On Monday's "Good Morning America," co-host Robin Roberts chose to tout only Democratic politicians in a piece honoring the civil rights movement and those "warriors" who made Barack Obama's election as president possible. Not a single Republican was mentioned or featured in the segment. Roberts began by announcing, "And on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we thought it would be appropriate to look back at all the warriors, black and white, who made this moment where we are today possible."
All the warriors? The piece went on to feature clips from eight Democratic politicians: Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Robert Kennedy, Barbara Jordan and Barack Obama, in addition to a number of non-political civil rights pioneers. Republican Abraham Lincoln went unmentioned, so did New York Governor Thomas Dewey who signed one of the nation's earliest civil rights laws in 1944 and President Ronald Reagan who made Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a federal holiday in 1983.
The piece also ignored the inconvenient fact that a higher percentage of Congressional Republicans voted for the historic 1964 Civil Rights Act than did Democrats. Another point left unmentioned was the heroic effort by the conservative GOP minority leader in the Senate, Everett Dirksen, in supporting that legislation:
Sen. Thomas Kuchel of California led the Republican pro-civil rights forces. But it became clear who among the Republicans was going to get the job done; that man was conservative Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen.
He was the master key to victory for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Without him and the Republican vote, the Act would have been dead in the water for years to come. LBJ and Humphrey knew that without Dirksen the Civil Rights Act was going nowhere.
Dirksen became a tireless supporter, suffering bouts of ill health because of his efforts in behalf of crafting and passing the Civil Rights Act. Nonetheless, Sen. Dirksen suffered the same fate as many Republicans and conservatives do today.
For more, see a December 14, 2002 article by Diane Alden on NewsMax.com.
Roberts began the segment by repeating, "And there's a phrase we've been hearing so much I want to share with you. 'Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama ran so our children can fly.'" It would have been nice if GMA found time to highlight some of the many pro-civil rights politicians in the Republican Party.
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:15am on January 19, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: And there's a phrase we've been hearing so much I want to share with you. 'Rosa sat so Martin could walk. Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama ran so our children can fly.' And on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we thought it would be appropriate to look back at all the warriors, black and white, who made this moment where we are today possible.
MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE (1939): Democracy is for me and for 12 million black Americans a goal to which our nation is marching. It is a dream and an idea whose ultimate realization we have a deep and abiding faith.
PRESIDENT HARRY TRUMAN (1947): There is no justifiable reason for discrimination because of ancestry or religion or race or color.
HUBERT HUMPHREY (1948): For those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them, we are 172 years late.
PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY (1963): 100 years of delay has passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons are not fully free. And this nation for all its hopes and all its boasts will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.
MARTIN LUTHER KING: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.
MALCOM X (1964): Our forefathers weren't the pilgrims. We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. The rock was landed on us. So what you and I have got to do is get involved. You and I have to be right there breathing down their throat. Every time they look over their shoulder, we want them to see us. We want to make them -we want to make them have the strongest civil rights bill they've ever passed.
FANNIE LOU HAMER (1964): I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave where we have to sleep with our telephones off of the hook because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live in peace as human beings in America?
PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON (1965): But, really, it's all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.
STOKELY CARMICHAEL (1966): We have never lynched. We have never shot. We never burnt a church. We've never beaten people. We've never taken them to jail. That is the question for white America. The real question is can she civilize herself before we get ready to civilize her?
MARTIN LUTHER KING: I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.
SENATOR ROBERT F. KENNEDY (1968): We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times, but the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.
BARBARA JORDAN (1976): We are a people and a quandary about the present. We are a people in search of our future. We are attempting to fulfill our national purpose to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal.
REVEREND JESSE JACKSON (1984): We've experienced pain but progress as we ended America's apartheid laws. We lost Malcolm, Martin, Medgar, Bobby, John and Viola. The team that got us here must be expanded not abandoned.
PRESIDENT ELECT BARACK OBAMA: If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.