By Frances Rice
As we celebrate Juneteenth, also know as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, it is fitting that we pause to recognize the origin of this important part of our African American heritage.
June 19th marks the day in 1865 when word reached blacks in Texas that slavery in the United States had been abolished. More than two years earlier, on January 1, 1863, Republican President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
Delivered during the American Civil War, this proclamation ordered the freeing of all slaves in states that were rebelling against Union forces. The proclamation had little effect in Texas, where there were few Union troops to enforce the order.
News of the proclamation officially reached Texas on June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger, backed by nearly 2,000 troops, arrived in the city of Galveston and publicly announced that slavery in the United States had ended. Republicans had passed the Thirteenth Amendment on January 31, 1865 that was ratified on December 6, 1865 to abolish slavery in the United States.
Reactions among newly freed slaves ranged from shock and disbelief to jubilant celebration. That day has been known ever since as Juneteenth, a name probably derived from the slang combination of the words June and nineteenth.
Juneteenth commemorations began in Texas in 1866. Within a few years they had spread to other states and became an annual tradition, celebrating freedom for blacks in addition to many other themes, including education, self-improvement, African American accomplishments throughout history, and tolerance and respect for all cultures.
The racial divisiveness prevalent today would not exist if the Democrats in control of the Southern states had left African Americans alone at the moment in history when blacks were freed from slavery and the Juneteenth celebrations began. Instead Democrats set for themselves the horrendous task of keeping blacks in virtual slavery.
Southern Democrats passed discriminatory Black Codes in 1865 to suppress, restrict, and deny blacks the same privileges as whites. The Codes forced blacks to serve as apprentices to their former slave masters.
In 1866, the Ku Klux Klan was started by Democrats to lynch and terrorize Republicans, black and white, and the Ku Klux Klan became the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party.
To counter the discriminatory and terrorizing actions by Democrats, Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Reconstruction Act of 1867 that was designed to establish a new government system in the Democrat-controlled South, one that was fair to blacks.
Further, the Fourteenth Amendment pushed by Republicans was ratified in1868 that granted blacks citizenship. The Fifteenth Amendment also pushed by Republicans was ratified in 1870 that granted blacks the right to vote.
Undaunted, Democrats passed discriminatory Jim Crow Laws in 1875 to restrict the rights of blacks to use public facilities. In response, Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which prohibited racial discrimination in public facilities.
Shamefully, Democrats fought against anti-lynching laws, and when the Democrats regained control of Congress in 1892, they passed the Repeal Act of 1894 that overturned civil right laws enacted by Republicans. Further, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with Democrats and issued a ruling in the case of “Plessy v. Ferguson” in 1896 that established the "separate but equal" doctrine. That opinion stated that it was not a violation of the Constitution to have separate facilities for blacks. It took Republicans nearly six decades to finally get the civil rights laws of the 1950’s and 1960’s passed over the objection of the Democrats.
To advance civil rights for blacks, Republicans started the NAACP on February 12, 1909, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. The first black head of the NAACP was black Republican James Weldon Johnson who became general secretary in 1920 and wrote the lyrics to the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing”. Republicans also founded the HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) because Democrats were trying to prevent blacks from getting a good education.
During the civil rights era of the 1960's, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought to stop Democrats from denying civil rights to blacks. It should come as no surprise that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a Republican as has been affirmed by his niece, Dr. Alveda C. King.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not have joined the Democratic Party, the party of the Ku Klux Klan and segregation.
Dr. King fought against Democrat Public Safety Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor in Birmingham who let loose vicious dogs and turned skin-burning fire hoses on black civil rights demonstrators.
Democrat Georgia Governor Lester Maddox famously brandished ax handles to prevent blacks from patronizing his restaurant. Democrat Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in front of the Alabama schoolhouse in 1963 and thundered, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." All of these racist Democrats remained Democrats until the day they died.
The so-called “Dixiecrats” remained Democrats and did not migrate to the Republican Party. The Dixiecrats were a group of Southern Democrats who, in the 1948 national election, ran a third party ticket that supported segregation and Jim Crow laws passed by Democrats. Even so, they continued to be Democrats for all local and state elections, as well as for all future national elections.
Unknown today is the fact that the Democratic Party supported the Topeka, Kansas school board in the 1954 “Brown v. Topeka Board of Education” Supreme Court decision by Chief Justice Earl Warren who was appointed by Republican President Dwight Eisenhower. This landmark decision declared that the "separate but equal" doctrine violated the 14th Amendment and ended school segregation.
After the Brown decision, Democrat Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus tried to prevent desegregation of a Little Rock public school. President Eisenhower sent troops to Arkansas to desegregate the schools and pushed through the 1957 Civil Rights Act. In 1958, Eisenhower established a permanent US Civil Rights Commission that had been rejected by prior Democrat presidents, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Ignored today is the fact that it was Roosevelt who started blacks on the path to dependency on government handouts during the Great Depression with his “New Deal” that turned out to be a bad deal for blacks. Even though Roosevelt received the vote of many blacks, Roosevelt banned black American newspapers from the military because he was convinced the newspapers were communists.
Much is made of Democrat President Harry Truman's issuing an Executive Order in 1948 to desegregate the military. Not mentioned is the fact that it was Eisenhower who actually took action to effectively end segregation in the military.
Little known is the fact that it was Republican Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois, not Democrat President Lyndon Johnson, who pushed through the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act. In fact, Dirksen was instrumental in the passage of civil rights legislation in 1957, 1960, 1964, 1965 and 1968. The chief opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were Democrat Senators Sam Ervin, Albert Gore, Sr. and Robert Byrd, a former official in the Ku Klux Klan who is still in Congress. None of these racist Democrats became Republicans.
Democrats ignore the pivotal role played by Senator Dirksen in obtaining passage of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, while heralding President Johnson as a civil rights advocate for signing the bill.
Notably, in his 4,500-word State of the Union Address delivered on January 4, 1965, Johnson mentioned scores of topics for federal action, but only thirty five words were devoted to civil rights. He did not mention one word about voting rights. Information about Johnson’s anemic civil rights policy positions can be found in the “Public Papers of the President, Lyndon B. Johnson,” 1965, vol. 1, p.1-9.
In their campaign to unfairly paint the Republican Party today as racists, Democrats point to President Johnson’s prediction that there would be an exodus from the Democratic Party because of Johnson’s signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Omitted from the Democrats’ rewritten history is what Johnson actually meant by his prediction. Johnson’s statement was not made out of a concern that racist Democrats would suddenly join the Republican Party that was fighting for the civil rights of blacks. Instead, Johnson feared that the racist Democrats would again form a third party, such as the short-lived States Rights Democratic Party. In fact, Alabama’s Democrat Governor George C. Wallace in 1968 started the American Independent Party that attracted other racist candidates, including Democrat Atlanta Mayor (later Governor of Georgia) Lester Maddox.
Democrat President John F. Kennedy is also lauded as a civil rights advocate. In reality, Kennedy voted against the 1957 Civil rights Act while he was a senator. After he became president, John F. Kennedy opposed the 1963 March on Washington by Dr. King that was organized by A. Phillip Randolph who was a black Republican.
President Kennedy, through his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy, had Dr. King wiretapped and investigated by the FBI on suspicion of being a Communist in order to undermine Dr. King. To his credit, Republican President Ronald Reagan made Dr. King’s birthday a federal holiday, ignoring how the Democrats had smeared Dr. King.
Democrats denounced Senator Trent Lott for his remarks about Senator Strom Thurmond. However, there was silence when Democrat Senator Christopher Dodd praised Senator Byrd, a former official in the Ku Klux Klan, as someone who would have been "a great senator for any moment.” Senator Thurmond was never in the Ku Klux Klan and, after he became a Republican, Thurmond defended blacks against lynching and the discriminatory poll taxes imposed on blacks by Democrats.
Democrats today castigate Republican Senator Barry Goldwater as anti-black. However a review of Senator Barry Goldwater’s record shows that he was a Libertarian, not a racist. Goldwater was a member of the Arizona NAACP and was involved in desegregating the Arizona National Guard.
Goldwater also supported the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and the Civil Rights Act of 1960, as well as the constitutional amendment banning the poll tax. His opposition to the more comprehensive Civil Rights Act of 1964 was based on his libertarian views about government. Goldwater believed that the 1964 Act, as written, unconstitutionally extended the federal government's commerce power to private citizens, furthering the government’s efforts to "legislate morality" and restrict the rights of employers.
It is instructive to read the entire text of Goldwater's 1964 speech at the 28th Republican National Convention, accepting the nomination for president that is available from the Arizona Historical Foundation. By the end of his career, Goldwater was one of the most respected members of either party and was considered a stabilizing influence in the Senate. Senator Goldwater's speech may be found also on the Internet at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/daily/may98/goldwaterspeech.htm
In the arsenal of the Democrats is a condemnation of Republican President Richard Nixon for his so-called “Southern Strategy.” These same Democrats expressed no concern when the racially segregated South voted solidly for Democrats for over 100 years, yet unfairly deride Republicans because of the thirty-year odyssey of the South switching to the Republican Party that began in the 1970's. Nixon's "Southern Strategy” was an effort on his part to get fair-minded people in the South to stop voting for Democrats who did not share their values and were discriminating against blacks. Georgia did not switch until 2004, and Louisiana was controlled by Democrats until the election of Republican Governor Bobby Jindal in 2007.
As the co-architect of Nixon’s “Southern Strategy”, Pat Buchanan provided a first-hand account of the origin and intent of that strategy in a 2002 article that can be found on the Internet at: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=30233
In that article, Buchanan wrote that when Nixon kicked off his historic comeback in 1966 with a column about the South (written by Buchanan), Nixon declared that the Republican Party would be built on a foundation of states rights, human rights, small government and a strong national defense, and leave it to the “party of Maddox, Mahoney and Wallace to squeeze the last ounce of political juice out of the rotting fruit of racial injustice.”
During the 1966 campaign, Nixon was personally thanked by Dr. King for his help in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Nixon also endorsed all Republicans, except the members of the John Birch Society.
Notably, the enforcement of affirmative action began with Richard Nixon‘s 1969 Philadelphia Plan (crafted by black Republican Art Fletcher who became know as “the father of affirmative action enforcement”) that set the nation‘s first goals and timetables. Nixon was also responsible for the passage of civil rights legislation in the 1970’s.
Fletcher, as president of the United Negro College Fund, coined the phrase “the mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Fletcher was also one of the original nine plaintiffs in the famous “Brown v. Topeka Board of Education” decision. Fletcher briefly pursued a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1995.
Nixon began his merit-based affirmative action program to overcome the harm caused by Democrat President Woodrow Wilson who, after he was elected in 1912, kicked blacks out of federal government jobs and prevented blacks from obtaining federal contracts. Also, while Wilson was president and Congress was controlled by the Democrats, more discriminatory bills were introduced in Congress than ever before in our nation’s history. Today, Democrats have turned affirmative action into an unfair quota system that even most blacks do not support.
Just as Democrats built their economic power base on the backs of poor blacks during the time of slavery, Democrats today have built their political power base on the backs of poor blacks today.
As author Michael Scheuer stated, the Democratic Party is the party of the four S's: slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism.
Democrats have been running black communities for the past 40 years, and the socialist policies of the Democrats have destroyed the economic and social fabric of black communities. A wise man once wrote that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
It is way past time for blacks to end their unfounded loyalty to the Democratic Party, stop having their vote taken for granted and seize control over their own destiny.
Only then will blacks be truly free.