Hakeem JeffriesNow, in part, what we are seeing is connected to a historic backlash that has often occurred throughout this journey that we have been on here in America, that whenever we make significant progress, there is always a backlash amongst some in America who have got a problem with the fact that we have done things designed to be more consistent with our values of liberty and justice for all, equal protection under the law.

We know slavery was the original sin here in America. That was corrected in the aftermath of the North’s victory during the Civil War. We had the reconstruction amendments: the 13th Amendment, abolish slavery; 14th Amendment, equal protection under the law; 15th Amendment, the right to vote regardless of race. That was progress in America followed by the inevitable backlash.

The imposition of Jim Crow laws; a lynching epidemic; Black code, segregation, particularly through just the Deep South. Progress followed by backlash.

And then finally, in the 1960s, in an effort to create a more perfect union and address the unfinished business in America, you had the civil rights movement, anchored with the `64 Civil Rights Act, effectively ended Jim Crow; the `65 Voting Rights Act, giving African Americans in the Deep South, people of color throughout the country the right to vote, unimpeded from things like grandfather clauses, and poll taxes, and other types of shenanigans that people were practicing; the 1968 Fair Housing Act capped off the civil rights movement, followed by the inevitable backlash.

Richard Nixon ran a racist campaign, a southern strategy, designed to appeal to aggrieved Whites in parts of this country, particularly in the Deep South, ushered in an era of resistance to the progress that had been made, antibusing, antiaffirmative action.

And then, of course, we have got Barack Obama who was elected in what many of us viewed as an incredible step in the right direction. African Americans, having gone from the outhouse to the White House. Eight years of tremendous progress in moving this country forward, followed by the election of Donald Trump, a man who spent 5 years perpetrating the racist lie that Barack Obama was not born in the United States of America.

—Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–NY)

Congressional Black Caucus, House Floor, June 12, 2017

Historians: Rate or comment

Leave a Reply

Notify of