My entry into the southern civil rights struggle of 1960 was both deliberate and a divergence. At the time, I was a young adult, born and raised in Harlem, New York who chose to attend college in then-volatile Atlanta, Georgia.
Coming from a Christian home and a black nationalist environment of street speakers and book stores, going south for me at that time was, indeed, revolutionary.
Harlemites railed about racism down south but despised southern civil rights techniques and leadership. Some even accused southern black leadership of being “counter revolutionary.”
We know so much about Kennedy, Johnson and civil rights legislation, but little or nothing of the actual effect of black voter registration in the South from 1964 onward.
There were many gleeful black church meetings in those days after successful voter registration drives, so many black folks were able to register for the first time in their lives. And guess what? In every southern state, blacks were advised to register as Democrats.
In fact, the South was so solidly Democratic that Republicans had no chance until the 1970s, when Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” flipped the white southern majority vote to the Republican Party.
So beginning in the mid-1960s, southern blacks went to the polls in droves, many to vote for the first time. And they were told to vote the Democratic ticket down the line. The next nightmare was ready to begin. Black people voted for the very same faction that had been their state and local oppressors since slavery!
During black Reconstruc-tion of the late 1860s through 1880s, blacks registered and voted Republican, until the black codes were instituted, virtually disallowing southern blacks the right to vote.
Since 1980, the Republican Party has given lip service to a stated desire to include blacks in the party. Today, black Republicans are mostly marginalized or ignored by party leaders at the county, state and national levels.
The McCain campaign solicits funds from black Republicans but has no known agenda inclusive of their input. Florida’s Republican Gov. Charlie Crist has lost most of his black support, and state party chair Jim Greer is thought to be outlandish and paternalistic.
There are blacks, however, who have become such indoctrinated neo-conservative ideologues, that they would argue against Barack Obama with such fervor that a listener could conclude there is dislike for Obama because he is black, not just because he is so-called “liberal.”
What is it about John McCain’s character, values and career that could sway a black Republican to not vote for Obama? For me, you’ve got to take the war hero stuff off the table, until America recognizes the black Army and Marine prisoners of war who fought many months in Viet Cong jungles before being captured and tortured for years. Where are they, America? Huh?
McCain attended segregated schools in segregated Alexandria, Virginia during the 1940s and 50s. He grew up in the Episcopalian church and graduated from an Episcopalian high school. McCain’s grandfather and father graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and both men became admirals in the U. S. Navy.
John McCain did not have the academic acumen of his forebears, but because of them he was accepted into the U. S. Naval Academy and graduated in 1958, fifth from the bottom of his class. While in the Naval Academy, he constantly violated expellable rules – exhibiting serious character flaws, but he was treated differently from other cadets.
McCain is a Washington insider, so his well-known years as a womanizer are quashed. But when he returned from more than five years as a prisoner of war to a wife who had waited for him, he cheated on her with numerous affairs. They divorced, and McCain remarried in 1980.
Oh, yes, and McCain the Episcopalian is suddenly — as of 2007 — a Baptist. You see, McCain wants to be president, so he needs the evangelical right wing of the Republican Party. While campaigning in heavily Baptist South Carolina last September, McCain said he was a Baptist. McCain told the press that he has attended the North Phoenix Baptist Church in Arizona for over 15 years. (He has never been baptized in that church, however!)
Look, I could go on, but here’s the thing: Vote for the brother, not because he’s black, but because he’s right. Don’t be an ideologue. Think for yourself and for the future.