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When some people hear that, they tune us out and say: he’s just using code words for the state’s right to discriminate, for the state’s right to segregate and abuse.
But that’s simply not true.
Many Republicans do believe that decentralization of power is the best policy, that government is more efficient, more just, and more personal when it is smaller and more local.
But Republicans also realize that there are occasions of such egregious injustice that require federal involvement, and that is precisely what the 14th amendment and the Civil Rights Act were intended to do-protect citizens from state and local tyranny.
The 14th Amendment says, “No state shall . . .” The fourteenth amendment did change the constitution to give a role for the federal government in protecting citizenship and voting regardless of race.
I did not live through segregation nor did I experience it first-hand. I did grow up in the South in public schools comprised of white, black, and Latino students largely all getting along with each other.
So, perhaps some will say that I can never understand. But I don’t think you had to be there to have been affected by our nation’s history of racial strife.
The tragedy of segregation and Jim Crow in the South is compounded when you realize that integration began in New England in the 1840’s and 1850’s.
In 1841, Frederick Douglass was pulled from the white car on the Eastern Railroad, clutching his seat so tightly that he was thrown from the train with its remnants still tightly in his hands.
But, within a few years public transportation was integrated in the northeast.
It is a stain on our history that integration didn’t occur until more than 100 years later in the South. That in the 1960’s we were still fighting to integrate public transportation and schools is and was an embarrassment.
The story of emancipation, voting rights and citizenship, from Fredrick Douglass until the modern civil rights era, is in fact the history of the Republican Party.
How did the party that elected the first black U.S. Senator, the party that elected the first 20 African American Congressmen become a party that now loses 95 percent of the black vote?
How did the Republican Party, the party of the great Emancipator, lose the trust and faith of an entire race?
From the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, for a century, most black Americans voted Republican. How did we lose that vote?