- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 28, 2006

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry once said: “I heard a funny story that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. Well, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, and I can tell you he was not a Republican.”

Hizzoner’s comment came to mind last week when I heard about some controversial campaign ads sponsored recently by the National Black Republican Association. Aired in Ohio, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, they assert civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican.

The ads produced howls of outrage from Democrats and black leaders who said the “Republican” claim “crossed a line.” They didn’t say what line, but Rep. John Lewis, Georgia Democrat, denounced the ad as an “insult to the legacy and the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. [and] an affront to all that he stood for.”

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The Rev. Joseph Lowery, former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said: “To suggest that Martin could identify with a party that affirms pre-emptive, predatory war, and whose religious partners hint that God affirms war and favors the rich at the expense of the poor, is to revile Martin.”

NBRA Chair Frances Rice, who sponsored the ads, stands by them entirely. She says Dr. King “absolutely was a Republican. We all were in those days. The Democrats were training fire hoses on us, siccing dogs on us.”

Most schoolchildren know Lincoln and the Republicans freed the slaves. But I doubt if students are much taught, nowadays, that Democrats were the party of the Confederacy, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow laws, segregated water fountains, school-segregation, poll taxes, voter-literacy tests and Sheriff Bull Connor. (How many under-40 voters know this?) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice grew up in Birmingham, Ala., in the Jim Crow era. She affirms that only Republicans would let black people vote.

Democrats like to recall that after presidential candidate John F. Kennedy helped get King released from jail, Dr. King endorsed Kennedy and blacks went Democratic. But Kennedy did not approve of the great march on Washington in August 1963. Southern Democratic senators (including Al Gore Sr., Robert Byrd and Sam Ervin) filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights bill for 83 days before Republicans shamed Democrats into breaking the filibuster and passing the law.

The controversial NBRA ads grew out of Miss Rice’s Aug. 16 article, “Why Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican,” outlining Democrats’ and Republicans’ true history with blacks. Her unvarnished truth puts Democrats in a bad light and depicts Republicans as far more helpful than they usually get credit for. The mainstream media mostly ignored the piece, but the NBRA ads upset Democrats’ attempts to obscure inconvenient history.

Miss Rice shows Republicans have championed freedom and civil rights for blacks since 1854, while Democrats have been the party of “slavery, secession, segregation, socialism.” Democrats fought civil rights legislation implacably from the 1860s through the 1960s. Democratic President Wilson segregated the federal civil service in 1913. Harry Truman signed a 1948 executive order to desegregate the military, but Republican President Eisenhower actually completed the job.

Dr. King was fighting Democrats who stood in schoolhouse doors and kept blacks from voting. Dwight Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren to the Supreme Court, signed the Civil Rights Bill of 1957, and sent troops to desegregate Arkansas schools. The Warren Court produced the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that desegregated all American schools.

Retrospectively transformed into a great friend of black civil rights, Kennedy actually voted against 1957 Civil Rights legislation as a senator, and as president opposed the 1963 march on Washington. His attorney general, Robert Kennedy, had King wiretapped and investigated on suspicion of being a communist.

Frances Rice notes some seldom-recalled historical details about Republicans’ involvement with black civil rights:

• Following the Civil War, Republicans amended the Constitution to grant blacks freedom (13th Amendment), citizenship (14th), and the right to vote (15th).

• Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Reconstruction Act of 1867 — the latter designed to enfranchise blacks in the Democrat-controlled South.

• Black Republicans started the NAACP in 1909.

• Republicans founded most of today’s black colleges and universities.

• President Richard Nixon’s 1969 Philadelphia Plan — designed by (black) Republican Art Fletcher — established the nation’s first “affirmative action” goals and timetables to help reverse President Wilson’s 1913 action.

• Sen. Everett Dirksen, Illinois Republican and key enabler of civil rights legislation in 1957, ‘60, ‘64 and ‘65, wrote language for the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the 1968 Civil Rights Act.

Conveniently ignored facts about Democrats include:

• Racist “Dixiecrats” who are still Democrats include Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia and onetime Keagle in the Ku Klux Klan, and former Sen. Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, who as governor flew the Confederate flag over the South Carolina state capitol.

• Democrats oppose school choice opportunity scholarships that would help black children escape failing schools and have a chance at a viable educational future.

• Democrats oppose Social Security reform, though the current system disadvantages blacks, whose life-expectancy is five years shorter than whites’ (72.2 vs. 77.5 years).

Frances Rice says Democrats want to keep blacks poor, angry, and voting for their socialist agenda. She concludes with this powerful delineation:

“Democrat Party policies of socialism and dependency on government handouts offer the pathway to poverty, while Republican Party principles of hard work, personal responsibility, a good education and ownership of homes and small businesses offer the pathway to prosperity.”

Black “leaders” like Marion Barry, Joseph Lowery and John Lewis hope the mainstream media will help them revise history and keep black people ignorant and Democratic, but the charade can’t last much longer.

As the scales finally fall from their eyes, many black voters will turn toward the true party of opportunity. The party of “slavery, secession, segregation and socialism” will be reduced to a radical-left splinter. And “Free at Last” will take on a joyous new meaning.


Author of a weekly column, “At Large,” in the Atlantic Highlands Herald, an Internet newspaper.

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