Blacks have always been republicans. We forget that from the time of Lincoln up to FDR 90% of blacks were republicans; Oh how soon we forget. Today however, if you ask the average black person republican or democrat? You will get a resounding, “I’m a democrat!”
The black community has always gone with the party who was perceived to have their best interest at heart. When President Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation freeing millions of blacks held in bondage, blacks flocked to the republican party like lemmings.
Blacks were devout members of the republican party until Franklin D. Roosevelt offered more hope to millions of Black-Americans looking for a better life and more inclusion in the American dream. During reconstruction (1865-1877) Black America enjoyed a brief respite from the brutal reality of a life in bondage as slaves.
During this period over 1500 Black Americans held elected office though out the south. There were black senators, representatives and judges! When the democrats betrayed newly freed blacks with the “Southern Compromise” all the hope offered during reconstruction came crashing down.
After the ending of reconstruction life for black Americans became a total nightmare. The Ku Klux Klan was running at full throttle and suppressed any possibility of black social change or advancement. Black codes became very draconian and Jim Crow was in full force.
The black community throughout the south would not have any relief from this brutal oppression until the civil rights movement of the 1960′s. Curiously, at the height of the civil rights movement, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As he said famously, with a stroke of a pen, I’m handing the south over to the republican party. As history shows, that was exactly the case. The south as has been solidly republican ever since.
At the same time Black American’s in droves converted to the Democratic Party. Fast forward to the present, we have a black president who is a democrat (Barack Obama) and the recent former head of the RNC, Michael Steele a black man. Ironically, Mr. Steele loses his bid for re-election as the head of the RNC due to mismanagement and a host of other issues. Given the Republicans had their best mid-term election since 1938 under the leadership of Michael Steele you would think he would not get ousted!
The Black Community is taking the rejection of Michael Steele by the republicans as their cue that the Republican party isn’t too chummy with black folks. He served his purpose now it’s on to business as usual. Ironically, black Americans have more in common with Republicans than they do with Democrats.
Black Americans are very religious, social conservatives and anti-abortion. Republicans miss the mark with their perceived anti-black posturing. Ironically, Mr. Steele was out on the stump trying to recruit more blacks to the republican party. He even had an event in Harlem recruiting blacks to the party, yes, I said Harlem. I applaud his efforts. How he managed to keep a straight face will trying to convince black folks to come and join the GOP, I’ll never know.
The Tea party for example show’s no love what so ever to the black community and is perceived as openly hostile to the black community. The over the top negativity leveled against President Obama is not taken lightly by the black community and other progressive groups in the country.
Unless you’re living under a rock, racism is still very much a part of American life. We have yet to reconcile with the “peculiar institution” of slavery much less treat the first black president with civility.
The mid-term elections of this past November was a wake up call for all of us, including President Obama, who exclaimed that the democrats took a “shillacking.” It seems that the president heard the message loud and clear. Ever since the terrible tragedy in Tucson, President Obama has seemed to have recaptured his mojo and his approval ratings in the polls seem to reflect that.
The future of the Republican party is in their hands. Unless they overtly become more inclusive they will have no chance what so ever of swaying more blacks to the “big tent.” Boy could we use Jack Kemp right about now. Jack Kemp was the reason this writer initially became a republican.
Jack Kemp was close friends to a prominent black pastor in Los Angeles by the name of E.V. Hill (deceased). He was also an unapologetic Republican. Any time Sen. Jack Kemp was in Los Angeles he attended Rev Hills church and visited with him socially.
That type of compassionate conservatism seems to be DOA on the political scene today. If the Republican party were smart, they might try and revisit that ideal. It worked for the first President Bush. The Republicans seem to have lost their way. Hopefully, with a little forethought and vision they can recapture the magic of Lincoln and compassionate conservatives like Jack Kemp.
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