Black History Fun Fact Friday – How the Election of 1960 Changed the Majority Black Vote

On the tail-end of his TMZ interview, Kanye West posed a question, “is it true that blacks used to be Republican?” He went on to say, “the majority of African Americans used to be Republican….what was the reason that majority of blacks went from being Republican to being Democrats?”

I thought it would be a good time to merge current events with a fun fact for anyone who may have been left confused. While I won’t say that every black American did so (that wouldn’t be accurate), it is true that until the 1960s, the majority black American voted Republican. And for the record, let me be crystal clear: I am not a Republican and I am not a Democrat. They are two wings of the same bird as far as I am concerned. Malcolm X said it best:

I’m no politician. I’m not even a student of politics. I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American – and got sense enough to know it. I’m one of the 22 million black victims of the Democrats. One of the 22 million black victims of the Republicans and one of the 22 million black victims of Americanism. And when I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat or a Republican, nor an American.

– Malcolm X, (1964). Speech, The Ballot or the Bullet. Retrieved from http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/blackspeech/mx.html

Due the African American experience in this country (U.S.), most black voters I’ve spoken to support the party they feel are in the best interest of black people (even if they really aren’t, ijs) and back then this party was the Republican party. It was the party of Lincoln, who many blacks saw as a hero because of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the enslaved in certain states.

A little-known fact is that Martin Luther King Dr. was closer to Republican candidate Richard Nixon than he was Kennedy. King and Nixon were friends. They met in Ghana in March 1957 and agreed to stay in touch. That summer, Nixon worked with King to strengthen the 1957 Civil Rights Bill.

Nixon and MLK

“I will long remember the rich fellowship which we shared together and the fruitful discussion that we had,” Dr. King later wrote to the vice president, telling him “how deeply grateful all people of goodwill are to you for your assiduous labor and dauntless courage in seeking to make the Civil Rights Bill a reality… This is certainly an expression of your devotion to the highest mandates of the moral law.” – MLK

Nixon replied, “I am sure you know how much I appreciate your generous comments. My only regret is that I have been unable to do more than I have. Progress is understandably slow in this field, but we at least can be sure that we are moving steadily and surely ahead.” (Read Nixon’s full letter to King Here.)

King and Nixon talked often and after a black woman in Harlem stabbed Dr. King at his book signing in September 1958, Nixon was among the first to write to him.

Why are we talking about this?

Because what halted their friendship had a lot to do with what also ultimately halted the majority black vote of the Republican Party.

In his fiery inaugural speech in January of 1963, the new governor of Alabama, George Wallace had pledged, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” (you know, the clip used in every documentary about the civil rights movement) This launched civil rights protests throughout the city of Birmingham, Alabama.

Birmingham at the time was already a very racists city. It was where lots of Civil Rights activity took place that was met with violence and the city was nicknamed Bomingham because of the number of bombings that took place on a regular basis from people in opposition to integration. Such bombings resulted in the bombing of homes and lead to such tragedies as the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963 killing four little girls. The church stood in an area common for such attacks.

When King was arrested on October 19, 1960 during a sit-in protest of lunch counters in Atlanta and sentenced to hard labor, Civil Rights Activists approached both sides, Democratic and Republican, rallying for someone to do something to get King out of jail. Nixon even got a visit from Jackie Robinson, asking him to help with getting Dr. King out. Robinson was opposed to John F. Kennedy as President because he thought he was weak on Civil Rights and so did many black Americans at that time. It was common knowledge that the Democrats had the support of Southern racists. During the campaign, Kennedy raised suspicions in the black community by his support of Southerners, meeting privately with them and promising Governor Vandiver that as president he would never use federal troops to force Georgia to desegregate its schools.

Long story short, Nixon shot Robinson down, saying, it would be “grandstanding” to speak out in defense of King, according to his aide William Safire. This forever changed Nixon and King’s relationship….and King’s endorsement.

“I always felt that Nixon lost a real opportunity to express … support of something much larger than an individual, because this expressed support of the movement for civil rights in a way. And I had known Nixon longer. He had been supposedly close to me, and he would call me frequently about things, getting, seeking my advice. And yet, when this moment came, it was like he had never heard of me, you see.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is my opinion that Nixon withdrew because he had ulterior motives with starting Cointel Pro, the Counter Intelligence Program that destroyed such black revolutionary organizations as The Black Panthers.

Meanwhile, Bobby and Jack Kennedy discussed the political ramifications of getting King out of jail. Senator Kennedy phoned Governor Vandiver asking if there was anything the Governor could do to get King out. (Thomas, Evans (2013). Robert Kennedy: His Life. pp 103.) Vandiver didn’t want to do it but he wanted Kennedy to win the presidency. A call was made to Coretta Scott King, word got out about the phone call, rumors spread, and shortly afterward, King was released from jail. Upon landing in Atlanta, King endorsed Kennedy and because blacks supported King, they supported Kennedy in mass.

While I cannot say for sure this swung the black vote in the Democrats favor 100% (there’s no way to provide proof of this on my part), I do know it had a LOT to do with it.

“Nixon in 1960 won just 32 percent… Four years later, facing Barry Goldwater, Lyndon Johnson won 94 percent of the black vote, which set a demographic pattern that endures.”

(Frank, J (2013, 21 January). When Martin Luther King Jr. and Richard Nixon Were Friends. Retrieved from https://www.thedailybeast.com/when-martin-luther-king-jr-and-richard-nixon-were-friends)

Meanwhile, Kennedy had been in the White House for years and had not delivered on his promise to support new anti-discrimination measures. When he was a Senator, he had promised that he would which resulted in a ton of support from African American voters.

“The first thing the cracker does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee. To show that he’s all right. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is all right. Oh, I say you been misled. You been had. You been took.”

– Malcolm X

Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary: Malcolm X Speeches and Writings (Atlanta, GA: Pathfinder Press, 1992), 59

It wasn’t until violent protests forced Kennedy to act that he did act. Racial tensions had reached a fever pitch. American citizens were horrified to see blacks being bitten by dogs, beaten with clubs, and drowned with water-hoses. Protests were getting more violent. All of this led up to the signing of the Civil Rights Act.  John F. Kennedy proposed and Lyndon B Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement

…and many blacks have been voting Democratic ever since.

“He was sentenced to six months at hard labor, but presidential candidate John F. Kennedy reached out to the King family and helped secure Dr. King’s release, earning him pivotal black votes that would help him win the presidency that year.”

Black Then, (2017, 25 August) October 19, 1960 – Martin Luther King Arrested in Atlanta Sit-In Protest. Retrieved from https://blackthen.com/october-19-1960-martin-luther-king-arrested-in-atlanta-sit-in-protest-video/

“The government itself has failed us. And once we see that all of these other sources to which we’ve turned have failed, we stop turning to them and turn to ourselves. We need a self-help program, a do-it-yourself philosophy, a do-it-right-now philosophy, a it’s-already-too-late philosophy. This is what you and I need to get with. And the only time – the only way we’re going to solve our problem is with a self-help program. Before we can get a self-help program started, we have to have a self-help philosophy.”

– Malcolm X

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Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Because It’s Right

Welcome to another segment of Writers Quote Wednesday as hosted by Colleen of Silver Threading. Today, I take my inspiration from someone I rarely speak about. I rarely speak about him, not because he wasn’t important, but because I try to speak about people we may be less familiar with and this man, well, we are all familiar with his name.

She reads the bible but does not go to Church. She’s not a Christian.
She doesn’t eat pork but does not call on Allah. She’s not Muslim.
She speaks of black identity but shows love to all men.
She’s not Afrocentricity.
She says the Egyptians were black but she’s not Egyptology.
She says the Israelites were black but she’s not Jewish.
She advocates for positive change. She’s not political.
She’s not….she’s not…she’s not…..

People will always try and figure you out. Why do you say the things that you do? Why do you speak the way that you speak? This quote is a reminder that sometimes there is no agenda. Sometimes truth must be spoken not because it is political. Not because it is religious. Not because it is in popular demand but because it is right. I speak the truth simply because the truth is always right no matter who says it.

********

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Movie Night Friday – Malcolm X

MNF

Welcome back to another week of Movie Night Friday, where I present some of my favorite movies and why I love them. Next up on our list is Malcolm X:

sjff_02_img07402I still don’t understand why Denzel Washington could win an Oscar for Training Day and not Malcolm X, it is in my opinion one of his best roles (Washington did win the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor). Directed and co-written by Spike Lee, Malcolm X released in November of ’92 and is based on the life of Malcolm X from his Biography. It was a time where, after the crack epidemic of the 80’s, Black people had begun to pick up some inkling of consciousness. You’ll notice many movies in the early 90s where blacks wore Kufi’s, and Dashiki’s as an indication of awareness (even though not completely, there is always stepping stones that take place in our lives that start us on the right path). Needless to say Malcolm X was a hit.

MalcolmxdvdsetThe movie takes us through the life of Malcolm Little, his early life as a gangster and as a criminal and his transformation as the controversial Islamic, Black Nationalist leader Malcolm X. For the record, I am not a Muslim, but I love how Denzel showed Malcolm’s passion and anyone with access to YouTube can verify this in the eyes of the real Malcolm. It’s one thing to make a speech or stand for something, but it’s a completely different thing when you are sincere about it, when you have passion that comes from the depths of your very heart and Malcolm had this. He had this and it lit a fire under those who wished to be apart of change for the so called Black people. And because of the traumatic experiences of America, we more than our brothers and sisters in any other country worldwide, need the kind of discipline that Malcolm brought forward; a tough love if you will. I also love the outreach programs catered to the community and the re-instilling of a love of self; the teaching of black people to embrace, as Malcolm put it, “their beautiful black selves”. Of course today I have a different perspective on the whole black thing (as I do not believe our nationality is defined by a color, that we are from the lost tribe of shabbaz or that white people are devils, for the record), but this movie was a great first step for many young people, such as myself, to dig deeper into the question of nationhood. The movie even portrayed Malcolm’s awareness that the Hebrews, was (are) Black Skinned:

Yea Yea, ignore the title of the video because this isn’t about religion and it’s deeper than color, but the point is that scenes such as this is a great introduction to full understanding for someone who otherwise does not know.

Moving on…

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Additionally, I loved the way Malcolm explained things because not everyone can do that. Yes, you say that you believe in something but what is that belief based on? And what do you mean? Malcolm spoke to understanding, he was precise, knowledgeable, and aware on a level that made your head spin. Just watching this movie alone makes me excited and compelled to do something. But of all this, the most important part of the movie, in which it was careful not to go into much detail, was the end, Malcolm’s split from the NOI (Nation of Islam)

tumblr_lkf98qX9Yl1qhvyhzo1_1280You see, I cannot judge neither Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Dr., for what they were for the first part of their lives. For me, what’s important is how they ended their lives. Malcolm X left this world with a different outlook on life and I do believe he understood the truth completely. He discovered the lies and attempted to expose the truth when he was murdered, as did Dr. King (whose entire jaw was blown off as symbolism that you keep your mouth shut). You see, men of this caliber, who spark this much power among black people, they aren’t just killed by random acts of violence, they are murdered and this is not political mumbo jumbo nor is it conspiracy theory; this is conspiracy fact.

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In 2010, Malcolm X the film, was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Trailer:

Funny Movie Mistakes:

When Malcolm is talking on the telephone in an extreme close up, you can see the connector on the phone is one of the modern snap-in modular jacks. Telephones in the 1960’s did not have those.

Watch the movie and see if you can spot the knot!

“What’s your favorite movie? Why do you love it?”