History Lesson

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was supported by 15+% more representatives both in congress and senate of which of the US political parties?

Under which US president did the percentage of African American students attending segregated schools decline by over 50% (from 70% to 18,5%)?

Who is the US president who campaigned and won under a call for a form of reparations for African Americans? This same president instituted affirmative action in hiring for black workers for the first time in history.

Maybe everybody here already knows all this but I just discovered it, so I’m sharing the joy. Chalk it up to an immigrant’s ignorance of the political history of the new country. I’m learning, though.

22 thoughts on “History Lesson”

  1. I’m not going to answer the questions, but I will critique the first. Post WWII, the Democratic party had two components — the mainstream party and the southern wing. The only reason the southerners were Democrats was a legacy of the Civil War — no Republican had been elected to office in the South since the end of the Reconstruction period in the 1870s. With Lyndon Johnson’s push for the Civil Rights Act (originally introduced by Kennedy), most southern Democrats voted against it, and, after passage, changed party affiliations to become Republicans. Gov. George Wallace (of “segregation now, segregation forever”) and Strom Thurmond (Senator from SC) were some of the leaders of the defection. Johnson himself was a “New Deal” Democrat from a poorer area of Texas who detested segregation.

    The mass defection led to a period when no Democrat candidates could be elected in the South. Local voting laws that deterred Black participation in elections helped maintain GOP control, although most were outlawed either by the Johnson’s Voting Rights Act or by Supreme Court action.

    GOP Senate leader Everett Dirkson (Illinois) backed the Act, winning the hatred of much of his party, and well as of the new Southern converts.

    So the question is misleading. Southern Democrats were racist, but racism changed parties after the passage of the Act.

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    1. It changed parties or it didn’t. I’m not seeing much evidence of one party being more racist than the other today. I see a lot of self-congratulation but little else.

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  2. Yes, this is old news to me, and should be to anyone born in America. However, in reality most people know little about history, so you’re ahead of the game. Vic provides additional context that’s important to know.

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  3. Here’s another misleading but true question: Did you know that eight U.S. Presidents in a row had all been in uniform during World War II?

    Do you know why it’s misleading?? 🙂

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      1. Presidents Eisenhower through George H. W. Bush had all been in military uniform during WWII. Carter was a cadet at the Naval Academy and didn’t graduate until 1946. Reagan wore a uniform only in war movies and in training films made for the military.

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      1. Also, I think that what Elizabeth Warren did is a lot worse in terms of racism than birtherism. Birtherism was about just one person. She stiffed and robbed a whole community.

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      1. The more things change…

        Nixon in 1972 was like Trump in 2016 (evil incarnate to certain portion of the electorate and they would rather crawl over razor wire soaked in acid than give him credit for anything good)

        The broader point here is the shift in political paradigm. During the New Deal era (roughly 1932-76) even Republican presidents governed like social democrats. After the rise to dominance of Reaganism-Neoliberalism even democratic presidents governed like hardcore neoliberals.

        The 1976-80 period was the core of the transition period when the democrats had a chance to take control of the realignment but didn’t (just as the republicans are doing everything to resist the current realignment).

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      2. Credit where credit is due MAINLY needs to go to the movements that got these things done. Johnson signed the civil rights bill but did not come up with it, I’d give him more credit for the great society programs. Reagan signed a bill that gave amnesty for almost 3M undocumented workers. He was an ur-neoliberalizer but nonetheless expectations for presidents then were less dictatorial than they are now, and Republican party hadn’t yet moved so far to right as it has now.

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        1. Reagan’s neoliberalism is precisely the reason why he signed the agricultural amnesty bill. Neoliberalism is for unrestricted flows of capital, labor, information. That’s its basis. Back then, Republicans were the main allies of neoliberalism. Today, they are still allies but not to the extent Democrats are.

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            1. Exactly! Bill Clinton was as neoliberal as they come. I don’t hate him like I do Reagan but it’s undeniable that he was an unabashed champion of global capital. We haven’t had an anti-neoliberal president since neoliberalism came into existence, and that’s simply a fact.

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              1. I really regretted voting for Clinton in 1992 and voted for Nader for 2 cycles after that. People hate me for this, although in a practical sense it’s symbolic since in 1996 I lived where Democrats won by a very large margin and in 2000, Rebublicans. But dayum, when this is all the Democrats have to offer…

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