by Congressman Allen West in the November Issue American Spectator
The word “freedom” for many black Americans is inextricably linked with the word “slavery.” While it has been 148 years since the Emancipation Proclamation, and 47 years since the landmark Civil Rights Act, for many, the words of Martin Luther King in his famous speech still ring true: “The Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.” Many black Americans still find themselves spiritually and economically enslaved on the figurative 21st-century plantation.
Why is that still so? After all, for the last 47 years, our leaders have passed bill after bill ostensibly to free black Americans from the manacles of poverty and provide ever-stronger safety nets for those disadvantaged.
But two very formidable forces have conspired over these last 47 years — almost the span of my entire life–to shackle the economic freedoms and aspirations of the black community: liberal progressive policies, generally supported by Democrats, and the socialist ideology espoused by prominent blacks such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
It is always curious to me that black Americans typically vote Democrat, when it was a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, who issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and a Republican from Ohio, Representative James Mitchell Ashley, who brought forth the bill to support an amendment to end slavery throughout the United States.
Nearly 100 years later, when the initial Civil Rights Bill came before the full Senate in 1964, it was a group of 18 Southern Democrats who argued most fervently against its passage.
While the Civil Rights Act passed, finally ending the reprehensible practices of segregation, the liberal progressive policies passed during these last nearly five decades have perhaps done more damage to black Americans’ prospects than the racial policies of the past. Unemployment in the black community stands at 16.7 percent, food stamp enrollment is up, and nearly three-quarters of all black children do not live with their biological fathers.
Welfare policies devised by the left to aid single mothers have instead worked perversely to incentivize more young women to have children out of wedlock.
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