today in black history

July 17, 2024

The Port Chicago incident occurred in 1944 when Black Navy ammunition handlers were killed in a violent explosion at the California base.

The GOP, the new White Citizens Council

POSTED: May 13, 2021, 9:00 am

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At the height of the Jim Crow era, the Ku Klux Klan were the shock troops of White supremacy. The Klan regularly engaged in acts of violence against Blacks to instill fear and psychologically terrorize Black families. Lurking in the shadows were agents of oppression who disguised their racism behind a façade of respectability. These were the bankers, teachers, business owners, judges and law enforcement officers who made up the White Citizens Councils of southern communities. It was the White Citizen Council that controlled the institutional levers of power and systemically oppressed Black people. For every cross the Klan could burn, the White Citizen council could cause harm 10 fold by denying Blacks the right to register to vote, denying Black neighborhoods infrastructure improvements, engaging in predatory lending, and discriminating against Black children in public education. White Citizen Councils inflicted far more pain upon Blacks than the Klan ever could.

History is now repeating itself and following the script from Jim Crow. Groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers now occupy the space the Klan once held as White terrorist agents. Their intention is to implant a subliminal message into the consciousness of Black people by physical force, presenting the appearance of patriots, as the Klan once did, willing to use violence to uphold the supposed values of the United States. These groups engage in chauvinistic ritual, the bearing of arms and military attire, to convey the message that White supremacy will out harm, out kill and out last any claims Black and brown people make as legitimate citizens of the United States. Today’s White shock troops are girded by a Republican Party that has fully embraced its role as the new White Citizen Council. Behind the bravado of patriotism and anchored in a narrative of Black inferiority and inhumanity, the GOP is working to use the levers of government to permanently impose a racial caste system in America. Taking a page from the past, the Republican Party is doing so in concert with groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers because the dehumanization of a people is the first step toward gaining total control. Much like the racists of the Jim Crow era who were aided by an equally racist southern press, today’s White supremacists have a sympathetic media wing in the likes of the Fox News Channel, One America News and Newsmax, and a plethora of social media platforms.

It is no surprise that House Republicans had to quickly dispose conservative Lynn Cheney. The daughter of conservative stalwarts Dick and Lynne Cheney was too much of a contradiction for Trump Republicans. The Wyoming representative embraced conservative principles but not Trumpian lies. A lawyer by training, Cheney’s willing to challenge Donald Trump’s lies of election fraud complicated the picture for a GOP reconstructed upon a foundation of lies and deception. The party has sold its soul to a dime store dictator, Donald Trump, and there is no room in the leadership of the GOP for an individual brazen enough, such as Cheney, who is willing to publicly call out the party’s submission to the maniacal politics of the 45th president. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was right when he said Cheney was a distraction. She was distracting the House Republican Caucus from becoming an Avon-like salesforce for Donald Trump.

Now with Cheney out of the way the Republican Party can operate full tilt as a White Citizen Council. Already in states led by Republicans, like Georgia, Florida and Texas, efforts are underway to impose draconian barriers to the ballot to suppress the Black vote. The party’s efforts to construct an apartheid state does not end with voting. Republicans are also using multiculturalism and the New York Times 1619 Project as cannon fodder to suggest there is a plot by liberals to undermine American 'values.' The GOP’s rallying cry is ‘Cancel Culture,’ when what they object to is correction culture. The party’s efforts to whitewash history is tied to the necessity of a false narrative of White exceptionalism to justify the oppression of Black and brown people. The party’s alignment with the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers is to use these terrorist groups as guardians of the gate.

Now that House Republicans have come out of the closet as the White Citizens Council, they must be treated as such. Democrats on the Hill, and Black Democrats in particular, must not negotiate with these racists or display a conciliatory attitude toward Republicans. Whatever President Biden construed as bipartisanship must be left for another day, for another Congress. The 117th Congress is all about hand-to-hand combat and Democrats must not give an inch to the opposing party. There is too much at stake for Black and brown people, and women, to concede to the GOP on any issue.

Walter Fields is Executive Editor of

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