Aug 24, 2013

Civil Rights Movement v. the Republican Party

Bus from Madison to D.C., 1963
Update: Just two months after five GOP justices gutted the Voting Rights Acts, Attorney General Eric Holder repeated his vow for federal protection of Americans' right to vote. "This morning, we affirm that this struggle must, and will, go on in the cause of our nation’s quest for justice - until every eligible American has the chance to exercise his or her right to vote, unencumbered by discriminatory or unneeded procedures, rules, or practices. It must go on until our criminal justice system can ensure that all are treated equally and fairly in the eyes of the law."

It is an incontrovertible fact today's racialized Republican Party is the blood enemy of the American Civil Rights Movement.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it is incumbent upon us to identify the enemy—not to demonize, not to disenfranchise and certainly not to murder; such is the way of the Fascist.

Rather, to live and transform with the power and dedication towards equality for all.

This is the way of A.J. Muste, Erwin Knoll, Bernard Lafayette, Russell, Seale, Huxley, Liuzzo, Betty Shabazz, Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner, Dellinger and Weiner; so many more.

As a young journalist I had the pleasure of speaking briefly with Martin Luther King III in 1989.

King  proved a brilliant, eloquent, and very kind man who said at the UW-Madison Memorial Union that eight years of the  "Reagan-Bush administration has had a devastating effect on race relations."

King also spoke later in the Humanities building about the moral imperative to always stand up for justice with nonviolence in that face of hate and dehumanization that finds home in the Republican Party.

Brave words from a brave man.

For King III, his murdered father was always part of a diverse movement which drew inspiration and leadership from all manner of people and figures in history.

Today, hate is alive and well drawing from the deep well of racism.

Racism lives in Ronald Reagan's infamous address on August 3, 1980 in Philadelphia, Mississippi at the Neshoba County Fair, in which Reagan railed on about "welfare queens" and "states rights," while not speaking one single word of honor recognizing the work and sacrifice of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. 

A generation inspired by Nelson Mandela worked to halt apartheid 
That's who Ronald Reagan is, as president the defender of South African apartheid and practitioner of American racism. That's Reagan's legacy.

By 1980, the Republican Party had been appealing to racists for 12 years using the "Southern Strategy."

Today, out of Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Tom Petri, James Sensenbrenner and every national Republican, the GOP takes up the torch of racist politics, proclaiming their efforts to obstruct the black and brown from voting, and not one Republican, not one, challenges the GOP voter obstruction project and continuing appeal to racism. Not one.

This weekend is our weekend, brought to us by the murdered, brutalized and the 10,000s of civil rights workers whose names we may never know.

At bottom, below this video are the words of one civil rights worker, out of Madison, Wisconsin.
Madison to D.C. 1963
I disagree with Mr. Quinn's red-baiting below (I recommend Paul Buhle's History and the New Left;Madison, Wisconsin, (1950-1970) and Jon Wiener's "Radical Historians and the Crisis in American History, 1959-1980," Journal of American History 76 (fall 1989), pp 399-434; "Rejoinder," pp 475-78; for more sober, fairer assessments); but Quinn's contribution in the 1960s reveals the broad front against the deadly fascist, American apartheid.
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By Patrick M. Quinn

...  In the fall of 1962, I joined the Socialist Club at the University. It was comprised mainly of Jewish students from New York. In my naiveté, it was only later that I learned that many of the members of the Socialist Club were clandestinely affiliated with or sympathetic to the Young Communist League or the Communist Party. Between 1962 and the summer of 1964, not much happened on the Left in Madison, but in 1964 the Civil Rights Movement in the South was heating up, especially after the murders of three Civil Rights workers—James Chaney (1943-1964), Andrew Goodman (1943-1964), and Mickey Schwerner (1939-1964)—near Philadelphia, Mississippi during the “Freedom Summer” voter registration campaign. I joined the Madison chapter of the Friends of SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, a Civil Rights organization based in the South. Friends of SNCC organized small rallies in Madison and held forums on Civil Rights topics at the First Congregational Church in Madison. Many members of the Socialist Club were also members of the Friends of SNCC. In June 1964 I graduated from the University of Wisconsin and enrolled in the UW graduate school. ...

In the early 1960s, students on the Left in Madison looked to three professors for leadership. One was Hans Gerth (1908-78), a German-born professor of Sociology who had been the mentor of C. Wright Mills at the University of Wisconsin in the 1940s; another was the famed professor of American history William Appleman Williams (1921-90), the author of the influential book, The Tragedy of American Diplomacy; and the third was professor of history George Mosse (1918-99), a refugee from Nazi Germany who was a liberal, and decidedly not a socialist. The legendary Marxist history professor Harvey Goldberg (1922-87), a brilliant, spell-binding lecturer, did not arrive at the University until the fall of 1963.

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