Democratic Party Unkind to Blacks

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 17, 2003 | Go to article overview

Democratic Party Unkind to Blacks


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

For years, the Democratic Party his portrayed itself as the friend of blacks and other racial minorities in America. Its leaders and supporters have proven adept at the art of historical sleight of hand, as they have convinced the vast majority of blacks with overwhelming success that they are civil-rights champions.

However, the "Information Age" has ushered in a new era of awareness for those who seek it, as the ubiquity of the Internet has delivered volumes of historical data right to one's fingertips. With this awareness, comes a new view on the Democratic Party's true relationship to America's black population.

To date, only four blacks have ever served in the United States Senate. The first two, Sens. Hiram Revels and Blanche K. Bruce, were elected in Mississippi to the U.S. Senate in the 1870s, and both were Republican. The third was Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, also a Republican, who served two full terms from 1967 to 1979. Finally, in 1992, Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, the only Democrat, was elected to represent Illinois, and became the first black woman to serve in this capacity.

Additionally, in 1870, Joseph Hayne Rainey, a Republican from South Carolina, was the first black to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Prior to the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, blacks primarily voted Republican by the margins in which they vote for Democrats today. However, FDR's "New Deal" programs, which turned out to be a raw deal particularly for blacks, inveigled the black electorate into a Democratic voting trend that has yet to cease.

As part of the "New Deal," the Agricultural Adjustment Act was established which reduced crop production, and forced many blacks out of farming. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) / Wagner Act was established, granting the right of existence to labor unions, who often excluded blacks.

The "New Deal" also established the national minimum wage, which has directly contributed to the 36 percent unemployment rate among black teens in America. As late as 1954, the unemployment rate for black teenage males ages 16 and 17 was still below that of their white counterparts: 13.4 percent vs. 14 percent.

Beginning in 1956, when the minimum wage was raised from 75 cents to $1, unemployment rates for the two groups began to diverge. By 1960, the unemployment rate for black teenage males rose to just under 23 percent, while the white rate remained below 15 percent. By 1981, the unemployment rate for black teenage males averaged 40.7 percent, fourfold its early 1950s level, when the minimum wage was much lower with less extensive coverage.

The issue of civil rights proved extremely contentious and divisive for the Democratic Party, when in 1948, a group of Southern Democrats who opposed integration and wanted to retain Jim Crow laws and racial segregation broke from the party to form the States' Rights or Dixiecrat Party.

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