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Buzzwords from the Southern Manifesto

Walter Smith | Publisher of the New York Beacon | 10/3/2012, 5 p.m.

It's not difficult to understand why Romney made the comments he made at his fundraiser in Florida.

He most likely got his buzzwords confused. His reference was to those who had been characterized as lazy, shiftless, and always looking for a handout. You don't have to be a literary genius to figure that one out.

Unfortunately, since the inception of the Southern Manifesto of 1956, which stated in principle that it's purpose was to overturn the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling and to effectively fight any legislation proposed to benefit Blacks, most election rhetoric has supported that premise.

The manifesto was signed by 99 politicians (97 Democrats) from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Since that time, each and every national election has had its racial overtones.

Street crime and welfare-reform buzzwords were designed to inform White voters that the candidate was in lock-step with the principles of the Southern Manifesto.

In 2008, there were "hard-working Americans." The reference to people sitting on their asses and waiting for a check was ascribed to Black voters. The prevailing belief was that most government-sponsored social programs ("entitlements") were designed to benefit Blacks and Blacks alone.

Some conservative critics of federal social programs, including leading presidential candidates, are sounding an alarm that the United States is rapidly becoming an "entitlement society" in which social programs are undermining the work ethic and creating a large class of Americans who prefer to depend on government benefits rather than work.

A new Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of budget and Census data, however, shows that more than 90 percent of the benefit dollars that entitlement and other mandatory programs spend go to assist people who are elderly, seriously disabled, or members of working households, not to able-bodied, working-age African Americans who choose not to work.

More importantly, the prevailing assumption is that Barack Obama, as president will further extend the government's resources to Black Americans to the detriment of our fiscal health.

The greatest misconception about Blacks in America is that 12.6 percent of the population is responsible for the financial burdens of the country.

In my short 78 years, I've witnessed the enforcement of Jim Crow laws that denied me access to any and all public facilities. This includes access to education, housing, jobs and recreation.

I felt the problem was partially solved when the school desegregation laws were passed in 1954.

However, on March 12, 1956, as the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education (1954) approached, Sen. Walter F. George rose to the speaker's podium in the U.S. Senate to announce the creation of the latest weapon in the segregationist arsenal, the Southern Manifesto.

It was a bold, brazen document, signed by 99 of the South's 128 congressional members. The Southern Manifesto, formally titled a Declaration of Constitutional Principles, denounced the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision, calling it an "unwarranted exercise of power." The Southern Manifesto's signers pledged to "use all lawful means" to "bring about a reversal" of the Brown v. Board of Education decision.