Black Power Republicans and Blackstone Rangers

A postscript to my earlier item about John McClaughry and the Republicans of the 1960s: I wasn't kidding when I said the "moderate" wing of the GOP contained multitudes. Check out this passage from Geoffrey Kabaservice's fascinating 2012 book Rule and Ruin, which comes after Kabaservice describes McClaughry and his then-boss, Illinois Sen. Charles Percy, forging an alliance with David R. Reed, a Chicago civil rights activist who led a group called the New Breed Committee. Reed, who ran for Congress as a Republican, supported local control of schools, opposed centralized public housing plans, and wanted to replace traditional welfare programs with something similar to Milton Friedman's negative income tax (in part because the Chicago Democratic machine "used threats of welfare cutoffs to keep the poor in line"). He also put Percy's office in touch with some folks who wouldn't usually turn up in a Republican rolodex:

Young Republicanshe introduced McClaughry and other Percy assistants to the 3,000-member Blackstone Rangers, Chicago's most powerful and feared black street gang. Reed's work with young people brought him into contact with some of the Rangers. Members of the New Breed approached the gang to try to get them not to harm Reed's workers in the district, particularly white volunteers and people on loan from the Pecy campaign. Some members of the New Breed believed that the Rangers could provide access to voters in the housing projects, while others hoped to channel the gang's energies away from violence and into political activism. Reed became a liason between the gang and the Republicans working for his campaign, which led to meetings with the gang's charismatic kingpin, Jeff Fort, and late-night basketball games with gang members. For a while, McClaughry was optimistic about a possible Republican-Ranger entente. "There is no doubt in my mind at all that Jeff [Fort] could go to City Council or even further, with his ability and magnetic leadership," he wrote to Reed. "If the Rangers get the message, there could really be a revolution within people, as well as within the district." McClaughry later recalled that "The Blackstone Rangers were at war with City Hall and the Democratic power structure, and so were the Republicans, so there was some interest in this group. The Republicans put out a tentative feelers, because if these people actually voted, or if they intimidated whole neighborhoods into voting, they could be a powerful voting bloc. But this was risky business, since the Rangers were criminals."

File that idea under Paths Not Taken: "In the end, the Republicans decided the risks of working with the Rangers outweighed the benefits." But the gang didn't leave politics behind: They soon got some grant money from LBJ's Office of Economic Opportunity. Fort eventually found a new patron, name of Muammar Qaddafi.

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  • John||


    The Street gangs of Chicago found other politicians to work with, namely the entire Chicago machine.

  • ||

    Lots more on the Almight Black P Stone Nation in this book. They definitely turned the Great Society programs into the way to fund a huge gang. Book comes highly recommended from my man and sounded very interesting.

  • anon||

    Book comes highly recommended from my man and sounded very interesting.

    You don't own slave-children like the rest of us?

  • sarcasmic||

    Republican Power Rangers?

  • Dweebston||


    Switched over to Ed Schultz during my lunch break. Discussing Obamacare: "We need to make this work or we'll never have a shot at single payer."

    I'm starting to feel bad about the schadenfreude. Mental illness is not a joke.

  • ||

    He is correct though. His error is that he allows his leftist viewers to infer that single-payer would be a real likely outcome if Obamacare is successful.

  • larry hammond||

    I am more worried about it becoming a reality due to the failures of Obamacare. Never waste a crisis!

    "We MUST implement single payer to save the millions of innocent citizens that have lost their insurance due to our previous actions. The market has failed the great people of this country yet again. Time for us to do something together and finally implement single payer. It is what all civilized countries do and what we should have done before we tried to let the market work. Unfortunately evil profit seeking corporations failed the middle class, so now we must progress and move forward together."

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Ah yes, the good old days when Republican "moderates" conducted political negotiations with street gangs. Too bad these moderates have been replaced by teabagging extremists who arent into The Life.


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