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The rise of Southern Republicans versus the black vote
A critique of the book “The Rise of Southern Republicans” by Earl Black & Merle Black
E. Ablorh-Odjidja

One overriding theme that seeks to explain Democrat dominance of black politics in America seems to mark the Civil Rights era, especially beginning 1964, as the reason.

“The Rise of Southern Republicans” by the Earl and Merle Black brothers, does not specifically support this theme, though it comes close to it in its assertions.

Writing about Southern politics, Earle and Merle Black postulate that the switch in party affiliation in the South occurred after the 1964 Civil Rights Act vote because white Democrats who opposed the Act supported Barry Goldwater, the Republican presidential candidate for 1964, who had also voted against it.

It is to be assumed then that because of Goldwater’s pivotal stand and the consequent Southern white Democrat drift to the Republican Party, blacks who supported the Act went in droves to join the Democrat Party.

Today, the remarkable point remains that blacks continue to vote massively against the Republican Party.  The paradox is they have done similar even before 1964.  The question then is whether 1964 triggered black antipathy for Republican politics in as seminal manner as purported.

Or to put it in more cogent term was the Civil Right Act vote quintessentially the only legislative attempt in Congress to better the political lot of blacks in America at that time?

How about the Civil Right Bill of 1957 enacted during the Eisenhower/Nixon era; a bill which was described by Jonathan Aitken in his book, “Nixon, a life,” as the “first law of its kind to be proposed since reconstruction?

The Civil Rights Bill was a precursor to the Civil Right Act. One would suppose that blacks, as a matter of self-interest, supported the original draft of the first, as proposed by the Eisenhower administration, as they enthusiastically did the passage of the subsequent Act in 1964.

Southern Democrats, predominantly white, opposed the first Civil Rights Bill of the Eisenhower administration and did their best to see it weakened. Still, Dr. Martin Luther King had argued that the Bill was worth keeping even in its weakened form.

Yet, in spite of Nixon’s introduction and support for the Civil Rights Bill of 1957, he was to lose the presidential elections of 1960 by a slim margin of some 0.08% in the overall vote. But, the black vote went to Kennedy by a margin of at least 70%.

More telling was what happened after the passage of the Civil Rights Bill of 1957. The first job of the bill was the setting up of the Civil Right Commission whose first task was to look for “evidence of racial discrimination in voting rights in Montgomery, Alabama” in the South.

Blocking access of the Commission to voter registration records was Circuit Judge George C. Wallace of Alabama. He was to become notorious as a segregation hero and a governor while he remained a Democrat. This fact did not cause a shift in black loyalty to the Republican Party. Was Barry Goldwater then more of a racist than George Wallace?

Yet, to this day, and as Earl and Merle claim, “Elections in the contemporary South ordinarily separate extraordinary large Democratic majorities of blacks from smaller Republican majorities of whites.”

Perhaps, for blacks, the shift in political lineage occurred sooner than 1964. It has remained Democrat. The question is why.

Earle and Merle mentioned the “Battle field Sectionalism” that characterized American politics immediately after the Civil War of the Lincoln era and said the “intense struggle between Republicans and Democrats that emerged from the Civil War… generally paralleled the traditional geographic division between the free states and the slave states.”

Both Republicans and Democrats found themselves at opposite ends of this “sectionalism,” with Democrats supporting the slave holding Southern states through and after the war. Aligning black interest with the politics of the Republicans at this time would not be a hard guess.


Reading another book, Kevin Boyle's "Arc of Justice," especially the chapter on "Ain't No Slavery No More," that described conditions of the black man in the American South before and after the Civil War is very upsetting and confirms why black interest will still be with the Republicans.


Also, the fact that a United States Supreme Court could impose "the sanctity of slavery" on American society with the Dred Scott Decision   will always confirm the depth and force of the humanity that brought Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, to the presidency.


On the other hand, the Jim Crow Laws that followed the Reconstruction period were the markings of the Democrat Party in the South.

Yes, a switch occurred in Southern politics. “The Rise of Southern Republicans” explains the reason why a majority of whites split from the Democrat party in 1964. But it does not satisfactorily explain the paradox of black loyalty to the Democrat party before and after 1964.

And even should a shift be identified and explained as means to black political power, the end that was sought could still be open to question, in terms of what, historically, the power of the one sided black vote has gained.


For instance, a just released study by Brandeis University of Massachusetts found that "White families typically have assets worth $100,000 (69,000), up from $22,000 in the mid-1980s. African-American families' assets stand at just $5,000, up from around $2,000.' reported the Guardian, UK.


Blacks have voted Democrat consistently for the past 40 years or more, yet show almost a flat lined growth in wealth accumulation!

Democrats, with the exception of President Johnson, did not cause the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It required the extreme bi-partisan support of Republicans.

The bill was dominated by a filibuster by 18 southern Democrats and one Republican Senator. Democrat notables like Al Gore, Snr, Robert Byrd (spoke for 14 hours and 13 minutes), Richard Russell, Sam Ervin (the Watergate hero), J. William Fulbright (opposed Brown vs Board of Education too, and was the mentor of Bill Clinton) and others.

It took a Senate Republican Everett McKinley Dirksen to bring the filibuster to end and the bill to pass, with 79% of Republicans and 63% of Democrats voting “yes.”

The fight against the Civil Rights Act was to continue in the South, led by Democrat governors; George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and others.

The totality of the above events, even the thought of it, should have been enough to cause a shift in black allegiance from the Democrat Party. Instead, we have had the Barry Goldwater explanation and similar excuses as the reasons for the loyalty.  What a paradox!

In short, there is an absence of sufficient explanation in this book as to why blacks remained Democrat. Earle and Merle are not black.  The absence of explanation is understandable. It is the politically correct posture to assume - in the face of black democrat elites’ dominance of the political process in black America.


E. Ablorh-Odjidja, Publisher, Washington, DC, May 16, 2010

Permission to publish:  Please feel free to publish or reproduce, with credits, unedited.  If posted at a website, email a copy of the web page to . Or don't publish at all.





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