simple act of gratitude caused black America to quickly forget that the Republican Party was birthed in America as the antislavery party to end the scourge of slavery and combat the terror of racism and segregation. They quickly forgot that the Democratic Party was the party of the Ku Klux Klan. Banished from memory was the fact that the Democratic Party fought to keep blacks in slavery and in 1894 overturned the civil rights laws of the 1860’s that had been passed by Republicans, after the Republicans also amended the Constitution to grant blacks freedom, citizenship and the right to vote. Forgotten was the fact that it was the Republicans who started the HBCU’s and the NAACP to stop the Democrats from lynching blacks. Into the dust bin of history was tossed the fact that it was the Republicans led by Republican Senator Everett Dirksen who pushed to pass the civil rights laws in 1957, 1960, 1964, 1965 and 1968.
Removed from memory are the facts that it was Republican President Dwight Eisenhower who sent troops to Arkansas to desegregate schools, established the Civil Rights Commission in 1958, and appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren to the U.S. Supreme Court which resulted in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision ending school segregation. Meanwhile Democrats in Congress were still fighting to prevent the passage of new civil rights laws that would overturn those discriminatory Black Codes and Jim Crow laws that had been enacted by Democrats in the South. There would have been no law for President Lyndon Johnson to sign in 1964 had it not been for the Republicans breaking the Democrats’ filibuster of the law and pushing to have that landmark legislation enacted.
No one batted an eye when President Kennedy opposed the 1963 March on Washington by Dr. King. Hardly a ripple of protest was uttered when President Kennedy, through his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy, had Dr. King wiretapped and investigated on suspicion of being a Communist. Little attention was paid to the fact that it was a Democrat, Public Safety Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Conner, who in 1963 turned dogs and fire hoses on Dr. King and other civil rights protesters. No one noted that it was a Democrat, Georgia Governor Lester Maddox, who waved ax handles to stop blacks from patronizing his restaurant. Nor was heed paid to the fact that it was a Democrat, Alabama Governor George Wallace, who stood in front of the Alabama schoolhouse in 1963 and thundered: “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
None of those racist Democrats became Republicans. During this time of turmoil, completely forgotten was the fact that it was Democrat Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus who in 1954 had blocked desegregation of a Little Rock public school. To their eternal shame, the chief opponents of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act were Democrats Senators Sam Ervin, Albert Gore, Sr. and Robert Byrd, a former Klansman. All of the racist Democrats that Dr. King was fighting remained Democrats until the day they died. How can anyone today think that Dr. King, my uncle, would have joined the party of the KKK?
There is a law of unexpected outcomes. Who could have predicted that the black exodus from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party in the 1960’s would have also ushered in decades of destruction which continue to plague our communities today? So what happened during those ensuring decades? Let’s review the saga that continues.
See also: Democrats & Civil Rights: A Shameful Legacy (9/28/2008)