The voter discrimination memo Eric Holder missed

If Eric Holder had a history lesson on voter intimidation, maybe he would see the benefit of voter ID protections. Photo: Voter ID/ AP

WASHINGTON, September 30, 2013 — In August, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed House Bill 589 into law, making North Carolina one of 34 states requiring, or attempting to require, some form of identification to vote. The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to stop the new voter ID law.

Attorney General Eric Holder promised to use the 1965 Voting Rights Act to take action against states he believes are using discriminatory voting laws. Holder is likely reacting to a not so distant, dark past where blacks faced brutal intimidation and sometimes death for attempting to engage in the American political process.

Providing photo ID as proof of who you are, age, and address is reasonable. The state will provide, free of charge, photo ID to those who don’t have one. It protects the election process from fraud, irrespective of color.

If Eric Holder had a history lesson on voter intimidation, maybe he would see the benefit of voter ID and other provisions that protect elections.

In 1856, U.S. Senator Charles Sumner of MA, a prominent Democrat, left his party to help start a new party aimed at ending slavery, once and for all. He stood before the Senate and gave a two-day long speech against slavery.

Following the speech, South Carolina Congressional Democrat Preston Brooks beat Sumner nearly to death on the Senate floor. It took three years for Sumner to recover.

By 1860, the American public had awakened to the anti-slavery cause and elected the first Republican president - Abraham Lincoln.

The Civil War would rage on from 1861 – 1865, primarily as a fight between Southern and Northern states over slavery. The country sacrificed 646,000 citizens, either killed or wounded.

By 1865, the 13th Amendment outlaws slavery.

In 1868, the 14th Amendment explicitly forbids states from denying any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”

Congressional records show that not one single Northern or Southern Democrat voted for the 14th Amendment, even after all that was lost in life and treasure during the war.

In his book, History in Black and White, David Barton chronicles the enormous progress made by black Republicans from the South following the war. Even before the 14th Amendment, blacks across the nation, especially the South, formed political organizations and registered to vote in the droves.

In the late 1860s, Texas elected 42 black Republicans. Louisiana elected 95 U.S. House members and 32 U.S. Senators  - all black Republicans. In Alabama, the first 103 black state representatives were Republican, 112 in Mississippi, and 190 in South Carolina.

Black Americans in Congress documents that many others, born slaves, made their way to the halls of Congress. The first black U.S. Senator, Republican Hiram Rhodes Revels was an ordained minister, missionary, and chaplain during the Civil War fromMississippi. Other black Congressional representatives include Benjamin Turner ofAlabama, Robert De Large of South Carolina, Josiah Walls of Florida, and Jefferson Long of Georgia.

Democrats immediately began to fight against this black progress state-by-state through creation of a violent terror organization called the Klu Klux Klan, according to Congressional records published in 1872 .

From Reconstruction, and actively through the 1960s, the Klan terrorized and murdered blacks and whites alike that would not pledge to vote only for Democrats.

In 1868, the Democratic Party published a small “push-card” showing the photo and name of 63 “radicals.” All “radicals” were Republicans, most were black.

By 1875, Republicans had passed nearly two-dozen civil rights bills, including the 15th Amendment to the Constitution explicitly guaranteeing black voter rights, all without one Democratic vote.

Voter fraud and intimidation at the hands of Democrats undid black gains in voter turn out and leadership in government. Harper’s Weekly, November 12, 1864, reported on the practice of pulling names from headstones and casting votes. The New York Tribune(1879) uncovered bribery among election officials by the Democratic Presidential candidate Samuel Tilden’s campaign. Others reported intimidation at polling places where blacks tried to vote.

The 1876 election between Democrat Samuel Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes ended up in a stalemate. Democrats agreed to allow Hayes to take his place as president and end the stalemate on one condition.

All federal troops had to leave the Southern states.

Reconstruction ended. Blacks were left without the protection needed to continue their progress integrating as freemen and women into society.

By 1870, Democratic run states from Delaware to North Carolina instituted poll taxes, literacy tests, and multiple ballot locations for the same election cycle, Grandfathering (a father or grandfather had to have been registered to vote), white-only primaries and more to keep blacks away from the polls.

“Black Codes” kept blacks from holding office, owning property, entering town without permission and even owning knives or guns.

It was not until 1893 that Democrats controlled both houses and the presidency after the Civil War. By 1900, Democrats were actively undoing civil rights legislation and attempting to undo the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution.

Democrat Woodrow Wilson from New Jersey re-segregated the federal government and showed the pro-Klu Klux Klan film by D.W. Griffith, Birth of a Nation, in 1915 at the White House.

Black Americans continued to support Republicans well into the 20th Century. Herbert Hoover received three-fourths of the black vote over Franklin Roosevelt.

Harry Truman would be the first national level Democrat to advocate for civil rights. FDR had his “black cabinet” of advisors but never advocated for any civil rights reform.

Republican President and decorated general Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed the first bold civil rights legislation in 1957 to reclaim what had been lost for blacks. Democrats fought to keep any segment from passing. He established the Civil Rights Division within the Justice Department that would play an important role in the 1960s and 70s.

In 1959, Eisenhower presented a second run at civil rights. The Democratic Party thwarted him again. Yet, it did mark the first time a few Democrats crossed over to help.

John F. Kennedy picked up the baton in 1963 after the Birmingham riots. He was assassinated before the work could be completed. It was his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson who would get credit for passing the legislation that would return blacks the rights so many fought for in the Civil War.

It took 100 years for Democrats to decide that allowing blacks to vote would benefit their party.

In spite of a majority in Congress, only 63 percent of Democrats voted in favor of the civil rights bills. Eighty-three percent of Republicans supported the measures.

Chris Ladd, writing for the Huffington Post, explains that the decades of success blacks enjoyed following the Civil War were “crushed over and over again by discriminatory laws and outright violence. There was no hope for economic progress without the most basic civil rights.”

Ladd continues, “Blacks’ experience with government power is almost a polar opposite of whites’. When central government has been weak, they have suffered. This suffering is not merely relative, but has left them vulnerable to random acts of violence, humiliation, and looting. They have good reason to see government power as protection and to be suspicious of white efforts to weaken it.”

This may explain why black Americans today follow the party that attempted to keep them away from their right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” while rejecting the party that led the charge to provide those rights.

The party that wrote the book on voter fraud, intimidation, and dependence is recast as the protector when Eric Holder claims he’s protecting blacks by going after new voter ID laws.

Some black leaders may believe that turning a blind eye to the past and to the very principles of freedom, which require individual responsibility, will help their constituents.

Refusing to allow protections that ensure integrity within the electoral process for all does not change the past nor does it help anyone.

Modern day Republicans must come to understand the long history of black experience from the Civil War forward. It is not enough to fight for the philosophy of freedom. Like the importance of federal troops to shelter blacks as they gained their true independence in the late 1800s, the Republican party must meet blacks where they are today offering tangible support along side legislation to ensure elections are fair and fraud-free, as well as education and tax reforms that will lift all people.

Carla Garrison follows current events with one eye on history and the other on the future.  Her goal is to encourage people to know the truth and use it as a call to personal action. Read more Truth be Told.



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Carla Garrison

Carla writes about current issues and events with an aim toward telling the truth, using the writings of great thinkers, dead and living, as well as common sense.

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