Melissa Harris-Perry Likens Perry's Use of Nat'l Guard to 1960s-Era Segregation

Melissa Harris-Perry Likens Perry's Use of Nat'l Guard to 1960s-Era Segregation

On her Saturday MSNBC program, Melissa Harris-Perry railed against those protesting the flow of unaccompanied illegal immigration children across the southern U.S. border.

She particularly took aim at Gov. Rick Perry’s use of his state’s National Guard at the border attempting to prevent that flow and drew a comparison to the use of the National Guard in the September 1957 to block the Little Rock Nine from entering Central High in Little Rock, AR by then-Gov. Orval Faubus (D-AR).

Partial transcript as follows:

If we looked at had history, we do indeed see where there are moments when children have been the catalyst that moved Americans to push beyond their own biases and borders — both national and racial. In May of 1963, the children’s crusade organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference brought more than 3,000 young people to the city of Birmingham, AL in a show of civil disobedience against segregation in the city.

Once Americans saw those images of children standing courageously against injustice, the tide of national public opinion took a pivotal turn in support of the civil rights movement’s cause. But we can’t embrace that moment of America’s moral fortitude without also owning the great moral failing to had it was responding because the children at the border have also been confronted with the hostility that is as old as the segregated South and just as American as the grace and charity of those to who have extended a hand of help.

And if we are to claim our history protecting vulnerable children, we must also grapple with our history of responding to them as a threat when their presence undermines an established order. As much as Americans rallied to the cause of the children’s crusade, it was also agents of the American state that were willing to attack them with armed officers, fire hoses, and police dogs when they challenge a deeply entrenched way of life in the South.

Rick Perry was preceded in his call to send armed troops to confront children by Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus, and he, of course, called the National Guard to stop the Little Rock Nine from their first day of school at Central High.

The presence of children on buses integrating Boston schools in 1974 didn’t stop white crowds from confronting them with slurs and threats of violence. Nor did it give pause to the adults who hurled objects and insults at 6-year-old Ruby Bridges on the day she became the first African-Americans child to desegregate an elementary school. And so when we look to children seeking safety at our borders and see instead an invasion to be defended against, a contagion to be contained or a drain on resources that we just don’t want to share – that is a side of history on which we are choosing to stand.

(h/t The Right Scoop)

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor