Not Eudora Again!
back at the Reader after an 8-year hiatus
Robin Washington of the
Duluth News Tribune called me in February to ask me about my latest snow
sculpture. An angry black motorist who had cruised past my house had
just called him up at the Trib to ask about it. The driver suspected the
elephant waving a confederate flag was intended as a dig. I assured
Robin, who is also black, that it most certainly was.
On March 4, 1861 the
Congress of the Confederate States of America adopted the Stars and Bars
as their secessionist nation’s official flag. On the same day Abraham
Lincoln, whose election provoked the secession, was sworn in as
President of the United States of America. Today’s “Party of Lincoln”
barely acknowledges their founding father, Stephen Spielberg
notwithstanding. That’s because Lincoln’s adversaries in the “Old South”
switched their political allegiance in the wake of the 1960’s Civil
They couldn’t stand
Democrats like Hubert Humphrey speechifying about escaping the
“ shadow of states'
rights “ to “…walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human
rights.” Meanwhile Republicans who were calculating the electoral
vote began pursuing a “southern strategy.” It worked wonders.
Last week the
Republican appointed majority of the Supreme Court overturned a portion
of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and released Southern States from Federal
scrutiny of their elections.
Leading the charge was
South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond an outspoken enemy of mongrelized
interracial children like the half-black daughter he secretly fathered.
When Strom died 50 years after becoming a Republican Senator, one of his
GOP colleagues eulogized him by saying that America wouldn’t have
suffered its current indignities if there had been a few more Thurmonds.
Thurmond was particularly vexed with one Supreme Court ruling from my
hometown. When I was four the Supreme Court handed down its most
important Civil Rights decision, Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education. It
was crafted by Chief Justice, Earl Warren, a former Republican Governor
of California. Not long afterward my Mother drove me by an “Impeach Earl
Warren” Billboard on the way to my swimming lessons at the local Howard
My swimming lessons
ended abruptly when HOJO’s management told my Red Cross instructor that
he had to stop teaching “colored” children in their pool. It upset their
white guests. My teacher built a pool in his own backyard and continued
teaching children of all colors how not to drown.
My Kansas family was
pretty exclusively Republican. My Grandfather Robb grew up next to an
escaped slave that he suspected had been castrated by his former
masters. Grandfather became a white officer in the 369th
Infantry Division in the 1st World War. Its black recruits
had enlisted in New York’s Harlem. They had been his neighbors in 1915
when he got his Master’s Degree in History from Columbia University
across the street from President and General Grant’s Tomb.
When I told Grandfather
that my 5th grade teacher had told my class that Ulysses S.
Grant was a “butcher” he minced no words. He told me that Grant was
Abraham Lincoln’s favorite General and that Grant saved the Union. He
did it with a lot of colored soldiers.
In the same vein I have
the text of a speech he gave explaining that black soldiers were the
equal of white soldiers. This was a question in some doubt when
President Truman, a darned Democrat, integrated the Military shoving
Strom Thurmond into the arms of the GOP.
Despite their century
old Constitutional right to vote Black American’s rarely voted in most
Southern States when I was a kid. Fellows like Stom Thurmond perfected
laws which denied the descendents of slaves the franchise. The South’s
politicians have passed that legacy on to today’s Republican Party. It’s
no longer just the South that erects barriers to vote. Poll taxes and
literacy tests have long been outlawed but today’s Republicans, north
and south, favor photo identity cards. I expect that they will demand
retinal scans in future elections.
That was another dig.
Harry Welty is a local
crank who also vents at