View Full Version : An Unsung Hero of Civil Rights

01-21-2014, 11:43 AM
This year America will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, a candidate for the greatest legislative accomplishment of the last century. We will recall the presidents who launched (J.F.K.) and landed (L.B.J.) this profound if incomplete attempt to repair the damage racism had done to our democracy and our humanity. We will esteem the leaders and martyrs of the movement that forced the issue onto our national conscience, including the man we honor on this holiday. We will recall, too, the Southern Democrats who stood — and stalled — in defense of segregation, and the Republicans who later capitalized on the outcome with a cynical appeal to white resentment. We will lament the current attempts by several states, with the Supreme Court’s blessing, to roll back the basic franchise promised in the Civil Rights Act (and reinforced by the Voting Rights Act the following year). And we will probably invoke the legacy of this great law many times as we debate the status of millions of undocumented residents and the rights of gay Americans.

Somewhere in all this worthy commemoration we should pause to pay homage to a conservative white Republican named William Moore McCulloch. Never heard of him? Neither had I. But there is a good case to be made that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would not have become law without him. And there is a very good case to be made that Washington desperately needs his example today.
McCulloch was a congressman from a rural, conservative district in west central Ohio. He was frugal with the taxpayers’ money, favored allowing prayer in schools and keeping the federal government out of them, voted against foreign aid and gun control. These views were sufficiently in sync with his constituents that voters re-elected him 12 times.

With a district that was 2.7 percent black, he had no political incentive to stick his neck out on something as contentious as civil rights. But McCulloch was descended from abolitionists, and had been appalled by his exposure to Jim Crow when he worked as a young lawyer in Florida. This fortified in him a strong belief that the blessings of the Constitution were not meant exclusively for white men, and that it was the highest duty of the federal government to secure those blessings for all.

Bill Keller
New York Times

more here:

01-21-2014, 12:21 PM
The Republican Party works diligently to revise civil rights history, who knows maybe Strom Thurmond will eventually be found to have supported civil rights.

Osborne Russell
01-21-2014, 12:24 PM
Right on. The exception proves the rule. The exception has ba**s, I mean, uh, what it takes.

West Central Ohio in the early 60's, hm . . . probably mostly solid Democrat and therefore Lefty and therefore racist, as Phillip Allen says; revealing it when Nixon came on with the Southern Strategy, which caused them to become Republicans, but the Republicans told them to stop being racist and that's why the Republican Party and its offspring the Tea Party aren't racist . . . must been that way! They switched to Republican because that party was less congenial to their racism. That's why the only racists left in America are Democrats and that's why Sarah Palin calls on Barack Obama to discipline his racist party.

Anyway, these West Central Ohio people were in the rust belt, so, as Landrith says, after their conversion, they scrammed for the Texas oilfields which was something the liberals wanted to obscure so they invented the hypothesis that there's something wrong with Kansas, i.e. . . .

. . . paradoxically, [Republicans] get the votes of many workers who are clinging so desperately to their jobs that they’re afraid of change and too cowed to make a ruckus.

. . . in order to conceal the fact that Republicans get the votes of many workers who are clinging so desperately to their jobs that they’re afraid of change and too cowed to make a ruckus.

Ian McColgin
01-21-2014, 12:46 PM
It would not hurt to actually read up on Rep McCulloch. In most respects a conservative Republican from a solidly conservative Republican district, he really was throughout his political career deeply for civil rights on conservative grounds. His important work is not part of today's revisionisticRepublicanism that has such little respect for truth. That's why they never mention McCulloch and never will present him truthfully if they do mention him.

Keith Wilson
01-21-2014, 12:51 PM
William Moore McCulloch deserves every bit of the credit the author gives him. There was a quite a bit of support for civil rights among moderate and liberal northern Republicans (yes, there were such things back then) 50 years ago. Neither the Republican nor the Democratic party of 1964 much resembled the parties of today with the same names.