In the last post, we saw how Democratic Party national unity, which was occasionally tenuous, depended on Northerners’ willingness to look the other way on Jim Crow segregation. But in 1946, Harry S. Truman
became the first Democratic President to look it squarely in the eyes.
That was the year Truman appointed a commission on civil rights. In 1947, it issued a report entitled To Secure These Rights, which condemned segregation, particularly in the armed forces. Truman followed up with an executive order desegregating the military in early 1948. Even though the move did not directly affect the South, such a challenge to the legitimacy of segregation was too much for many Southern Democrats to stomach.
Truman faced a revolt within his own party as he ran for re-election during 1948. The Solid South fractured. South Carolina Democrat Strom Thurmond formed a third party, popularly known as the Dixiecrats, and ran against Truman on a single-issue platform of segregation. “All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches, and our places of recreation,” he roared
Thurmond to stole nearly 40 Southern electoral votes, though Truman still managed to hold on against Republican challenger Thomas Dewey. But the lesson had been learned, and Democrats would make few moves against segregation for nearly twenty years. When the Civil Rights Movement finally forced Democratic President John F. Kennedy to take action, he did so slowly and cautiously.
Ironically, it would be his successor, Lyndon Johnson of Texas, who helped strike the coup de grace against Jim Crow. Continue reading The Solid South, Part III: Decline and Re-Emergence
For quite some time now, Texas Governor and would be Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry’s
family has been in possession of a central Texas property named Niggerhead
. Or at least, that’s the name that was painted in black block letters on a rock at the property’s entrance gate.
The Washington Post broke the story a few days ago. And While Perry maintains that he notified his parents after first seeing the rock in either 1983 or 1984, and that they had painted it over by the next time he saw it, the article disputes this timeline. The Post interviewed over two dozen people, at least seven of whom say they continued to see the Niggerhead rock through the decade and into the 1990s, even as Rick Perry was an up and coming state official and politician, bringing friends and associates to the property for hunting trips.
The field of politicians vying for a major party presidential nomination almost never includes black candidates, Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson being the most notable Democratic exceptions. Since Colin Powell passed up the opportunity in 2000, the Republicans Party still has yet to find a serious black presidential hopeful. For the upcoming election, however, they do have a minor black politician in the fray: Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.
If not for Cain, the GOP establishment could safely and unanimously rally around Perry’s assertion that he immediately objected to the Niggerhead rock and was the catalyst in having it quickly painted over, despite the fact that this version of events seems to be a lie. Continue reading On Herman Cain on Niggerhead
The Public Professor is pleased to present Professor Omar Ali, the first in a series of occasional guest bloggers.
President Barack Obama says that the U.S. Senate rules which quire sixty votes to end filibustering are not only extra-Constitutional but, more importantly stifle the flow of necessary legislation based, more often that not, on partisan interests. He wants to see these rules changed for the sake of better governance on behalf of the American people. I couldn’t agree more. But the Senate rules are only one aspect of our bipartisan government that consistently places partisan interests over those of “the people.”
Turns out, parties aren’t in the Constitution either. Yet, the two major parties have taken over our government. How? Those who make the rules, rule.
Through self-serving rules and regulations, the two major parties remain in power. Democratic and Republican legislators systematically exclude tens of millions of unaffiliated and independent voters from the electoral process — that is, the 42 percent of the total electorate who identify themselves as neither Democrat nor Republican and are, because of their independence, rendered second-class citizens in the law. In this way, a kind of Jim Crow (historically, the legal disfranchisement of African Americans) persists — now no longer based on race, but on political affiliation. Continue reading The Jim Crow of Bipartisan Rule