What can we say to this doctor?, part 6

Article Series Ends but Our Nation’s History Goes On

We are now at the end of this series gleaning a fuller picture of the “facts of history” the doctor neglected to include in his two-part newsletter article. I am still amazed with his declaration of a cancer growing in our nation and political system; and that as a Conservative, Christian, and Republican, I am considered part of that cancer.

As mentioned in part one, his declaration focused on eugenics and racism being perpetuated by . . . “state sponsored hatred of all humanity” via the alt-right, nationalist, “Christian” conservative, ISIS, white supremacist, and Republican Party. And such so-called conservative Republican “all lives matter rhetoric” elicits fear and hate-based concepts and ignores what he calls “the facts.”

Here Comes the 1960s

After moving through the late 19th and early 20th century in this series, let’s close our “facts” of history journey with the next 1960s political and national turning point. Hitting the ground running, civil rights still was at our nation’s core.
Fortunately, those in both parties rose to the occasion to pass the next civil rights act. However, the politics of one party declaring the other racist charted its new path.

Again, parts of history took a backseat. However, from the Library of Congress archives, The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom, certain legislators were applauded. One particular letter from NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins expressed “. . . his appreciation to Chairman Emanuel Celler (D-NY) of the House Judiciary Committee and Representative William McCulloch (R-OH), the committee’s ranking Republican, for the strong bipartisan support of the civil rights bill in the House, without which crippling amendments would have been enacted. McCulloch also aided the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960.”

President Kennedy first introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1963 through bipartisan support, with revisions to placate opposing Southern Democrats. Then Kennedy’s assassination catapulted the bill to become the Civil Rights Acts of 1964, signed by President Johnson. The act outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, prohibited unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools, employment, and public accommodations.

This act was the watershed for overturning state “separate but equal” segregation laws the 14th Amendment (year 1868) didn’t correct. Another notch toward redemption was etched. This watershed lasted through the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Those years included more federal legislation, many court cases, and the permanent impact Martin Luther King retains today despite his tragic assassination in 1968.

The 1960s revealed supporting civil-rights reform was not a radical turnaround for congressional Republicans. Yet, it was for Lyndon Johnson and most Democrats. Part of the shift came when Democrats also placed civil rights on their 1964 platform. Then add Republican Goldwater’s opposition to portions of the act related to states’ rights. He became front page news questioning the veracity of the Republican civil rights platform.

Then President Johnson hired the DDB ad agency, offering the Democrats a chance to profess Republicans to be the party of racial discrimination from that point on. Goldwater was also declared a nuclear war threat via the infamous “Daisy” ad, losing the 1964 presidential election. The “Daisy” ad also forever changed the way campaigns were run—the more inflammatory, negative, and frightening the better.

If we simply looked at the Civil Rights Act of 1964 voting record, the overall higher support percentage came from Republicans (80%) than Democrats (63%).Yet, if you look a little closer by region, there were a few more Northern Democrats (94%) in support than Northern Republicans (85%). Wonder how the political and media winds would blow if both got the credit then and today for doing what was right?

Yet, one cannot erase the contradictions and compromises on both sides. President Johnson, was also flawed by his words and deeds, initially opposing civil rights legislation. Yet, surely, he and others on both sides still sought to lead the country past those flaws. Fortunately, in the middle of this tumultuous time, bipartisan efforts then produced the Voting Rights Act of 1965, co-sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans.

With So Much History Before Us

Isn’t it time to move from a politically motivated “selective, sound-bite history” to a broader brush stroke of facts and truth? Hopefully, we will also walk our talk, restraining our more fallible human nature. And as ancient verses imply, “Who is going to cast the first stone or pluck the speck out of someone’s eye, when we need to first remove the log in our own eye!?”

No matter our core values and bias, how has this journey down history lane changed for the better the way you think, speak, and act toward others? Have you started to see “the person” more than “the labeled group,” just as Franklin McCain did on February 1, 1960? I hope so, particularly if you ever face someone like this dear doctor who unknowingly inspired me to write this series. I am grateful he also unknowingly challenged me to look closely at what I believe and what history reveals.

Let’s continue to open our eyes and hands to the possibility for respectful dialogue with those we disagree. You just may find common ground and a friend. With the following eclectic links and those previously offered, I encourage you to continue exploring lessons of our nation’s political and generational turning points, and humanity’s redemptive struggle. Thank you for staying with me through America’s redeeming timeline.