Betrayed: A History of Presidential Failure to Protect Black Lives

Betrayed: A History of Presidential Failure to Protect Black Lives

Betrayed: A History of Presidential Failure to Protect Black Lives

Betrayed: A History of Presidential Failure to Protect Black Lives

Synopsis

In this timely and eye-opening book, noted political analyst and media commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson traces the root cause of the White House's failure to protect the rights of African Americans. Drawing extensively from public and private presidential papers, private correspondence, personal interviews, and national archive documents, Hutchinson gives a rich historical account of the racial philosophy, policies, and practices of successive presidents from Warren G. Harding to Bill Clinton. Franklin D. Roosevelt is one example. The popular view is that Roosevelt was a friend to blacks because of his enactment of New Deal programs. But he was also a prisoner of the biased racial thinking of his times. He refused to actively support antilynching legislation and repeatedly curried political favor with racist southern Democrats. Lyndon B. Johnson is yet another example. He is known as a champion of civil rights, but Hutchinson details two crucial moments when Johnson shrank from using the full force of executive power to push Congress to enact new and tougher federal criminal civil rights statutes to punish racist violence. In this book, Hutchinson reveals that no American president has ever signed into law a federal antilynching bill despite a fifty-year campaign by the NAACP for presidential and congressional action. He documents how Nixon, Reagan, and Bush rolled back civil rights and affirmative action, failed to fully enforce equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment against police abuse and racial violence, encouraged conservative legal obstructionism, and fueled the rise of a repressive domestic security state. These actions in turn have reinforced institutionalized racism and continued the historical pattern of devaluing black lives in law and public policy. Finally, Hutchinson warns that the century-old failure by the White House to enforce federal law to protect black lives still has dangerous consequences for American society.
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