It should come as no surprise that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Republican. In that era, almost all black Americans were Republicans. Why? From its founding in 1854 as the anti-slavery party until today, the Republican Party has championed freedom and civil rights for blacks. And as one pundit so succinctly stated, the Democrat Party is as it always has been, the party of the four S’s: slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism.
It was the Democrats who fought to keep blacks in slavery and passed the discriminatory Black Codes and Jim Crow laws. The Democrats started the Ku Klux Klan to lynch and terrorize blacks. The Democrats fought to prevent the passage of every civil rights law beginning with the civil rights laws of the 1860s, and continuing with the civil rights laws of the 1950s and 1960s.
During the civil rights era of the 1960s, Dr. King was fighting the Democrats who stood in the school house doors, turned skin-burning fire hoses on blacks and let loose vicious dogs. It was Republican President Dwight Eisenhower who pushed to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and sent troops to Arkansas to desegregate schools. President Eisenhower also appointed Chief Justice Earl Warren to the U.S. Supreme Court, which resulted in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision ending school segregation. Much is made of Democrat President Harry Truman’s issuing an Executive Order in 1948 to desegregate the military. Not mentioned is the fact that it was Eisenhower who actually took action to effectively end segregation in the military.
Democrat President John F. Kennedy is lauded as a proponent of civil rights. However, Kennedy voted against the 1957 Civil Rights Act while he was a senator, as did Democrat Sen. Al Gore Sr. And after he became President, Kennedy was opposed to the 1963 March on Washington by Dr. King that was organized by A. Phillip Randolph, who was a black Republican. President Kennedy, through his brother Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, had Dr. King wiretapped and investigated by the FBI on suspicion of being a Communist in order to undermine Dr. King.
In March of 1968, while referring to Dr. King’s leaving Memphis, Tenn., after riots broke out where a teenager was killed, Democrat Sen. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, called Dr. King a “trouble-maker” who starts trouble, but runs like a coward after trouble is ignited. A few weeks later, Dr. King returned to Memphis and was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Given the circumstances of that era, it is understandable why Dr. King was a Republican. It was the Republicans who fought to free blacks from slavery and amended the Constitution to grant blacks freedom (13th Amendment), citizenship (14th Amendment) and the right to vote (15th Amendment). Republicans passed the civil rights laws of the 1860s, including the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Reconstruction Act of 1867 that was designed to establish a new government system in the Democrat-controlled South, one that was fair to blacks. Republicans also started the NAACP and affirmative action with Republican President Richard Nixon’s 1969 Philadelphia Plan (crafted by black Republican Art Fletcher) that set the nation’s fist goals and timetables. Although affirmative action now has been turned by the Democrats into an unfair quota system, affirmative action was begun by Nixon to counter the harm caused to blacks when Democrat President Woodrow Wilson in 1912 kicked all of the blacks out of federal government jobs.
Few black Americans know that it was Republicans who founded the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Unknown also is the fact that Republican Sen. Everett Dirksen from Illinois was key to the passage of civil rights legislation in 1957, 1960, 1964 and 1965. Not mentioned in recent media stories about extension of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is the fact that Dirksen wrote the language for the bill. Dirksen also crafted the language for the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which prohibited discrimination in housing. President Lyndon Johnson could not have achieved passage of civil rights legislation without the support of Republicans.
Critics of Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater, who ran for President against Johnson in 1964, ignore the fact that Goldwater wanted to force the Democrats in the South to stop passing discriminatory laws and thus end the need to continuously enact federal civil rights legislation.
Those who wrongly criticize Goldwater also ignore the fact that Johnson, in his 4,500 State of the Union Address delivered on Jan. 4, 1965, mentioned scores of topics for federal action, but only 35 words were devoted to civil rights. He did not mention one word about voting rights. Then in 1967, showing his anger with Dr. King’s protest against the Vietnam War, Johnson referred to Dr. King as “that Nigger preacher.”
Contrary to the false assertions by Democrats, the racist “Dixiecrats” did not all migrate to the Republican Party. “Dixiecrats” declared that they would rather vote for a “yellow dog” than vote for a Republican because the Republican Party was known as the party for blacks. Today, some of those “Dixiecrats” continue their political careers as Democrats, including Robert Byrd, who is well known for having been a “Keagle” in the Ku Klux Klan.