The wife of the "first black president", Hillary Clinton said, "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done." Her opponent for the Democrat Party presidential nomination, Barack Obama, the "not black enough" Black American, said he thought Clinton's comments ill-advised, unfortunate, and diminished the accomplishments of Martin Luther King.
They both got it wrong, or at best partially right. Mrs. Clinton left out most of the truth and Mr. Obama doesn't know enough about the Civil Rights Movement to respond factually.
In Washington, D.C., it was southern white Democrats who stood in the way of civil rights legislation. Had it not been for the GOP, LBJ could not possibly have got the Civil Rights Act passed. The popular support that Martin Luther King, a Republican, was able to organize was the absolute key to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He and his supporters were harassed, arrested, surveilled, beaten, shot, and killed. King himself was in jail many times. He was ultimately assassinated for his beliefs, teachings, and leadership.
(Can you spot the Republican in the photo?
Hint: the Democrats are wearing uniforms.)
Only 61% of Democrats in the House supported the measure, while 80% of Republicans did. In the Senate, 82% of Republicans voted in favor vs. only 69% of Democrats. Just six GOP senators voted against the act, compared with 21 Democrats.Throughout the Civil Rights Movement, it was southern white Democrats who beat the Negroes (as they were then known), released attack dogs on the crowds, and held the fire hoses. It was southern white Democrats who raped black women and little girls; it was southern white Democrats who murdered little black boys and lynched black men. It was southern white Democrats who threw bombs into black churches setting them on fire and shooting the survivors as they staggered out. It was southern white Democrats who killed northern voting rights workers and buried them in earthen dams. It was southern white Democrats who blocked the entrances of schools, lunch counters, theaters, and forced blacks to the back of the bus.
Democrat Robert Byrd of West Virginia, former "Grand Kleagle" with the Ku Klux Klan and the only senator to have opposed the only two black nominees to the Supreme Court, led a 52-day filibuster against this legislation.
Democratic Sen. Al Gore, father of the former vice president, voted against the act, as did Democratic Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. Also opposed were Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, Richard Russell of Georgia and, of course, Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who was a Democrat at the time.
William Jefferson Clinton, as governor of Arkansas, was once sued by the local NAACP for failing to enforce the Voting Rights Act, and issued a proclamation for Confederate Day in Arkansas.
In 2002, Bill Clinton traveled to Fayetteville, Ark., to honor the life of Sen. Fulbright by dedicating a seven-foot-tall bronze statue of the man. In 1956, Fulbright was one of 19 senators who issued a statement entitled the "Southern Manifesto." This document condemned the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
It was Democrats, from the end of the Civil War in 1865 to the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, who kept Black Americans in less than second class status and kept them from the vote for nearly one hundred years. It was Blacks who won their own freedom. It was Republicans who put up legal barriers to bar Democrats from re-establishing their American apartheid.
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and my own experience of living through the period of the Civil Rights Movement.
The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.