Blacks mostly voted Republican from after the Civil War and through the early part of the 20th century. That’s not surprising when one considers that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president, and the white, segregationist politicians who governed Southern states in those days were Democrats. The Democratic Party didn’t welcome blacks then, and it wasn’t until 1924 that blacks were even permitted to attend Democratic conventions in any official capacity. Most blacks lived in the South, where they were mostly prevented from voting at all.
The election of Roosevelt in 1932 marked the beginning of a change. He got 71 percent of the black vote for president in 1936 and did nearly that well in the next two elections, according to historical figures kept by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. But even then, the number of blacks identifying themselves as Republicans was about the same as the number who thought of themselves as Democrats.
It wasn’t until Harry Truman garnered 77 percent of the black vote in 1948 that a majority of blacks reported that they thought of themselves as Democrats. Earlier that year Truman had issued an order desegregating the armed services and an executive order setting up regulations against racial bias in federal employment.
Even after that, Republican nominees continued to get a large slice of the black vote for several elections. Dwight D. Eisenhower got 39 percent in 1956, and Richard Nixon got 32 percent in his narrow loss to John F. Kennedy in 1960.
But then President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 (outlawing segregation in public places) and his eventual Republican opponent, Sen. Barry Goldwater, opposed it. Johnson got 94 percent of the black vote that year, still a record for any presidential election.
The following year Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act. No Republican presidential candidate has gotten more than 15 percent of the black vote since.
Footnote: Younger African American voters have been edging away from the Democratic Party in recent years. David Bositis of the Joint Center notes “a fairly long-term pattern of decreasing identification with the Democrats by younger African Americans.” Of course, it remains to be seen what the 2008 campaign will bring.
— Brooks Jackson
If you look back through American history and find a black American being enslaved, lynched, railroaded, or persecuted, 99 times out of a hundred, you’ll find a Democrat behind it. The hated and feared KKK? Throughout most of its history, it was little more than a hooded, thuggish arm of the Democratic Party.
But in the 1960s, when the Democrats’ overt racism became untenable, they switched to a strategy they’ve used all the way until the present day. Instead of persecuting black Americans because they thought they were inferior, they decided to “help” black Americans because they thought they were inferior. Unfortunately for black Americans, the “help” they get from the Democratic Party is almost always perversely damaging.
|All the First Blacks in Congress Were Republican|
Democrats cooked up the great society, welfare, food stamps, and all other manner of government goodies because they said they wanted to “help” people. What was the result of that “help?” The Democrats did something that they hadn’t managed to do when they enslaved black Americans, persecuted them with Jim Crow laws, or terrorized them with the Ku Klux Klan: they managed to nearly destroy the black family. According to Walter Williams,
“In 1940, the illegitimacy rate among blacks was 19 percent, in 1960, 22 percent, and today, it’s 70 percent. Some argue that the state of the black family is the result of the legacy of slavery, discrimination and poverty. That has to be nonsense. A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia shows that three-quarters of black families were nuclear families, comprised of two parents and children. In New York City in 1925, 85 percent of kin-related black households had two parents. In fact, according to Herbert Gutman in The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom: 1750-1925, “Five in six children under the age of 6 lived with both parents.”
The story is no different when it comes to education. Many black children are stuck in disastrous, failing schools. That’s why it’s no surprise that a majority of black Americans support school vouchers, just like the Republican Party. But, the Democratic Party, at the behest of the teachers’ unions, has worked ceaselessly to keep black children trapped in mediocre schools by killing voucher programs.
Robert Byrd on his biggest mistake (1993):
“Well, it’s easy to state what has been my biggest mistake. The greatest mistake I ever made was joining the Ku Klux Klan. And I’ve said that many times. But one cannot erase what he has done. He can only change his ways and his thoughts. That was an albatross around my neck that I will always wear. You will read it in my obituary that I was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”
Strom Thurmond on running as a segregationist Dixiecrat (1998):
“I don’t have anything to apologize for, I don’t have any regrets. The Dixiecrats were right.”