When did the civil rights motion go off the rails? | Opinion

The answer is as proponents shifted from the just demand for equality to the unjustified demand for equal outcomes. When exactly this happened is more difficult to answer.

But think of statements made five years apart by the Kennedy brothers John F. and Robert F.

The brother was not asked, nor was the word “reparation” used. During a press conference in August 1963, a reporter asked President John Kennedy about the “special regime” for blacks: “Mr. President, some Negro leaders say that the Negro, like the Jews persecuted by the Nazis, is entitled to a special waiver for the pain of second-class citizenship through these many decades and generations.

“How do you rate this in general and how do you rate the specific point at which you recommend job quotas by race in particular?”

JFK replied, “I don’t think that, at least as I understand it, is the generally held view of the Negro community that some compensation is due for the years lost, especially in education.

“I think they want their children to be well educated so that they can have jobs and accept their children and accept themselves as equal members of the community.

“So I don’t think we can undo the past. Indeed, the past will remain with us for many years to come with uneducated men and women who have lost their chance of a decent education. We have to do the best we can now. We try to do that. I don’t think odds are a good idea. I think it is a mistake to allocate quotas based on religion, race, skin color or nationality.

“I think we’re getting into a lot of trouble. Our whole view of ourselves is kind of a society. It wasn’t true. At least we try to go there. I think we shouldn’t start the quota system.

“On the other hand, I think that we should endeavor to give everyone who is qualified a fair chance, not through a quota, but only through our employment lists, through our areas in which we hire employees. and at least make sure we give everyone a fair chance, but not fixed quotas. We are too mixed, this society of us, to be divided by race or color. “(Emphasis added).

That same year, Whitney Young, executive director of the National Urban League, proposed a 10-year “Domestic Marshall Plan” for blacks to redress past discrimination. His board of directors was against it.

“The president of the Pittsburgh Urban League chapter said the public would ask,” What on fire are these guys up to? They tell us for years that we have to buy (non-discrimination) and then they say, “It’s not what we want.” ”

Five years later, Senator Robert Kennedy announced his candidacy for president.

He said, “I’m looking for new guidelines – guidelines to end the bloodshed in Vietnam and in our cities, guidelines to fill the gaps that now exist between black and white.”

“Guidelines to fill the gaps that now exist between black and white”? In 1940, 87% of blacks lived below the poverty line. By 1960 that number had dropped to 47 percent, a decrease of 40 points in 20 years, the largest 20 years of economic growth for blacks in American history. Brown v. Board of Education, which was crushed “separately but alike,” was not ruled until 1954.

This sharp decline in black poverty preceded the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

We cannot undo the past. But by teaching blacks to see themselves as victims who deserve “reparations” from today’s white “oppressors”, we can certainly make the present and the future worse.

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