The rise of Southern Republicans versus the black
A critique of the book “The Rise
of Southern Republicans” by Earl Black & Merle Black
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 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
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
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
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
vote went to Kennedy by a margin of at least
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
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
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
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.
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,
Jim Crow Laws that followed the Reconstruction
period were the markings of the Democrat Party in
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,
of the one sided black vote
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
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
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
Brown vs Board of Education
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
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
www.ghanadot.com, Washington, DC,
May 16, 2010
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