A friend sent me a link to a story on Talking Points Memo about a super PAC ad in Ohio that would be considered a parody if it were shown during “Saturday Night Live.” The 30-second spot from Empower Citizens Network makes a gasp-worthy claim that you have to see to believe.
I have a major revelation for black Americans. It is a big lie that Democrats are for black Americans and Republicans are against black Americans. Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves, was a Republican. Republicans founded the NAACP. Republicans passed the Civil Rights Act while Democrats opposed it. Blacks can gain success and prosperity by voting out Obama and the Democrats and voting in the Republicans.
I’ve watched this bit of malarkey more than a few times now. Each time, I expect Keegan-Michael Key or Jordan Peele, the hilarious comic duo of Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele” to make an appearance. It’s that laughably absurd.
Yes, Lincoln was a Republican who freed the slaves. Yes, Republicans founded the NAACP. But that’s because African Americans were Republican back then, in part out of gratitude and loyalty to the party of the man who freed them and their ancestors. But blacks got off the GOP bus after passage of the Civil Rights Act, thanks to the leadership of two Democrats, President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
The drive for civil rights got started in the 1950s and picked up steam in the 1960s with Kennedy and then Johnson. “We just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come,” Johnson remarked hours after signing the Civil Rights Act. He was right. But Johnson also delivered the African American vote to the Democratic Party for a long time to come.
My late grandmother was a Jehovah’s Witness in Severn, N.C. During summer vacation when I was a kid, I would go “witnessing” with her on the paved and dirt country roads in the towns nearby. The folks in some of the homes we visited were old, couldn’t read and didn’t have much. But every home had framed pictures of what I’ve called the “Black Trinity”: Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus Christ. Other homes would include Bobby Kennedy, who was the attorney general who acted on King’s calls for legal protection and other help during the marches, boycotts, sit-ins and other fights for equal rights. And they would include Johnson as the man who brought an end to Jim Crow.
When Republicans talk about Democrats being the party that opposed civil rights, they never acknowledge that those Democrats who were in opposition became Republicans. There’s a reason the ad narrator’s history lesson ends with the Civil Rights Act. The GOP hasn’t done anything that historic, that meaningful for black Americans since then.