Many on the left claim that voting integrity measures, such as voter ID, are throwbacks to the Jim Crow era. Since Jim Crow laws were enacted by Southern Democrats to force racial segregation and block economic and political power among Black Americans, Democrats should know their current claims are preposterous. As the old saying goes, “they have a lot of nerve.”
Perhaps it is gall, or hypocrisy, or perhaps it is more sinister. To grab more political power, they are willing to use Black citizens as pawns and obfuscate the sordid history of their party — a history of Jim Crow laws and Black Codes.
Black Codes were laws passed by Southern Democrats after the Civil War that restricted worship, gun ownership and other freedoms among newly freed slaves. They were enforced with fines, arrest, intimidation, violence and murder by public officials and by the Democrats’ unofficial army — the Ku Klux Klan.
As the Klan enforced Black Codes and blocked Black Americans from voting, it was futile to fight back. Democrats ran the government and they made sure that Black citizens could not own firearms. Some planned to completely eradicate Blacks from the South … by murder or forced migration.
What could drive such evil? Yes, it was hatred and racism. But ultimately it was power. Republicans led in freeing the slaves. Freed slaves would vote Republican. Democrats have always had a problem with Black Republicans … like civil rights icon Clarence Henderson.
In 1960, 18-year-old Clarence Henderson was arrested for sitting down at the Woolworth lunch counter to protest racial segregation. Last week, along with 20 other Black American leaders, he signed a letter urging U.S. senators to de-escalate the inflamed rhetoric that has equated important voting integrity measures, such as voter identification, with Jim Crow laws.
In the 1960s, there was also a young girl whose family home was bombed because her father and uncle were civil rights leaders. She was later jailed during the open housing movement. Her father was Rev. A.D. King. and her uncle was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Evangelist and civil rights leader Dr. Alveda King also signed that letter rejecting the provisions in legislation (H.R. 1 /S. 1) that would strip election integrity measures in the states and give more power to Washington.
The signers appealed to the senators:
“The fight to ensure every American’s right to vote has been a long and costly battle dating back long before any of us were born. The policy differences of today pale in comparison to what was overcome by the noble generations that preceded us. To compare today’s policy differences with the literal life and death struggle of previous generations is to diminish those heroes’ struggle, sacrifice, and enormous accomplishments. It is past time for today’s generation to come together in an honest, civil, and straightforward way to protect these shared values of voter access and election integrity. It should be easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
Every one of us who signed the letter has a story to tell. I signed as the former ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. And as the former secretary of State of Ohio, I can assure the senators that voting integrity is not vote suppression. There are not black ballots and white ballots. Ballots are ballots. And they all need to be protected.
Another signer, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, the first Black lieutenant governor of North Carolina, testified before the House Judiciary Committee last week saying, “the notion that black people must be protected from a free ID to secure their vote is not just insane — it is insulting.” He attacked Democrat-sponsored HR1/S1 as a power grab to maintain one party rule and reminded the committee of the importance of the Second Amendment in securing safety and freedom.
A recent Rasmussen poll shows that 69% of Black voters in America support the key provision in election integrity laws in states like Georgia — the simple and commonsense requirement that people show identification to cast a vote. It is time for Democrats to stop pretending that their federal power grab is on behalf of Black Americans.
In the words of Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, “ … the goal of some individuals in government is not to hear the voices of Black Americans at all; it is to hear the voices that fit their narratives and ultimately help keep power with one group. And that is what this is all about — it is about power. Just look at HR 1. It is despicable. The entire thing is designed to keep one party in power and make sure they stay there indefinitely.”
White elites in the party of Jim Crow and Black Codes must stop using Black Americans as pawns in their scheme for permanent domination. Black Americans, like all Americans, want secure elections and freedom.
• J. Kenneth Blackwell is the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. He is a board member of the American Constitutional Rights Union Action Fund and a Distinguished Fellow at the Family Research Council.