THE NADIR OF RACE RELATIONS
Some selected Excerpts from "Unless WE Tell It…It Never Gets Told!" for Black History Month.
To understand White America, You have to Understand a period called the NADIR OF RACE RELATIONS and understand the role slavery played. Talking about Slavery and Racism makes Whites and Blacks nervous. Then you have teachers, at all levels, who do not teach the truth about Slavery and Racism, and others who avoid talking about Slavery and Racism, because they want to soften the harshness of both subjects. To minimize the importance of Slavery and Racism, makes history White, not right. Racism arose in part as the rationale for slavery.
According to Black historian Rayford Logan, the Nadir of Race Relations was the period in the history of the Southern United States from the end of Reconstruction in 1877 through the middle of the 20th century, when Racism in the country was worse than in any other period after the American Civil War.
During the Nadir (1880-1950) textbooks started lying about Southern States' Secession, and Blacks lost most civil rights gains made during Reconstruction. Anti-Black violence, lynchings, segregation, legal racial discrimination, "taking" Black land, membership in the Klan rose to more than 5 million, and the wanton violence of white supremacy increased. One can make the case that the last fifty years have been another “Nadir of American Race Relations,” based on changes in the political landscape in the South that began during the Civil Rights Movement. Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement arose directly from the ashes of slavery and the Nadir to challenge the South’s long-undisturbed system of racial oppression after World War II.
According to journalist Bill Moyers, President Lyndon Johnson remarked, after he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, “We have probably lost the South for some time.” He was right. Republicans, their Racist Southern Strategy playbook at the ready, successfully exploited White America’s Racially driven fear to win political campaigns across the region. And with the Supreme Court's Racist Blessings, political Racism is on the move.
When Ronald Reagan kicked off his presidential campaign in 1980 he did so in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Yes: that Philadelphia, Mississippi! The Philadelphia, Mississippi, where twenty-one-year-old Black Mississippian James Chaney, and two white New Yorkers, twenty-year-old Andrew Goodman, and twenty-four-year-old Michael Schwerner, were brutally murdered for trying to register Blacks to vote. The Philadelphia, Mississippi, that most people in this country had never heard of until those senseless, racially motivated killings. The Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Reagan never spoke one word about the civil rights murders but did tell an overwhelmingly white crowd of his devotion to “states’ rights.” The Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Reagan sounded his racist dog whistle signal to Southern Democrats with the message that the Republican Party should be their home.
This was the Ronald Reagan who publicly stated that he would have voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act—the Ronald Reagan who would, as President, oppose the establishment of a federal holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and who signed the bill creating the holiday only after vast majorities in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate voted to pass it. Reagan gave new meaning to White American Racism and the code words of Racism.
In doing so, Reagan tapped into the scurrilous Republican political Southern Strategy, that now has a new life with Another Overt Racist sitting in the Oval Office. Racism then and Racism today, is still Racism.
The Struggle Continues!
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Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.