Blacks "Gored" by a lie: Al Gore Sr., the GOP and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

By R.D. Davis
web posted June 1999

It is easy to control the minds of a people. All one has to do is change history by lying about the past. This is exactly what has happened with the legacy of former Democratic U.S. Senator Al Gore, Sr. of Tennessee - the father of our current vice president - and his mythical "support" of civil rights.

In a recent speech to the NAACP, Vice President Gore said his father lost his Senate seat because he supported civil rights legislation. Fellow black Americans, let me set history straight. Al Gore, Sr., together with the rest of the southern Democrats, voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Congressional Quarterly reported that, in the House of Representatives, 61 per cent of Democrats (152 for, 96 against) voted for the Civil Rights Act as opposed to 80 per cent of Republicans (138 for, 38 against). In the Senate, 69 per cent of Democrats (46 for, 21 against) voted for the Act while 82 per cent of Republicans did (27 for, 6 against). All southern Democrats voted against the Act.

In his remarks upon signing the Civil Rights Act, President Lyndon Johnson praised Republicans for their "overwhelming majority." He did not offer similar praise to his own Democratic Party. Moreover, Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen, an Illinois Republican, collaborated with the White House and the Senate leadership of both parties to draft acceptable compromise amendments to end the southern Democrats' filibuster of the Act. It was Dirksen who often took to the Senate floor to declare, "This is an idea whose time has come. It will not be denied." Dirksen's greatest triumph earned him the Leadership Conference of Civil Rights Award, presented by then-NAACP Chairman Roy Wilkins, for his remarkable civil rights leadership.

Inform yourself, so you can learn for yourself about this important historical event. All official records about the Civil Rights Act can be found in the June 1964 issues of Congressional Quarterly.

Al Gore, Sr. did not stop at simply voting against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition, Congressional Quarterly reported that Gore attempted to send the Act to the Senate Judiciary Committee with an amendment to say "in defiance of a court desegregation order, federal funds could not be held from any school districts." Gore sought to take the teeth out of the Act in the event it passed.

Ostensibly, Senator Gore was "elated" at the idea of young Al, Jr. going to school with black children. In reality, however, the future vice president attended an elite private school.

In the end, the Gore Amendment was defeated by a vote of 74-25. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, one of President Bill Clinton's political mentors, was among the 23 southern Democratic senators and only one Republican voting with Gore for this racist amendment.

Republican Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona voted against the Civil Rights Act because he was afraid the nation would be transformed into a "police state" as a result of some of its provisions. He did not want to throw out the proverbial "baby with the bath water." History, of course, labeled Goldwater a racist even though he voted against the Gore Amendment - an amendment devised to continue school segregation. If anyone in the Senate should be tagged as a racist, it should be those voting for the Gore Amendment. Why didn't history record Al Gore, Sr. and the other southern Democrats as racists?

At least civil rights activist Andrew Young was forthcoming about this oversight in his book An Easy Burden. Young wrote, "The southern segregationists were all Democrats, and it was black Republicans... who could effectively influence the appointment of federal judges in the South." Young noted that the best civil rights judges were Republicans appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower. Young admitted, "These judges are among the many unsung heroes of the civil rights movement."

History tends to unilaterally and falsely depict Republicans as racists when southern Democrats truly deserved this title. We now have southern Democrats as both President and Vice President. That would never be the case without the power of the lie and the liberal news media to alter people's impressions.

Lies can enslave men, but the truth shall set them free. I challenge you, the reader, to take the time to research the facts about our past in publications like Congressional Quarterly and An Easy Burden. Once you educate yourself, you can no longer be deceived by the fabulists. No longer will you be "gored" by a lie.

R.D. Davis is a member of the African-American leadership network Project 21 and a writer and radio talk show host in Huntsville, Alabama.

 

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