"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."
- Sen. Trent Lott, 2002

"I have done more for black people than any other person in the nation, North or South." - Sen. Strom Thurmond, 1988

Strom Thurmond has already done all the evil he can do. But he has not yet done any good, because he still breaths.

Trent Lott hopes that the furor will soon pass away as usual, forgotten like yesterday's racist outrage, and the one the day before that, and so on, the past and future stretching to an infinity of forgetfulness.

How strange and utterly illogical are the thought processes of white American racists. They are insane. The oppressed and dispossessed are urged to put the past behind them, when the present holds no promise but a return to past injustice. The Trent Lotts remind us so, daily, in ways big and small. Three times in 20 years he has shouted without fear of reproach that he desires a return to Mississippi lynch law, rule by terror. If that is not what he meant, then it must be assumed that Trent Lott has forgotten what every Black person from Mississippi remembers and every American who can read has learned.

Good memories are our best defense against men like him. Of no use whatsoever are the likes of J.C. Watts, the retiring Black Republican Congressman from a white district in Oklahoma. He, too, is insane, an undiluted, reflexive Uncle Tom who cannot even begin to speak without projecting himself into the thought patterns of... insane white racists! (And we do not use the term Uncle Tom lightly in these pages.)

"We should not trivialize the issue of race for political gain," said the fool, who was right without a clue as to why. Watt meant that Blacks and opponents of racism should not take any action or draw any conclusions from Trent Lott's plainspoken words. If anyone wondered how this particular Black man became a leader in the Republican Party, they should now understand.

However, without intending to, Watt spoke the truth. We should not trivialize race, not for a second while Trent Lott lives and Strom Thurmond refuses to die. Lott and Thurmond never trivialized race. In Mississippi and South Carolina, race is all that there is, especially for politicians of the White Man's Party.

Privilege and terror

We will now remind the reader of something you have either been urged to forget, or were never allowed to learn. When Trent Lott was born in Grenada County, Mississippi, in 1941, and when Strom Thurmond polluted the air with his first breath, on a sorry day in 1902, both babies emerged as members of a white minority in their home states and counties. They entered a world in which terror alone preserved white privilege and power. Democracy meant Black rule. Rule of law encouraged democracy. Lynch law meant white Power. White people never forgot that fire and rope were the underpinnings of their "way of life" - certainly not in Edgefield, South Carolina, 1902.

The 1900 census revealed that Black South Carolinians outnumbered whites by almost three to two, 58.4% to 41.1%. Twenty years earlier, in 1880, African Americans comprised 60.7% of the population - the highest proportion in the state's history. There would be no white majority census until 1930.

In the lowland plantation counties of South Carolina, whites were often downright scarce. Yet even among the gently rolling hills of Edgefield County Blacks made up 71% of the local population when heads were counted two years before James Strom Thurmond's birth.

Strom's father was a violent politician-lawyer who shot a white man dead in 1897 for calling him a "low, dirty, scoundrel." As a post-Reconstruction Democratic politician in Black majority South Carolina, Will Thurmond would have been expected to lead the mobs that kept African Americans in their place. The "low, dirty, scoundrel" may have killed any number of today's Black citizens' great grandfathers and mothers. Hell, that was good politics. Will Thurmond even got away with killing his white man, and in 1915 was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of South Carolina by President Woodrow Wilson (who was busily segregating the federal civil service in Washington.)

The 1920 census showed Blacks still in the majority statewide, at 51.4%, and in the high 60s among Edgefield County residents. If politicians like the Thurmonds, elder and younger, had had to compete with their African American neighbors for offices and patronage - puff! - way of life, gone. Yet we are asked to concede that young Strom must have been blessed with a brilliant political mind to gain election to the Edgefield County school board in 1924 at the age of 22 - the youngest local office holder ever. What nonsense! He was the son of the U.S. Attorney who shot opponents and got away with it. More importantly, he was a white man who did not have to compete with the two of every three Edgefield citizens who were Black.

Where white minorities rule under - for whites - democratic conditions, whether in South Africa or South Carolina, the election issue is always white power: keeping it, and making sure that the powerless Blacks pay for white privileges, literally. When white people, or idiots like J.C. Watts, praise successful white politicians for winning the support of white voters under a regime of racial rule, they are complimenting the system as much as the man. Persons not drunk who fail to understand this logic are, by definition, insane racists (or related to J.C. Watts.)

In 1929, at the age of 27, Thurmond is elected superintendent of schools. It was his privilege to impose segregation and servility upon Black children, and to do so as cheaply as possible. According to the 1930 census, Black still made up 63.5% of Edgefield County but, for the first time since the early 1800s, whites were a majority statewide, at 54.3%. The 1920s had been the worst decade ever for Black South Carolinians; more than one out of ten left the state, mostly for the North.

Economic models do not begin to tell the tale of exodus. In times of distress, such as the agricultural depression that swept the South years before the 1929 stock market crash, it is the job of the white politician to ensure that whites do not suffer excessively. The burden of deprivation is borne by Blacks, in every aspect of daily life. Those who complain are jailed, shot, burned or, mercifully, run out of town.

Schools superintendent Thurmond would have had to take care of a growing proportion of white students claiming a higher percentage of the budget for their premium, white minority educations. He must have done a good job of squeezing the last drop from the Black schools budget, because Thurmond was elected to the state Senate in 1933, became a circuit court judge in '38 and governor in 1946.

The publishers of hate Strom Thurmond and every Dixiecrat, past and present. The fantastic excuse that is offered to paper over every racist crime, that the offenders were simply "men of their times," can only make sense to minds crippled by the American Mental Disease. Politicians are the people who shape the times! They lead the mobs, or assure the rabble that the police will do the job quicker. One could as easily say that Hitler was a man of his times.

A murderous way of life

Grenada, Mississippi is 58% Black in 1941, according to the previous year's census. Trent Lott is born into a white minority county in a white minority state - although the statewide margin is thin and African Americans are leaving in droves, pulled west and north by defense industry jobs and pushed out by the mechanization of farming.

Lott claims that his father had been a sharecropper, but nothing said by that degenerate can be taken at face value. If true, the overwhelming likelihood is that Lott Sr. would have clung even more tightly to his white political status in the minority-ruled state. White rule spawns violent rednecks, not the other way around - another simple truth that is evident on its face, but beyond the grasp of the white racist American mind.

Trent Lott is seven years old when the signs go up, signaling the Strom Thurmond Dixiecrat rebellion. Thanks to his white education, the future Senator knows how to read, and his father can explain the message:

A vote for the Truman electors is a direct order to our Congressmen and Senators from Mississippi to vote for passage of Truman's so-called civil rights program in the next Congress. This means the vicious FEPC - anti-poll tax - anti-lynching and anti-segregation proposals will become the law of the land and our way of life will be gone forever.

Paid for by the Mississippi State Democratic Party

Nothing could be plainer. Strom Thurmond was running to preserve the poll tax, segregation and the right to lynch Black people at will. There were no subtexts, no hidden meanings. Everybody knew the deal.

Certainly, 21 year-old budding politician Trent Lott knew what his fellow students were rioting about at the University of Mississippi, in 1962, when a lone Black man threatened to despoil white privilege. Lott now claims he worked to calm passions as the National Guard protected James Meredith from lynching. Yet, thirty years later, in 1992, Lott is enflaming the renamed White Citizens Council in Greenwood, Mississippi, spouting the same words of incitement that he would repeat at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party, last week.

White rule is Trent Lott's alpha and omega, his only message, the same banner held high by Strom Thurmond and for which he is "beloved." It is the subtext of every speech made by Republicans in the South - language that is plain enough to keep the GOP in power in most of the region as the White Man's Party.

Ethnic cleansing

Edgefield, South Carolina is only 41% Black, now, and the statewide total is barely 30% - half the proportion that existed when Thurmond was born. Having relentlessly starved and cheated and beaten and terrorized and displaced African Americans, generation after generation, Thurmond can retire safe in the knowledge that white power is intact in his state and county. The descendants of the Black majority of his youth and middle age are scattered to the winds, a Diaspora within the Diaspora.

Trent Lott will not give up a damned thing. The Black majority in the Mississippi county of his birth, Grenada, has shrunken to 41%. Statewide, Blacks make up 36% of the population, a great demographic slide from their 1940 majority. The Trent Lotts and Strom Thurmonds of Dixie accomplished their ethnic cleansing and emerged as 21st century national leaders and, in Thurmond's case, near-saints.

The terror of white rule in the South - reaching unspeakable levels of savagery in those regions in which whites were the minority - had nothing to do with petty prejudices, archaic traditions, or failures of communication. Nobody white or Black thought so at the time. Yet Lott's threats against Black people in the present - and his statements are threats - are treated as gaffs, disturbing because they might prompt people to remember inconvenient facts.

The whites of Mississippi who rallied to Thurmond's cause in 1948 need not have worried that their way of life might "be gone forever."

It is not gone. Trent Lott exists.

If whites want us to forget the past, they should shoot Trent Lott. That would be a start.

NAACP Statement calling for Lott's resignation

Listen to Thurmond's 1948 campaign speech

See the Mississippi 1948 campaign literature.
(Read near the bottom left)


Links courtesy of the NAACP


Your comments are welcome. Visit the Contact Us page for E-mail or Feedback.

Click here to return to the home page






Bookmark and Share
Issue Number 20
December12, 2002



If someone passed along to you make sure you visit the Free Sign Up page.

Don't miss anything!


Commentaries in this issue:

Commentary 1
America’s Black Rightwing Forum: The grotesque devolution of a Black news program - by BC co-publishers Glen Ford and Peter Gamble

Unemployment Ravages Blacks... States going broke... Lights get dimmer at BET

Pirates at the helm... SATs spell doom for Blacks... Certified Black "intellectuals"... AIDS cure hidden?

Selling Sloppy Statistics. By Tim Wise

Commentaries in Issue 19 December 5, 2002:

Commentary 1
Rule of the Pirates: The $200 billion payday

Commentary 2
College SATs Incompatible with Black Mobility: Abolish the racial tyranny of the tests

Feast of the Parasites... Don’t feed the English... Murderous Frog Rising

Guest Commentary 1
Harvard: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Institution. by Shelton Amstrod

Guest Commentary 2
AIDS - Discrimination is Deadly. by Salih Booker

You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety by going to the Past Issues page.