Letters to the Editor

Voice of the People - August 8, 2007

Why do blacks vote Democratic?

During the recent Democratic debates in Charleston, one thing became abundantly clear. The Democrats were pandering to the African-American demographic in South Carolina. This is smart politics since blacks vote Democrat by a 9-1 margin and will be a determining factor in which candidate wins the state primary. Nevertheless, one has to wonder, why do African-Americans vote for Democrats by such overwhelming margins? Don't they get it?

It was the Republican Party along with religious groups that led the abolition movement in this country. Nearly every plank of the Republican Party platform in 1850 called for the abolition of slavery and the granting of civil rights to African-Americans while the Democratic platform vociferously defended slavery. This battle continued along party lines until, in 1861, nearly all Democrats left Congress for the Confederate legislature in order to preserve slavery.

At the end of the Civil War, the ratification of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments was accomplished by Republicans over the fierce resistance of Democrats. These three civil rights amendments are the basis for all current civil rights legislation. The passage of the 15th Amendment, guaranteeing blacks the right to vote, led to the election of the first African-Americans to Congress, Hiram Rhodes Revels of Mississippi to the Senate and Joseph H. Rainey of South Carolina to the House of Representatives. Both were elected as Republicans.

Post-Civil War congressional Republicans continued to lead the fight for civil rights, passing seven civil rights bills, most overturned by the Supreme Court, including an 1875 law prohibiting segregation, which was overturned in Plessy vs. Fergerson. It was not until 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education that the court reversed itself and upheld that Republican law. In fact, the resurrection of civil rights in the famous 1968 Civil Rights Act was based largely upon the Reconstruction Civil Rights Acts passed by Republicans a century earlier.

It was a Republican president that activated the Arkansas National Guard and desegregated the Little Rock Schools and it was Democrats who fought desegregation throughout the South. Post John F. Kennedy, it was Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat who instituted the "Great Society," a welfare program that destroyed the black family. The legacy of the welfare programs is that the Democrats have convinced African-Americans that they cannot make it by themselves, that they need the special help of politicians. The Democrats have turned them into victims.

Austin G. Abercrombie

Fort Mill