It seems that both Reps and Dems are targeting the Hispanic vote, especially in Texas. The past has taught me that this kind of attention comes with strings and neglected promises. African Americans have experienced let downs by Democrats and Republicans alike when it comes to candidates coming to our communities and pledging to represent us. Some great examples can be found in Randall Kennedy’s book “Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word” which traces the use of the epithet and notes its use by Presidents Truman, Johnson and Nixon. There have been ups and downs, but in the end allegiance to one party is not the key to any race’s advancement in America.
It should come as no surprise that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. In that era, almost all black Americans were Republicans. Why? From its founding in 1854 as the anti-slavery party until today, the Republican Party has championed freedom and civil rights for blacks. And as one pundit so succinctly stated, the Democrat Party is as it always has been, the party of the four S’s: Slavery, Secession, Segregation and now Socialism.
Because of recent scandals involving Strom Thurmond, people are familar with the term Dixiecrats. There is more than enough evidence that there were Democrats who fought against the movement of African Americans having equal civil rights and civil liberties. This is quite clear.
When it comes to Republicans, I thank their forefathers for their role in the emancipation of my ancestors, however their hands are dirty as well. In the year 2008, the Republican party is far from “preferred” status in the African American community. The Regan Years had a lot to do with that. Who can forget the Jesse Helms “White Hands” ad that focused on racial quotas.
One should also note the “Southern Strategy” used by Richard Nixon.
Although the phrase “Southern strategy” is often attributed to Richard Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips, he did not originate it, but merely popularized it. In an interview included in a 1970 New York Times article, he touched on its essence:
From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that… but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.”
Bottomline: no party has a history without racism. One cannot assume that they are in support of the party for Blacks, for Asians, or for Hispanics. Most parties have operated in favor of the majority of persons they represent. Political action, Voting rights, and a galvanized community is what brought Civil Rights to African Americans…not a political party. There’s nothing wrong with idenifying with a party, history shows that minorities should not put their eggs in one basket.
Don’t be a pawn for any party! If you give your support, be ready to monitor and hold the parties responsible to upholding the claims and promises they make. If they don’t, don’t support them with your power.