Civil Rights: A Look At The History Of The Republican Party

History of Republican Party

If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. -Malcolm X

Are Republicans racist? With Donald Trump as the face of the Republican party, is there any doubt? The party is without scruples and void of integrity. Their supporters believe white people are superior yet somehow are being persecuted and people of color are to blame.

This racist ideology was not always the case. Both the party makeup and its ideology changed over time. Did you know in the 19th century, the Republican party had little to no support in the South? Or that most black people voted Republicans? A reason we should not get bogged down in semantics, as yesterday’s Democrats are today’s Republicans.

The Republican Party was not always the racist party or the party of the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis. The party was founded in 1854 by abolitionists. Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican US President,1861-1865, and is best known for the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order issued on January 1, 1863, freeing slaves. Let’s be clear, the Republican party was not against slavery because they championed social justice or felt slavery morally wrong; no the party’s motives were economic and political. The South had seceded, and Lincoln and company wanted to remove their economic advantage of cheap labor. Further, the Republicans wanted the black vote.

In 1793, over a half-century before the Republican Party, the Democratic Party was founded in the South by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. From the beginning, the Democrats distrusted big government and supported slavery. The first Ku Klux Klan members were Democrats. The Democratic Party was the face of the solid south. The concepts of “state rights” and “traditional” values were code words in support of white supremacy and structural racism.

Following the Civil Rights War and Reconstruction, the South returned to its old ways of exploiting black bodies. By pushing for State rights, the south was able to change the packaging on slavery by creating ‘Jim Crow laws.’ These laws employed structural racism to ensure black people remained at the bottom, serving the needs of white people and working essentially for free. The strategy was ‘Separate but Equal.’ Everyone knew ‘Equal’ was not true. Jim Crow was the law of the South after Reconstruction up until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In 1948, the southern democrats separated from the Democratic party and became known as the Dixiecrats. The Dixiecrats wanted states rights to continue enforcing Jim Crow laws without federal interference.

President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat from Texas, signed The Civil Rights Act of 1964.  His support of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 led the solid south of southern states within the democratic party to vote for Barry Goldwater, Johnson’s Republican opponent. The Republican party switched ideological hats.

In 1968, the Republicans came up with the Southern Strategy, a strategy to woo southern white voters with dog whistle politics.  It emphasized “state rights” and embedded structural racism in laws and policies.  An example was Nixon/Reagan’s war on drugs when enforcement targeted pot users and not cocaine users.

The Southern Strategy worked. The Dixiecrats led by Strom Thurmond officially left the Democratic Party in 1964 and joined the Republican Party. The southern Democrats changed affiliation and joined the Republican party.

Today the Republican party is represented by Trump, who while popular among racists at home and abroad, has come to symbolize racism, lack of integrity, lies, inhumanity, and cruelty.

Does this Republican Party represent American ideals?

If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. -Malcolm X

Source of images:  Pinterest


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

9 thoughts on “Civil Rights: A Look At The History Of The Republican Party

  1. Supports my statement: There is no political ideology. It’s all about opportunism. In Holland they say: Zo de wind waait, waait mijn jasje/rokje. And in Zimbabwe: Kwamairidigikira ndiko kwomoringa benya; kwamairinga benya ndiko kwomoridigikira.

  2. There is no different between R&D so far as so-called black people are concerned! Our condition has never truly changed for the better no matter what party is in office. This whole country is imploding, things are only going to get worse. We need to repent and pray to our Heavenly Father as his rightful people. We were the farmers, carpenters, inventors,seamstress etc. stop being consumers and be builders in our communities!

    1. “We were the farmers, carpenters, inventors,seamstress etc. stop being consumers and be builders in our communities! Amen! What happened to us?

      Rudy, I believe too many black people are still asleep and uneducated. When things goes wrong they wait for outside help instead of creating ways to help themselves and others like them.

  3. I copied and pasted this comment here because it’s about Strom Thurmond:

    Str0m Thurmond was a WS/KKK type, the longest-serving member of the Senate who raped a 15-16-year-old black girl. I’m not sure how many times or how many others.

    He was a womanizer, known to fondle women. A child was born from that violent act of rape, Essie Mae Washington-Williams who lived for 87 years. He secretly paid for his biracial daughter’s education to traditionally black schools while he continued to put forth and support Jim Crow laws. He is dead. At 78 years old Essie Mae was legally recognized as one of his children. I wonder why didn’t she or her mother never pointed out his hypocrisy as many white women would have. I wonder why black women and black men didn’t come forth to speak of the rapes and crimes inflicted on them by white men and women similar to what happened to Bill Cosby?

    During his heyday, I remember him as the face of Jim Crow- white supremacy, racism, and the KKK. When I googled him his WS ideology or KKK sympathies were downplayed, he was portrayed as a “progressive” senator. One is made to believe he championed southern black causes when he was an ardent supporter of Jim Crow laws.

    How can one really know the truth when it is disappearing from our archives and being replaced with myths?

  4. Sorry for the delay in commenting, but I liked the article. I’m glad that you connected various parts of history while also taking into the Southern Strategy and brining the implications that both parties are in on a cruel political joke.

    1. Thank you for your comments. Right now we see the political joke on display, the parties play good cop bad cop while both deceive the American public.

  5. I liked your post. I’ve noticed lately that the right has been trying to debunk the existence of the Southern Strategy, despite it being well-documented that the Republican strategist that came up with it named it himself. For decades I thought it was an academic term used to describe the GOP shift toward blatant dog whistling. Nope.

    Sadly, I have discovered that a lot of people slept through their history classes. That “Republicans are the party of Lincoln” and “Democrats are the party of slavery” line is proving to be far more effective than I expected. I naively thought most people understood why those statements are false for anyone lacking access to a time machine. Good job writing an informative piece that acknowledges historical truth, yet still exposes the failure of this argument when applied to the 21st century.

    As an aside, I understand why people might be fed up with both parties, but hear me out. The Democrats have their flaws, but the alternative actively wants to harm anyone that isn’t a white, retired male living in the rural Midwest. Not telling anyone what to do, but that’s just my 2 cents.

    1. I understand your “2 cents.” I am tired of selecting candidates out of fear of the opposing candidate or party. I’d like to choose a candidate whose platform I embrace. Unfortunately, Trump made the mid-term election a battle between the Democrats and Republicans. I agree they cannot win.

      But I want to see Democrats address issues relevant to black communities and I don’t mean Medicaid or school lunches. Mass Incarceration and racial profiling are devastating families of color. Available data demonstrate bias in the criminal justice system and law enforcement. Why don’t Democrats be bold? Run on a platform that protects people of color, penalize cops who use excessive force and promote equal justice for all.

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