“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” ~ James Baldwin
May 22, 1856 Republican US Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts was nearly beaten to death on the floor of the US Senate by US Representative Preston Brooks, a member of the Democratic Party of South Carolina.
Not one Democratic member of the House or Senate voted for the 14th Amendment to grant citizenship to former slaves.
The White League was a paramilitary arm of the Democratic Party and started in 1874 to terrorize white Republicans and Blacks. The White League was credited with contributing to the Democratic Party takeover of the Louisiana legislature in 1876, members of the White League were absorbed into the state militias and the National Guard.
Described by a federal grand jury in 1870 as a terrorist arm of the Democratic Party the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded in 1866 to wage an underground war of violence and intimidation on white and Black Republicans.
The first grand wizard of the KKK was honored at the 1868 Democratic National Convention.
With the regaining of political power in all Southern states in 1877 the Democratic Party legislators passed state laws known as the Black Codes and Jim Crow which would stay in effect until the Civil Rights legislation of the ‘60s.
White Primaries in which any nonwhite was prohibited from participating were established by the Democratic Party and state legislators after 1890. The last case ruling on the White Primaries was by the Supreme Court in 1944 with the Smith vs. Allwright case.
Black Americans were not permitted to attend the Democratic Party Conventions until 1924,
In response to the Brown vs Board of Education decision 99 members of congress signed the “Southern Manifesto” denouncing the decision, ninety-seven of the signers were Democrats, and two were Republicans.
Democratic Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus refused to admit Black students to Little Rock Central High School after the court decision of Brown vs Board of Education and Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock.
Democratic Alabama Governor George C. Wallace in his 1963 inaugural speech proclaimed “I say segregation now, segregationtomorrow, segregation forever.”
During Lyndon B. Johnson’s first 20 years in Congress “he opposed every civil rights measure that came up for a vote” said Barack Obama. LBJ is also credited with watering down Eisenhower’s 1957 Civil Rights Bill beyond recognition.
And again I say this is only a small snapshot of the intertwined history of Black Americans and the Democratic Party.
Is the Democratic Party racist? No, the Democratic Party is not racist. And yet I do acknowledge that there are racist Democrats just like there are racist Republicans and racist Libertarians within each political party.
Now that we have split our facts from fiction let us begin in honesty and truth a dialogue that will take our communities far and away from the status quo. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his last speech foretold of a “promised land” and I too believe that we as a people will get there.