In a sweeping and stirring oration on the floor of the House of Representatives, Rep. Allen West (R-FL) proudly recounted the Republican Party’s long history of fighting for black freedom against the Democratic Party’s history of racism and oppression.
Rep. West’s speech offered a timeline of Republican Party victories on behalf of African Americans’ long battle for equality. From the elections of the first black members of Congress (Sen. Hiram Revels (R-MS) and Rep. Joseph Rainey (R-SC)), to the adoption of the 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment, 15th Amendment, 1875 Civil Rights Act, 1957 Civil Rights Act, 1964 Civil Rights Act, and of course the Emancipation itself, Rep. West recounted how each victory was the result of the Republican Party’s commitment to freedom for all citizens, regardless of hue.
Rep. West’s oration marking Black History Month also placed his own election in the pantheon of Republican victories on behalf of African Americans:
In some ways, Mr. Speaker, I carry the torch of Josiah Walls. You see, in 1876, the Democrats contested his election and had him replaced midterm with one of their own. No black Republican would again be elected from Florida to this House until November 2, 2010, when the voters of that State entrusted me to be their Representative.
Rep. West also recounted the victories of GOP luminaries like President Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, President Dwight Eisenhower, and Sen. Everett Dirksen.
Mr. Speaker, Republicans were unfazed by the many Democrats, including John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, who criticized President Eisenhower’s decision. Meanwhile, it was the Democrats in the Senate who filibustered the first civil rights act of the 20th century and the Republicans who managed to pass it nonetheless. The law established a Civil Rights Division within the Justice Department and authorized the Attorney General to request injunctions against anyone attempting to deny a person’s right to vote. It was written at the behest of President Eisenhower after a long drought of civil rights bills under Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and President Harry Truman.
It was a Senate minority leader, Everett Dirksen, a Republican, who helped write the first Civil Rights Act of 1964, widely regarded as the most influential of them all. And in recent years, it’s been the Republican Party that has fought to prevent African Americans from being trapped in a permanent underclass through dependence on government handouts.
In the speech’s moving peroration, Rep. West closed his remarks by reaffirming the Republican Party’s commitment to conserving the dignity of every human life, regardless of position or color.
With a core belief in the supremacy and the sovereignty of the individual and the unconditional dignity of every human life, the Republican Party is, always has been, and forever shall be the party of equality of opportunity. Happy Black History Month.