February is Black History Month. Toward that end, I’d like to share Rep. Allen West’s speech on the floor of the House, in which he refreshingly presents . . . history. I’m also posting a speech excerpt from the great Frederick Douglass.
Rep. West covers a lot of ground, discussing many victories on the road from slavery to freedom, the heroes that led, and the political party to which they belonged.
He also incidentally mentions a tremendously successful school voucher program – put into place by Pres. George W. Bush – that freed a number of Washington D.C. children from failing schools. Rep. West neglects to mention that Pres. Obama is determined to end this successful voucher program.
Rep. West’s theme is that, “The Republican Party has always been the party of freedom . . . . [t]he Republican Party is, always has been, and forever shall be, the party of equality of opportunity.” He makes this point with historic example after historic example.
Any commemoration or acknowledgement of Black History Month is incomplete without reference to that great man, that great American, that great advocate of freedom and justice: Frederick Douglass.
In 1865, Frederick Douglass addressed the Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in Boston. The meeting took place around the time of Lincoln’s assassination and the end of the Civil War. In his speech entitled, “What the Black Man Wants,” Frederick Douglass spoke about the equality of all under the law. Among other things, he said:
What I ask for the Negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us. Gen. Banks was distressed with solicitude as to what he should do with the Negro. Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, “What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot- box, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone – your interference is doing him a positive injury. Gen. Banks’ “preparation” is of a piece with this attempt to prop up the Negro. Let him fall if he cannot stand alone! If the Negro cannot live by the line of eternal justice, so beautifully pictured to you in the illustration used by Mr. Phillips, the fault will not be yours, it will be his who made the Negro, and established that line for his government. Let him live or die by that. If you will only untie his hands, and give him a chance, I think he will live. He will work as readily for himself as the white man.
As the saying goes, “the bigger the government the smaller the citizen.” If we are entitled to anything, we are entitled to untied hands and a chance.