Their first migration was great not for its goodness but for its enormity. It was of course the capture, enslavement and diaspora of black Africans. They were stacked like cargo aboard slave ships bound for America and elsewhere and then auctioned and owned like cattle.
Slavery was common throughout the world and had been for thousands of years, but American slavery was notable for its sheer scale. By the mid-1800s, between 30% and nearly 60% of the population of southern states were slaves.
In abolishing slavery, colonials should have led the world, not lagged it. They were destined to found a nation, said Abraham Lincoln years later, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Slavery was beneath them.
And many of them knew it. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson — a slave owner but a brilliant visionary — foreshadowed the years of reckoning ahead.
The product of that reckoning was the next great black migration, when they left the southern plantations after the Civil War. It took 80-some years, but Lincoln started to make good on Jefferson’s promise.
It was costly. Apart from Lincoln, more than 600,000 Americans died in the bloodiest war in our history, before or since. In the South, nearly half the white male population wound up dead, captured, wounded or missing.
The third great black migration was in the 1900s, when over 6 million blacks migrated north from the grinding poverty and Jim Crow segregation of the rural south. They were often poorly educated but their ambition, courage and work ethic landed them jobs in the steel, automotive and railroad industries.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 finally outlawed racial discrimination in public places. Ten years earlier, the Supreme Court had already outlawed segregated public schools in the case of Brown v. Board of Education.
A political realignment was also underway. Democrats had been the main opposition to the Civil Rights Act, and it was the Dems who were behind the Jim Crow laws and the Ku Klux Klan. It was a Republican Chief Justice of the Supreme Court who orchestrated and presided over the unanimous Brown decision, and Lincoln was the first Republican president.
But to their credit, Dems later led the civil rights movement. Black voters saw that, and by the late 1900s about 90% of blacks were voting Democrat.
But now we see a fourth great migration. Black voters are leaving the Dems, or maybe Dems are leaving the blacks.
This is for several reasons. Blacks tend to be more socially conservative than liberal whites. Compared to blacks, white Dems are more likely to favor unrestricted abortion, less likely to attend church regularly and more likely to favor illegal immigration.
Blacks view jobs and wages as “very important” at a rate 20 percentage points higher than whites. Not coincidentally, black unemployment is currently at an all-time low.
Overall, blacks are only half as likely as whites to describe themselves as “liberal or very liberal.”
In short, white Dems have lurched to the left of black Dems in recent years. In fact, black approval ratings for President Trump are upward of 25%, over triple the 8% of their votes he received in 2016.
We saw the effects in a special election in North Carolina this month, where the losing Dem performed poorly in minority-heavy precincts. And whatever your politics, can you honestly imagine black voters getting jazzed up for Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders?
The shifting black vote could be catastrophic for the Dems. If blacks start giving 25% of their votes to Republicans, Dems will be locked out of the White House forever.
In panic, the Dems clumsily seek to purchase black votes with empty promises of “reparations” for the injustices suffered by some of their long-dead ancestors at the hands of a small percentage of the long-dead ancestors of blameless white Americans who are expected to foot the bill. This ultimate exercise in identity politics is so unjust and unworkable that it’s opposed by even former President Barack Obama.
And Dems pander to black feelings of persecution — some of which are justified — by playing the race card. At the ridiculous extreme, Dem candidates for president have labeled the president a white supremacist and accused him of inspiring mass murder.
As illustrated by my reference to the black former president, the Dems’ lamentable increase in rhetoric about racism paradoxically correlates with a commendable decline in real racism.
But that’s not as paradoxical as it sounds. Dems talk about racism not to extinguish it but to stoke the dying embers. Racism, they believe, locks down the black vote for them.
Blacks are now sending a message back. Their message is that they see themselves not as victims with grievances to be bought off, but as Americans with dreams to be fulfilled. They are now busy helping to perfect this nation conceived in liberty into a nation that lives in liberty — for all.
The Dems can follow them or can lose them, but they can no longer own them. Blacks left the Dem plantation three migrations ago, and they’re not going back. (Published Sept. 22, 2019 in the Aspen Times at https://www.aspentimes.com/opinion/glenn-k-beaton-blacks-embark-on-their-fourth-great-migration/