By Corey Perry, Candidate for Oklahoma House District 44
Let me first say that I, Corey Perry, am a mere man granted life by the creator, GOD! I am not a man that is without flaws, but I strive to do good works. The greatest country in the world is America, and this country has been in existence for 239 years. Our country and the political parties that exist within our country are also not without flaws. That said, I would like to address ONE seeming misconception about the “party” I am a member of, the Republican Party. Over time and most recently with the announcement of my political endeavors, I have been presented with the question “how are you Republican and a black man, given the history of the party as it pertains to blacks in America?” Let me say this, I am a Republican because of my conservative values both socially and fiscally, there’s no in-between for me! The Republican party isn’t perfect, because it is a party made up of imperfect people, yet it is a party that strives to do good works that the PEOPLE believe are best for this country. I believe that other parties in this country believe and strive for the same, we just may be on different sides of an issue(s), it’s really that simple. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said in The Theologians Tale;… “Do thy duty; that is best; Leave unto the Lord the rest!”
Again, I concede that the Republican Party is NOT perfect, and there are many historical references that can be made about any party in this country to create any narrative one may choose. I would hasten those that may suggest that I am somehow out of touch with the overall historical relationship of the black community with the Republican Party over the 239 year history of this country to look again. If mere HISTORY alone is reason for OR against membership in a given party then I say we drop all parties because mistakes have been made by all. Since HISTORY is the reason my association is being questioned I thought I’d take the time to bring about a bit of enlightenment. Don’t worry, I’ve done the hard part of structuring this brief retort with a few ACTUAL historical facts regarding the Republican Party’s work for and with black AMERICANS, to include latino AMERICANS, and women in this country as well. The historical references that follow this response are not intended to represent a be-all end-all, but rather to represent a starting point for dispelling the misconception that based on mere historical factors of the Republican Party in this country, that I as a black man should be a Democrat by default and not associate myself with the Republican Party.
I welcome rebuttals of FACTUAL substance, opposed to emotion based rants and retorts. This is NOT a discussion of current economic, foreign, health, education, or even social reform policy and stances. This brief composition is to address the false notion that the Republican Party in it’s entire 161 year history out of the 239 year existence of this country has historically been diametrically opposed to any advancement of blacks in America. Regardless of what some believe the motives were behind the actions carried out and laws enacted, the Republican Party has taken the RIGHT stance and action time and time again on several occasions on behalf of all Americans and more specifically people of color in this country. What were the stances and positions of the other popular party that has been around 187 years out of the 239 year history of this country during the first century and a half from it’s inception? Historically speaking ALL people are flawed depending on the observer, thus, all parties must be flawed. There is no one size fits all approach to the many issues we face in this country and the world beyond. We MUST at all times draw a hard line and take a stand for what we each believe individually, but no one party is perfect, however, a fair assessment of THE party that blazed the trail of what we know as equality for all in this country should be given. We can discuss issues and policy at another time but this is about history. Yes, the Republican Party is in fact the party of Lincoln, Douglass, and Reagan, now you’ve got Perry!
The Highest Point in Washington, DC – 1863
In 1863, the statue atop the U.S. Capitol was hoisted into place. Among the onlookers was the African-American who made it, Philip Reid. Mr. Reid had been a slave until freed by the Republican Party’s DC Emancipation Act the year before. This law to free the 3,100 slaves in the nation’s capital was written by Senator Henry Wilson (R-MA) and signed by Republican President Abraham Lincoln. Every Democrat in Congress voted against it.
Thanks to the GOP, Philip Reid, a skilled metal worker, supervised the bronze casting process as a free man. The name of the statue? Freedom.
The First Hispanic Governor was a Republican – 1863
In 1863, Romualdo Pacheco was elected state treasurer of California, and then to the state legislature. In 1871, he was elected Lt. Governor. Four years later, the incumbent governor was elected to the U.S. Senate, making Pacheco the 12th Governor of California. Following his ten months in office, he won three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and then served as ambassador to Honduras and to Guatemala during Republican President Benjamin Harrison’s administration.
Republicans Freed the Slaves – 1864
At the suggestion of President Abraham Lincoln, RNC Chairman Edwin Morgan opened the 1864 Republican National Convention with a brief statement: “The party of which you, gentlemen, are the delegated and honored representatives, will fall far short of accomplishing its great mission, unless among its other resolves it shall declare for such an amendment of the Constitution as will positively prohibit African slavery in the United States.”
Abolishing slavery became part of the platform. Congressional Republicans passed the 13th Amendment unanimously – against nearly unanimous Democrat opposition – and it was ratified within the year.
Republicans Passed the 14th Amendment – 1866
The 14th Amendment guarantees due process and equal protection of the laws to all citizens. It enshrines in the Constitution provisions of the GOP’s 1866 Civil Rights Act. The original purpose of the 14th Amendment was to defend African-Americans from their Democrat oppressors in the post-Civil War South.
The principal author of the 14th Amendment was U.S. Rep. John Bingham (R-OH). In Congress, all votes in favor of the 14th Amendment were from Republicans, and all votes against it were from Democrats.
In 1868, the Republican Governor of New Jersey vetoed an attempt by the Democratcontrolled legislature to rescind the state’s ratification of the 14th Amendment.
Republicans Established the Buffalo Soldiers – 1866
In 1866, the Republican-controlled 39th Congress established the Buffalo Soldiers. A law introduced by Rep. Isaac Hawkins (R-TN) provided for six regiments of African-American troops. These soldiers, whom American Indians compared to the buffalos they revered, were posted to the frontier.
Buffalo Soldiers also fought honorably in the Spanish-American War and in the Philippines. The last of the Buffalo Soldiers died in 2005 at the age of one hundred eleven.
Republicans Established Howard University – 1867
In 1867, with the purpose of establishing an institution of higher learning for emancipated slaves and other African-Americans, Senator Samuel Pomeroy (R-KS) and Representative Burton Cook (R-IL) wrote the charter for Howard University, in Washington, D.C. Senator Henry Wilson (R-MA) introduced a bill to grant the charter, and the Republican-controlled 39th Congress soon passed it.
The trustees named their university for General Oliver Howard, who had championed it in Congress and served as its first president. He had served as commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau, the federal agency tasked with assisting emancipated slaves in the post-war South. General Howard would be president of Howard University from 1869 to 1874.
Republicans Passed the 15th Amendment – 1869
In 1869, the Republican-controlled 40th Congress passed the 15th Amendment, extending to African-Americans the right to vote. Nearly all Republicans in Congress voted in favor, though a few abstained, saying it did not go far enough. Nearly all Democrats in Congress voted against the 15th Amendment.
The 15th Amendment was ratified the following year, but using intimidation, poll taxes, registration fraud, and literacy tests Democrats prevented most African-Americans from voting for nearly a century.
Republican Opposition to Plessy v. Ferguson – 1869
Dissenting from the infamous Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896 – which declared “separate but equal” to be constitutional – Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote:
“Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”
A former Attorney General of Kentucky, Harlan was a two-time Republican nominee for governor before Republican President Rutherford Hayes appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The First African-American Senator was a Republican – 1870
Born a free man in North Carolina, Hiram Revels moved to Baltimore, where he became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. He served as a military chaplain during the Civil War. The end of the war found him in Mississippi, where he settled.
Hiram Revels began his political career, as a Republican, on the Natchez City Council. He then won a seat in the state senate. When the state was re-admitted to the Union in 1870, the legislature elected Revels to the U.S. Senate.
Republicans Outlawed the Ku Klux Klan – 1871
In 1871, the Republican-controlled 42nd Congress passed a Civil Rights Act aimed at the Ku Klux Klan. Guilty of murdering hundreds of African-Americans, this terrorist organization had also eradicated the Republican Party throughout most of the South. The law empowered the Republican administration of Ulysses Grant to protect the civil rights of the former slaves in federal court, bypassing the Democrat-controlled state courts.
The 1871 Civil Rights Act, along with the GOP’s 1870 Civil Rights Act, effectively banned the Klan and enabled Republican officials to arrest hundreds of Klansmen. Though the U.S. Supreme Court would eventually strike down most of the 1871 Civil Rights Act, the Ku Klux Klan was crushed. The KKK did not rise again until the Democratic administration of President Woodrow Wilson.
Republicans Passed the 1875 Civil Rights Act
On his deathbed in 1874, Senator Charles Sumner (R-MA) told a Republican colleague: “You must take care of the civil rights bill – my bill, the civil rights bill. Don’t let it fail.” In March 1875, the Republican-controlled 43rd Congress passed the most comprehensive civil rights legislation ever. President Ulysses Grant signed the bill into law that same day.
Among its provisions, the 1875 Civil Rights Act banned racial discrimination in public accommodations. Sound familiar? Though struck down by the Supreme Court eight years later, the 1875 Civil Rights Act would be reborn as the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
A Republican Wrote the 19th Amendment – 1878
In 1878, U.S. Senator Aaron Sargent (R-CA) introduced in Congress the proposed 19th Amendment, according women the right to vote. Over the next four decades, it was primarily the Democrats who would oppose the measure. Not until 1919, after the Republican Party won majorities in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, did Congress approve what would become the 19th Amendment
A Former Slave Chaired the 1884 Republican National Convention
An African-American former congressman, John Lynch, chaired the 1884 Republican National Convention. A speech seconding his nomination for the post marked the entrance onto the national stage of a 25-year old delegate named Theodore Roosevelt.
Lynch was born into slavery in 1847. After emancipation, he joined the Republican Party. At the age of 22, Lynch was elected to the Mississippi legislature. Within three years, Lynch became speaker of the state House of Representatives. In 1872, at the age of 25, Lynch was elected to the first of three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, making him one of the youngest persons ever to serve in Congress.
John Lynch was a delegate to five Republican National Conventions. He chaired the Mississippi Republican Party from 1881 to 1889 and was the Republican National Committeeman for Mississippi from 1884 to 1889. He later served in the Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley administrations.
The First Hispanic U.S. Senator was a Republican – 1928
Octaviano Larrazolo had three times run unsuccessfully, as a Democrat, for congressional delegate before joining the Republicans in 1911. Seven years later, he was elected Governor of New Mexico.
In 1928, while he was serving in the legislature, a vacancy occurred in the U.S. Senate. Larrazolo won the special election to fill the seat. He served for the last three months of the term, but did not run for re-election due to ill health.
The First Asian-American U.S. Senator was a Republican – 1938
Born in Honolulu to Chinese immigrants, Hiram Fong entered politics as an influential advocate for statehood. Running as a Republican, he won a seat in the territorial legislature in 1938, rising to House Speaker a decade later. When Hawaii became a state in 1959, Fong was elected one of the state’s first two U.S. Senators. He served three terms in the U.S. Senate, where he strongly supported civil rights legislation. Hiram Fong received votes for the presidential nomination at the 1964 and 1968 Republican National Conventions.
The Republican Party First Called for Ending Racial Segregation in the Military – 1940
In 1940, the Republican National Convention approved a plank in its platform calling for racial integration of the armed forces: “Discrimination in the civil service, the army, navy, and all other branches of the Government must cease.”
For the next eight years, Democratic presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman refused to integrate. Not until 1948 did President Truman finally comply with the Republicans’ demands for racial justice in the U.S. military.
A Republican Integrated the University of Mississippi – 1952
Elbert Tuttle became a leader of the Georgia Republican Party in the 1940s. In 1952, Tuttle was instrumental in securing the Republican presidential nomination for Dwight Eisenhower.
After first appointing him general counsel of the U.S. Treasury Department, President Eisenhower appointed Tuttle to U.S. Court of Appeals in 1954. Recognizing that Brown v. Board of Education was a “broad mandate for racial justice,” Tuttle ruled in favor of civil rights activists in a number of important cases. It was Judge Tuttle who, in 1962, ordered the University of Mississippi to admit its first African-American student, James Meredith.
A Republican Wrote the Brown v. Board of Education decision – 1954
In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. The author of Brown v. Board of Education was a Republican, Chief Justice Earl Warren.
Warren entered Republican politics in 1938 with his election as Attorney General of California. Four years later, he was elected Governor. Earl Warren delivered the keynote address at the 1944 Republican National Convention and was the GOP’s 1948 vice presidential nominee. President Eisenhower appointed him Chief Justice in September 1953. Instrumental in the appointment was Warren’s friend, Attorney General Herbert Brownell, a former chairman of the RNC.
Republicans Ended Racial Segregation in Little Rock – 1957
Just a few days after passage of the GOP’s 1957 Civil Rights Act, the Democrat governor of Arkansas ordered the National Guard to prevent the court-ordered racial integration of a public high school in Little Rock. Republican President Dwight Eisenhower refused to tolerate defiance of the federal judiciary. Under a plan suggested by his attorney general, the President placed the governor’s soldiers under federal control and ordered federal troops to the state, where they escorted African-American children to school.
Republicans were unfazed by the many Democrats, including John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, who criticized President Eisenhower for the action he took to uphold civil rights.
Republicans Passed the 1957 Civil Rights Act – 1957
During the five terms of the FDR and Truman presidencies, the Democrats did not propose any civil rights legislation. President Eisenhower, in contrast, asked his Attorney General to write the first federal civil rights legislation since the Republican Party’s 1875 Civil Rights Act.
Many Democrats in the Senate filibustered the bill, but strong Republican support ensured passage. The new law established a Civil Rights Division within the Justice Department and authorized the Attorney General to request injunctions against any attempt to deny someone’s right to vote. The GOP improved upon this landmark legislation with the 1960 Civil Rights Act.
Credit to Brown County, Indiana GOP