Talking Point: Republicans were the real champions of civil rights

Claim:  Conservatives and Republicans claim that they were the party who championed civil rights.

Rank: MisleadingA common talking point that is occasionally used by pundits, bloggers, and commentators on social media sites was that the Republicans were the real champions of civil rights.  Often, this talking point is used to defend present day Republicans from accusations of racism or to paint present day Democrats as the true racists.

The following is an example of this claim.

Our nation’s top historians reveal that the Democratic Party gave us the Ku Klux Klan, Black Codes, Jim Crow Laws and other repressive legislation which resulted in the multitude of murders, lynchings, mutilations, and intimidations (of thousands of black and white Republicans). On the issue of slavery: historians say the Democrats gave their lives to expand it, the Republicans gave their lives to ban it.

The Democrats:
Democrats fought to expand slavery while Republicans fought to end it.
Democrats passed those discriminatory Black Codes and Jim Crow laws.
Democrats supported and passed the Missouri Compromise to protect slavery.
Democrats supported and passed the Kansas Nebraska Act to expand slavery.
Democrats supported and backed the Dred Scott Decision.
Democrats opposed educating blacks and murdered our teachers.
Democrats fought against anti-lynching laws.
Democrat Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, is well-known for having been a “Kleagle” in the Ku Klux Klan.
Democrat Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, personally filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for 14 straight hours to keep it from passage.
Democrats passed the Repeal Act of 1894 that overturned civil right laws enacted by Republicans.
Democrats declared that they would rather vote for a “yellow dog” than vote for a Republican, because the Republican Party was known as the party for blacks.
Democrat President Woodrow Wilson, reintroduced segregation throughout the federal government immediately upon taking office in 1913.
Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first appointment to the Supreme Court was a life member of the Ku Klux Klan, Sen. Hugo Black, Democrat of Alabama.
Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s choice for vice president in 1944 was Harry Truman, who had joined the Ku Klux Klan in Kansas City in 1922.
Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt resisted Republican efforts to pass a federal law against lynching.
Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt opposed integration of the armed forces.
Democrat Senators Sam Ervin, Albert Gore, Sr. and Robert Byrd were the chief opponents of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Democrats supported and backed Judge John Ferguson in the case of Plessy v Ferguson.
Democrats supported the School Board of Topeka Kansas in the case of Brown v The Board of Education of Topeka Kansas.
Democrat public safety commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor, in Birmingham, Ala., unleashed vicious dogs and turned fire hoses on black civil rights demonstrators.
Democrats were who Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the other protesters were fighting.
Democrat Georgia Governor Lester Maddox “brandished an ax hammer to prevent blacks from patronizing his restaurant.
Democrat Governor George Wallace stood in front of the Alabama schoolhouse in 1963, declaring there would be segregation forever.
Democrat Arkansas Governor Faubus tried to prevent desegregation of Little Rock public schools.
Democrat Senator John F. Kennedy voted against the 1957 Civil rights Act.
Democrat President John F. Kennedy opposed the 1963 March on Washington by Dr. King.
Democrat President John F. Kennedy, had Dr. King wiretapped and investigated by the FBI.
Democrat President Bill Clinton’s mentor was U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, an Arkansas Democrat and a supporter of racial segregation.
Democrat President Bill Clinton interned for J. William Fulbright in 1966-67.
Democrat Senator J. William Fulbright signed the Southern Manifesto opposing the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision.
Democrat Senator J. William Fulbright joined with the Dixiecrats in filibustering the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964.
Democrat Senator J. William Fulbright voted against the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Southern Democrats opposed desegregation and integration.
Democrats opposed:

The Emancipation Proclamation
The 13th Amendment
The 14th Amendment
The 15th Amendment
The Reconstruction Act of 1867
The Civil Rights of 1866
The Enforcement Act of 1870
The Forced Act of 1871
The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871
The Civil Rights Act of 1875
The Freeman Bureau
The Civil Rights Act of 1957
The Civil Rights Act of 1960
The United State Civil Rights Commission
Republicans gave strong bi-partisan support and sponsorship for the following legislation:

The Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Voting Rights Act of 1965
The 1968 Civil Rights Acts
The Equal Opportunity Act of 1972
Goals and Timetables for Affirmative Action Programs
Comprehensive Employment Training Act of 1973
Voting Rights Act of Amendment of 1982
Civil Rights Act of 1983
Federal Contract Compliance and Workforce Development Act of 1988
The Republicans:
Republicans enacted civil rights laws in the 1950’s and 1960’s, over the objection of Democrats.
Republicans founded the HBCU’s (Historical Black College’s and Universities) and started the NAACP to counter the racist practices of the Democrats.
Republicans pushed through much of the ground-breaking civil rights legislation in Congress.
Republicans fought slavery and amended the Constitution to grant blacks freedom, citizenship and the right to vote.
Republicans pushed through much of the groundbreaking civil rights legislation from the 1860s through the 1960s.
Republican President Dwight Eisenhower sent troops into the South to desegregate the schools.
Republican President Eisenhower appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren to the Supreme Court, which resulted in the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision.
Republican Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois, not Democrat President Lyndon Johnson, was the one who pushed through the civil rights laws of the 1960’s.
Republican Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois wrote the language for the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Republican Senator Everett Dirksen from Illinois also crafted the language for the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which prohibited discrimination in housing.
Republican and black American, A. Phillip Randolph, organized the 1963 March by Dr. King on Washington.
The 1964 Civil Rights Act Roll Call Vote: In the House, only 64 percent of the Democrats (153 yes, 91 no), but 80 percent of the Republicans (136 yes, 35 no), voted for it. In the Senate, while only 68 percent of the Democrats endorsed the bill (46 yes, 21 no), 82 percent of the Republicans voted to enact it (27 yes, 6 no).

Thaddeus Stevens, a Radical Republican that introduced legislation to give African-Americans the so-called 40 acres and a mule and Democrats overwhelmingly voted against the bill.

During the Senate debates on the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, it was revealed that members of the Democratic Party formed many terrorist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan to murder and intimidate African-Americans voters. The Ku Klux Klan Act was a bill introduced by a Republican Congress to stop Klan Activities.

History reveals that Democrats lynched, burned, mutilated and murdered thousands of blacks and completely destroyed entire towns and communities occupied by middle class Blacks, including Rosewood, Florida, the Greenwood District in Tulsa Oklahoma, and Wilmington, North Carolina to name a few.

History reveals that it was Abolitionists and Radical Republicans such as Henry L. Morehouse and General Oliver Howard that started many of the traditional Black colleges, while Democrats fought to keep them closed. Many of our traditional Black colleges are named after white Republicans.

After exclusively giving the Democrats their votes for the past 25 years, the average African-American cannot point to one piece of civil rights legislation sponsored solely by the Democratic Party that was specifically designed to eradicate the unique problems that African-Americans face today. As of 2004, the Democrat Party (the oldest political party in America) has never elected a black man to the United States Senate, the Republicans have elected three.

The history behind these claims are accurate.  Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, is credited with the ending of slavery.  In the deep south, where racism and segregation was widely practiced, the local governments were almost entirely controlled by the Democratic party.  Members of the KKK were almost always Democrats.  It was the Democratic party that fought the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was introduced by Republicans.

While the history is correct, these claims attempt to paint present day Republicans and Democrats with their actions of the past.  There is part of history that these claims ignore.  In the mid 60’s and early 70’s, there was a significant demographic shift.  Many southern Democrats shifted to the Republican party and the newly enfranchised blacks shifted to the Democratic party.  The reasons for these shifts are a matter of debate however, the point is that present day Republican and Democratic parties are not the same parties of 50 years ago.

It is true that the Republicans of the past were champions of civil rights and the history is correct.  On the other hand, these claims often leave out significant details about that history.  For this reason, these claims tend to be misleading.

References

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