Edward McClelland of NBC Chicago has a thinly-veiled hit piece posted on Monday, November 29, 2010, against Senator-elect Mark Kirk who was sworn in during the afternoon of that same date: How Mark Kirk Re-Segregates the Senate.  Although Mr. McClelland tries to cover his tracks by saying the following…

This is no slur against Kirk. It’s not a slur against Illinois, either. It shouldn’t be our responsibility to
provide a black senator. It’s a slur against the other 49 states, who refuse to elect a black politician
to the U.S. Senate.

…please allow me to point out the error of his slur.

The key is in the initial qualifier he throws out at the beginning of the article:

Since Reconstruction, there have only been four black senators. Three of them — Carol
Moseley Braun, Barack Obama and Roland Burris — have held the seat that Kirk is about
to occupy. (Emphasis is mine.)

So, what does “since Reconstruction” really mean and why did Mr. McClelland feel it was necessary to use this delimiter?  Well, folks, facts are funny things and here are the facts.  There have been six black U.S. Senators and Illinois was by no means the first.

  1. Hiram Rhodes Revels (R-MS) 1870-1871
  2. Blanche Bruce (R-MS) 1875-1881
  3. Everett Dirksen (R-IL) 1967-1979
  4. Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL) 1993-1999
  5. Barack Obama (D-IL) 2005-2008
  6. Roland Burris (D-IL) 2009-2010

As you can see, his statement only sounds good when you don’t include Reconstruction (either 1863-1877 or 1865-1877, depending on how you want to define it) and Illinois is neither the only state to have elected a black U.S. Senator nor the first.  Mississippi holds that honor.  But if you don’t know your history, you might have been misled to believe that Illinois had.

And just for fun, you may want to note that both the Republican and Democrat parties have each had 3 black senators, the Republican senators have served more years (R-19 years, D-10 years), and the longest serving senator was a Republican…from Illinois.

But let’s go a little further with this and ask a few questions of our own.  Why, when talking about blacks and politics, do so many people want to throw out the Reconstruction era?  Why was there a gap in black senators between 1881 and 1967?  Why have the Republicans, after having fielded the first three black senators, not fielded one since?  Conversely, why have all black senators since 1979 been Democrats?

I have answers for these questions but I believe it best for people to put a little of their own effort into finding answers.  To that end, I offer up the following videos for your education:

“From Bondage to the Halls of Congress”

“The Civil Rights Movement” (Part 1)

“The Civil Rights Movement” (Part 2)

Once you’ve viewed these videos, you’ll understand MY title and see that Mr. McClelland’s piece IMPLIES racism where none exists while trying to hide through obfuscation ACTUAL racism in regard to HOW and WHEN Congress was really re-segregated decades ago…not during the 2010 midterms.

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