In the aftermath of the November 2010 election I found myself wondering about a statement that I kept hearing: in 2010 there were more Black Republicans running for office in the South than at any time since Reconstruction.
I think that we have arrived at a moment when we need a ‘time out.’ Let’s be very clear on a few things. The Black Republicans who ran for (and won) office during the period of Reconstruction (1865-1877) were, by and large, individuals who were fighting to expand democracy, including the rights of the poor. They were fighting against any and all forms of racist oppression. These were individuals, for instance, who fought for the introduction of free public education, but also in many cases, for the rights of workers. These were not individuals who sided with the rich and the powerful, but they were those who saw in Reconstruction a moment in the history of the USA when democracy could come to represent more than a platitude.