We once taught our students that the Republican Party was the party of emancipation, racial integration and freedom for all. We may still teach these important facts, but I have had a difficult time lately finding many people who truly know this history.
Abraham Lincoln was our Republican president during the Civil War, which saw a total of 360,222 Union troops killed fighting to preserve the Union and end the atrocity of slavery and 258,000 Confederate troops killed fighting to secede from the Union and retain slavery. Democrats and the Confederacy were dominant in the south and Union Republicans were dominant in the north. When the bloody battle was won by the Northern Union, 620,000 American soldiers had lost their lives. Soon after the conclusion of the Civil War, the 13th Amendment was ratified, abolishing slavery on December 6, 1865.
Reconstruction followed the Civil War, and coupled with the 15th Amendment (ratified on February 3, 1870), forbade the denial or abridgement of the right to vote on account of race, color or condition of servitude. On January 25, 1870, the first African American senator was Republican Hiram Rhodes Revels, who was certified to the U.S. Senate representing Mississippi. Senator Revels was the first African American in Congress, but he was quickly joined by African American Republican congressmen Benjamin Turner (Alabama), Robert DeLarge (South Carolina), Josiah Walls (Florida), Jefferson Long (Georgia), Joseph Rainey (South Carolina) and Robert Elliott (South Carolina). The Republicans represented the party of Abraham Lincoln and of emancipation.
Republican President Dwight Eisenhower supported Brown vs. the Board of Education, which was tied to the 14th Amendment, declaring all laws establishing segregated schools to be unconstitutional, and it called for desegregation of all schools. He also issued Executive Order 10730, federalizing the Arkansas National Guard to protect the African American students (known as the Little Rock Nine) during integration on September 23, 1957.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed with 82% of the Republicans backing the law in the House and 94% of the Republicans in the Senate compared to 78% of the Democrats in the House and 73% in the Senate.
I bring you this historical summary of the Republican Party because I found it fascinating that once again my party had the ability to make history. On May 1, 2019, the Republican Caucus made it known through our leadership that as a small but influential minority, we would once again enthusiastically support an African American man or woman for the next Maryland speaker of the House. We came to this decision not based on one’s race, creed, color or other identity types. We made this decision based on the character of the individuals and our core Republican beliefs that we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord. We have all been blessed with unlimited individual potential and unique gifts that can develop beyond even our own expectations. We all yearn for freedom and flourishment, and I am proud that I had the freedom to be a part of history by electing the first African American and female speaker of the House in Maryland.
The future writers of history may tell you that this would have happened in May 2019 regardless of the Republicans’ support in the minority party. Those of us Republicans inside the walls of the Maryland State House can rest comfortably knowing the true facts that produced this result and played vital to this election.
This is a small sample of what I wrote on Facebook that I felt summarized the latest election to the speaker of the House.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
The Bible quote above best encapsulates the actions and sacrifices by both Speaker Adrienne Jones and Delegate Dereck Davis. They both demonstrated bold, selfless sacrifices that showed character and integrity. First by Adrienne Jones by withdrawing from consideration earlier in the week and throwing her support behind Delegate Dereck Davis, which would assuredly make him the next speaker of the House. Secondly by Dereck Davis for selflessly yielding back to the new speaker of the House, Adrienne Jones, for what I assume was harmony in his Democratic Caucus. There are many things about that day I may never fully understand, but I will always be proud to have been a part of it and to witness history. I am not sure what the future holds for the workings of the House from my minority party seat, but regardless of the outcome, both Adrienne Jones and Dereck Davis earned a tremendous amount of additional respect from me.