Recently, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said some things that surprised me. And they should surprise you as well. In an interview with Human Events, a conservative website, Barbour discussed growing up in an integrated, tolerant and inclusive South. In his opinion, it was the "old Democrats who had fought for segregation so hard." Speaking of the change in party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in the South, Barbour continued.
"The people that led the change of parties in the South, just as I mentioned earlier, was my generation. My generation, who went to integrated schools. I went to an integrated college. Never thought twice about it. It was the old Democrats who had fought for segregation so hard. By my time, people realized that was the past. It was indefensible, wasn't going to be that way anymore."
Barbour-- who is being touted as the most prominent Republican and the face of the GOP-- is head of the Republican Governors Association. In reality, Barbour was born under Jim Crow segregation and attended segregated public schools. He attended college with only a handful of black students. And he sent his children to Manchester Academy, one of the "segregation academies" established so that white parents could avoid sending their daughters to integrated schools, where they would undoubtedly date black boys. Manchester Academy did not integrate until 1996, when it admitted its first African-American student.
And while Barbour would have you believe that the Republican Party is such a dominant force in the South today because of its support of integration. But the reality is that the GOP inherited the segregationist mantle from the Dixiecrats. After President Johnson signed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts into law, the Democrats would lose the South for generations. Moreover, beginning with Nixon, the GOP employed a "Southern Strategy" to attract segregationist sympathizers and other disaffected whites from the Democratic Party. All of the talk about taxes, small government, welfare and the like were code for hating black folks.
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