Democratic leaders long stood in the doorways of schoolhouses and told black school children that we don’t want you in here to get the good education that our children are getting. Today, as many black students have become mired in urban schools that are often failing or deteriorating, Democrats are once again standing in the doorway, this time to keep black students from getting out.
Consider the situation in Washington, D. C., where 84 percent of the city’s students are black: despite the fact that nearly $13,500 is spent each year on every student in the District, D. C. schools currently rank among the worst of all schools in the nation. Congress therefore moved to help by providing a $7,500 voucher for low-income students trapped in failing schools – a voucher they could redeem to attend a better school – a school chosen by that student and his or her parents. When that congressional proposal came to a vote, ninety-nine percent of Democrats voted against that bill allowing students in failing schools to choose a better school – only one percent of Democrats in Congress supported vouchers and parental school choice in education, 289 even though nationally nearly 70 percent of African Americans with children support educational choice – a level of support well above that of the general population.
While Democrats once stood in the doorways of public schools and told black students, “We don’t want you in here,” they are again standing in the doorways of public schools, this time telling black students that they don’t want them out – that they want them to remain in failing schools. It appears that for a century-and-a-half, Democrats have often taken wrong positions on educational opportunity for black Americans.
Returning to the 19th century, in 1883, the U. S. Supreme Court – using the same abominable logic it displayed in the deplorable Dred Scott decision – struck down the 1875 civil rights laws that prohibited segregation and racial discrimination. Regrettably, it would be almost seventy years after this before the Supreme Court would relent and partially undo some of the painful effects of its pro-segregation decision by reinstating part of the intent of the Republican civil rights law of 1875.
Rep. John Roy Lynch, a Congressman from Mississippi mentioned earlier, had grown up as a slave until freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Within a decade, he had become Speaker of the House in Mississippi and later received presidential appointments from Republican Presidents Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley. Lynch was appointed an army officer during the Spanish-American War, earned a law degree, and was the Chairman of the Republican Party in Mississippi. He was a leader who served his State and nation well. Despite the serious racial problems of his day, Lynch’s love for his country was still very evident and reflected the patriotism still present among African Americans today:
I love the land that gave me birth; I love the Stars and Stripes. This country is where I intend to live – where I expect to die. To preserve the honor of the national flag and to maintain perpetually the Union of the States, hundreds – and I may say thousands – of noble, brave, and true-hearted colored men have fought, bled, and died. The Supreme Court prolonged segregation for a century by striking down early civil rights laws republican U. S. rep. john r. lynch.
Georgia Democratic Governor Marvin Griffin also attacked Eisenhower’s actions, and praised Arkansas Governor Faubus for his attempt to prevent blacks from entering Central High School. Governor Griffin promised that as long as he held office, he would “maintain segregation in the schools; and the races will not be mixed, come hell or high water.” To prepare for the possibility that Eisenhower might do in Georgia what he had done in Arkansas, legislation was introduced in the Democrat-controlled Georgia legislature so that if desegregation were attempted, the public schools of the State would be dissolved and replaced with State-run private schools so that Arkansas democrat governor Orval Faubus fought for segregation; republican president Dwight d. Eisenhower fought for integration blacks could be excluded. These types of schools became known as “segregation academies.” Meanwhile in Arkansas, Democratic Governor Faubus, unable to prevent black students from attending school because of the federal protection they received, simply shut down the schools for the next year to prevent further attendance. And Virginia Democratic Governor James Almond – like other southern Democratic Governors – shut down public schools rather than permit black students to attend.
In 1960 in Louisiana, where Democratic Governor Jimmie Davis supported segregation, 277 four federal marshals were required to accompany little Ruby Bridges so that she could attend a public elementary school in New Orleans. When Ruby entered that class, every other parent withdrew their children and for the entire year, little Ruby was the only student in that classroom – just Ruby and her schoolteacher from Boston.
So deep-seated was the racism among southern Democratic leaders that when the 1964 civil rights bill became law, Lester Maddox, who became Democratic Governor of Georgia, sold the fast-food business he owned rather than serve blacks in his restaurant. And in 1960, Mississippi Democratic Governor Hugh White had even requested democrat governor George Timmerman closed state facilities to evangelist Billy graham because graham included African Americans in his rallies that evangelist Billy Graham segregate his crusades 280 – something Graham refused to do. And when South Carolina Democratic Governor George Timmerman learned that Billy Graham had invited African Americans to a Reformation Rally at the State Capitol, he promptly denied use of the facilities to the evangelist.
This type of Democratic response against black Americans – and against the whites who supported them – was common across much of the South; and the reasons given by Democratic leaders to justify this disgusting behavior was simply, “States’ Rights” – the same rhetoric they had used a century earlier, first to justify slavery and the creation of a slave-holding nation and then to enact laws enforcing segregation and withholding voting rights from black Americans for the next eighty years after the Civil War. During the era of desegregation, in an effort to remake the image of racism so long and so properly associated with the southern cry of “States Rights,” southern leaders began to claim that the southern Confederate battle flag – the quintessential symbol of a perverted States’ Rights philosophy – was actually a symbol of heritage rather than hate. Consequently, many today wrongly – but innocently – believe that the battle flag of the South is about heritage and not about hate – something easily refuted by historical facts and documents.
Returning to the school desegregation situation, some southern Democratic Governors did work for integration – including Tennessee Governor Frank Clement, Florida Governor LeRoy Collins, and Kentucky Governor Happy Chandler – but the confederate flag IS about heritage, but it is the wrong kind of heritage democrat governors clement and chandler worked for integration these tended to be the exceptions among southern Democratic Governors rather than the rule, and their admirable behavior was clearly overshadowed by the negative behavior of the others.
David Barton tells us that according to the records for late November of 1800, Congress spent the first few weeks organizing the rooms, the committees, their loca john adams the records of congress commence in 1774 . Then, on December 4, 1800, Congress made an interesting decision: Congress decided that the Capitol building would also serve as a church building! 76
The use of this building as a church building is confirmed not only by the records of Congress but also by the diaries of those who served in Congress at the time. For example, while John Quincy Adams was a U. S. Senator, he recorded in his diary for October 30, 1803: Attended public service at the Capitol where Mr. Ratoon, an Episcopalian clergyman from Baltimore, preached a sermon. 77
The week before, he had written: [R]eligious service is usually performed on Sundays at the Treasury office and at the Capitol. I went both forenoon and afternoon to the Treasury. 78 Very few citizens realize that the Capitol building – as well as other government buildings – served as church buildings, but such was the case!
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This second plaque in the Small Senate Rotunda notes that on November 22nd, President John Adams delivered the first Presidential speech ever given in this building – a speech given to the first joint-session of Congress assembled in the original Senate Chamber. His speech was quite short, but in it, President John Adams offered his prayer for this city. According to the Records of Congress, John Adams prayed:
May this territory [Washington, D.C.] be the residence of virtue and happiness! In this city, may that piety and virtue, that wisdom and magnanimity, that constancy and self-government which adorned the great character whose name it bears, be forever held in veneration! Here and throughout our country, may simple manners, pure morals, and true religion flourish forever! 75 This is quite a prayer for Washington, D. C. – and for the nation – and it was a prayer which occurred in the room immediately behind the plaque – the original Senate Chamber now called the Old Supreme Court Chamber).
Another item of significance connected with this part of the Capitol is one of the first official acts of Congress. This occurred when our Founders moved into and first occupied this room and the adjoining chamber, and this action is recorded in the Annals of Congress.
David Barton explains that the records of Congress are required by the constitutional mandate of Article I, Section 5, ¶ 3, which requires that written records be kept of the proceedings in Congress. The Founders required this because they wanted government open, accessible, and accountable to the people.
With the congressional records, citizens, at any time, may read what our elected officials are doing and saying – or not doing and not saying – and then hold them accountable. Every debate and every vote which has taken place in Congress from 1774 to the present is recorded in these public records. And it is because of these records that we know exactly what happened when Congress moved into this building.
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