Had it not been for a Republican, there would be no Juneteenth, Civil Rights Bill or Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday. As African Americans celebrate February as Black History Month, there is history that Blacks never consider because it is a “best kept secret.” This is a secret the Arkansas and national Republican parties have done a poor job of revealing to African Americans. This should not be a best kept secret but should be the keys to open the doors of independent black thinkers.
Before there was a Civil Rights Bill, Republicans fought for Blacks and their freedom. Best Kept Secrets: During January, we celebrated the Emancipation Proclamation and the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Both days became law by the hand of Republicans. President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday and Abraham Lincoln the Emancipation Proclamation. If no Emancipation there would be no Juneteenth to celebrate. Therefore, why the majority of black folks think Republicans are bad and Democrats and good is a real mind bender.
Guess what, gentle reader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. Winthrop Rockefeller was a Republican, and the Rockefeller Foundation does a tremendous job helping African American communities across Arkansas and the nation, and this is a good thing.
President George W. Bush appointed more African Americans cabinet secretaries than President Clinton or President Obama. President Bush appointed the following: General Colin L. Powell; first African American male secretary of state; Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser and later first African American woman secretary of state; Roderick R.Paige, U.S. secretary of education; Alphonso Jackson, deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Claude Allen, deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Leo S. Mackay Jr., deputy secretary, Veterans Affairs; Larry D. Thompson, deputy attorney general, U.S. Department of Justice; and Stephen A. Perry, administrator, General Services Administration.
President George W. Bush also signed a bill to form the Presidential Commission to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The first major appointment of a Black American occurred when President Abraham Lincoln appointed Frederick Douglas, recorder of deeds of the District of Columbia.
Republicans were the first presidential administration to use federal troops to enforce public school desegregation with the 101st Airborne at Little Rock in 1957. That year, the first Civil Rights Law in 80 years was passed by Republicans.
In the U.S. Congress, Republicans sponsored and passed the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The amendments are sacred to African Americans, as they abolished slavery, granted citizenship and gave the right to vote to Black people.
Republican John D. Rockefeller was the first donor that helped begin and save the National Negro College Fund, and in 1881 opened Spellman College for women, in Atlanta, the first college for Black women.
Senator Edward Brooke was the third Black American to serve in the U.S. Senate. All three Black Americans before him were Republicans. On Aug. 5, 1968, Sen. Brooke became the second Black American to preside over a major party’s national political convention. The Reagan-Bush Republicans were the first to appoint black women to top positions at the White House. In 1984, the Republican-led Department of Education awarded $9 million to Tuskegee Institute to establish the Gen. Daniel James Aerospace Science and Health Education Center. No predominantly black institute of higher education in the nation offers a degree-awarding program in aerospace engineering, except Tuskegee.
Republicans do not believe in killing unborn babies; they believe in the traditional family between a man and woman and personal responsibility, lower taxes, being tough on crime, supporting the teaching of abstinence, and acknowledging our Christian heritage. These are issues that 99.9 percent of Republicans believe and many Blacks believe the same.
The Republican Party was the first major party in Arkansas to allow a Black, this writer, to serve as keynote speaker for its political convention. I served as keynote speaker for the Arkansas Republican State Convention held in Little Rock in 1990. I have heard African Americans say that there are few Blacks in the Republican and Tea Party; therefore they must be racist. Well, there are few whites in the NAACP. Does that make the NAACP racist?
This is Black History Month. I encourage Blacks to research and explore the history of African Americans in the Republican Party, but above all hold the Democratic Party to the same standard as the Republicans.
• • •
Jesse C. Turner is the pastor of Elm Grove Baptist Church in Pine Bluff.