The “Facts” of History
In the previous article (part one) I mentioned a recent newsletter article sent to me from an integrative MD I have admired and followed for years. Yet, I became sadly perplexed by what he published about a cancer growing regarding anyone connected to the Republican party, conservatives, Christians, or any race or religion you happen to support, who have ignored “facts” about the “hatred of all humanity” from these groups. Included in this list was ISIS, white supremacist, and others all lumped together.
Just as Hitler learned from America’s early 20th century eugenics or “ethnic cleansing” events, so are we today. . . so says this doctor. Like lemmings we are supposedly going along with someone (guess who?) like with Hitler, because “. . . people didn’t believe he was that bad because he was so nice to them, charismatic, had family values. . .”
So, how do we respond, particularly those who may be a Republican, conservative, and Christian? Maybe we need to continue digging a little further into the “facts” of history this doctor missed. Cruising through a fuller look at our nation and humanity’s redemptive struggle, let’s go back through the 19th century for a moment.
History reveals the following laws introduced by so-called “Radical Republicans” to set the foundation for achieving civil right for African Americans (learn more at house.gov, History, Art, & Archives):
|13th Amendment to the Constitution of 1865||Abolished slavery and involuntary servitude.|
|Civil Rights Act 1866||Granted all citizens “full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property.”|
|Provided assistance to tens of thousands (among nearly 4 million) former slaves and impoverished whites in Southern States and District of Columbia who were homeless, starving, owning only the clothes they wore.|
|Reconstruction Acts of 1867-1868||Created five military districts in the South, each commanded by a general, serving as the acting government for the region. Also required each state draft a new state constitution, approved by Congress and ratify the 14th Amendment in order to be represented in Congress.|
|14th Amendment to the Constitution of 1868||Granted citizenship and equal protection of life, liberty or property to “all persons born or naturalized in the US,” including former slaves freed.|
|15th Amendment to the Constitution of 1870||Granted African American men the right to vote and not be denied or abridged by the US or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. The promise of this amendment was not fully realized for almost a century until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.|
1st, 2nd, 3rd Ku Klux Klan Acts of 1870-1871 (or Enforcement Acts)
|Criminal codes were created protecting African-Americans’ right to vote, hold office, serve on juries, receive equal protection of laws, and intervene when states did not protect these rights.|
|Civil Rights Act of 1875||Original bill outlawed racial discrimination in juries, schools, transportation, public accommodations. Yet, it only passed after all references to equal and integrated education were removed. The Supreme Court struck down the bill in 1883 on the grounds the Constitution did not extend to private businesses.|
As more inequalities were chipped away and more freedoms put into law, they were not necessarily followed or enforced by Southern states. The Democratic Party had to contend and compromise with their Southern Democrats, as sweeping numbers of blacks became Republicans.
Efforts at segregation and disenfranchisement continued even after the 15th Amendment was ratified in 1870. Failure to include gender rights, it also didn’t stop many Southern states from continuing to subvert the voting rights of blacks and poor whites with changing the state constitution, adding legislation, poll taxes and literacy tests, among other intimidations and attacks via the KKK.
An article and video by History.com staff, Ku Klux Klan (2009), documented the following: “Founded in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) extended into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a vehicle for white southern resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction-era policies. . . Though Congress passed legislation designed to curb Klan terrorism, the organization saw its primary goal–the reestablishment of white supremacy–fulfilled through Democratic victories in state legislatures across the South in the 1870s.”
Even with this violent resistance, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, there were 16 African Americans serving in Congress during Reconstruction, more than 600 in state legislatures, and hundreds more in local offices as sheriffs and justices of the peace. Their presence “. . . marked a dramatic break with the country’s traditions and aroused bitter hostility from Reconstruction’s opponents.”
An 1872 Currier and Ives print even depicted the first seven black Americans elected to the U.S. Congress during the Reconstruction period, 1865 to 1877 (All Republicans). Among these first seven was Rep. Joseph Hayne Rainey, SC (1832-1887). Although born a slave and biracial, Rainey became the first black Speaker of the U.S. House in 1870 and served in Congress longer than any other black American at that time.
During my article series research, I also came across an 1872 Congressional testimony of those living in Georgia and other Southern states regarding KKK (Volume 1, Georgia, Testimony taken by The Joint Select Committee to inquire into The Condition of Affairs in The Late Insurrectionary States; digitized by Google Books from the University of Chicago Library Durrett Collection). The Durrett Collection testimony is an eye opener on the treatment of blacks and whites, including what both parties were up to.
In part three, we will jump ahead to the 1960s when things again shifted, politically and nationally. It seemed like our nation was about to crumble during that decade. We were also facing the next turning point toward redemption of our past yet to be fully reconciled. Sound familiar for today?