In 1941, FDR named South Carolina Sen. “Jimmy” Byrnes to the Supreme Court. Byrnes had led filibusters in 1935 and 1938 that killed anti-lynching bills, arguing that lynching was necessary “to hold in check the Negro in the South.”
“This is a white man’s country and will always remain a white man’s country,” said Jimmy. Harry Truman, who paid $10 to join the Klan, then quit, named Byrnes Secretary of State, putting him first in line of succession to the presidency, as Harry then had no V.P.
During the civil rights struggles of the ’50s and ’60s, Gov. Orval Faubus used the National Guard to keep black students out of Little Rock High. Gov. Ross Barnett refused to let James Meredith into Ole Miss. Gov. George Wallace stood in the door at the University of Alabama, to block two black students from entering.
Among the signers of the manifesto, which called for massive resistance to the Brown decision desegregating public schools, was the vice presidential nominee on Adlai’s Stevenson’s ticket in 1952, Sen. John Sparkman of Alabama.
Do you suppose those Southerners thought Adlai would be tougher than Ike on Stalin? Or did they think Adlai would maintain the unholy alliance of Southern segregationists and Northern liberals that enabled Democrats to rule from 1932 to 1952?
The Democratic Party was the party of slavery, secession and segregation, of “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman and the KKK. “Bull” Connor, who turned the dogs loose on black demonstrators in Birmingham, was the Democratic National Committeeman from Alabama.
In 1956, as vice president, Nixon went to Harlem to declare, “America can’t afford the cost of segregation.” The following year, Nixon got a personal letter from Dr. King thanking him for helping to persuade the Senate to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
In the 1966 campaign, as related in my new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority,” out July 8, Nixon blasted Dixiecrats “seeking to squeeze the last ounces of political juice out of the rotting fruit of racial injustice.”
Nixon called out segregationist candidates in ’66 and called on LBJ, Hubert Humphrey and Bobby Kennedy to join him in repudiating them. None did. Hubert, an arm around Lester Maddox, called him a “good Democrat.” And so were they all — good Democrats.
In Nixon’s presidency, the civil rights enforcement budget rose 800 percent. Record numbers of blacks were appointed to federal office. An Office of Minority Business Enterprise was created. SBA loans to minorities soared 1,000 percent. Aid to black colleges doubled.
When Johnson left office, 10 percent of Southern schools were desegregated. When Nixon left, the figure was 70 percent.
Richard Nixon desegregated the Southern schools, something you won’t learn in today’s public schools.