Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jacob Javits 1958 Prediction




Jacob Javits (second from right) looks over a civil rights bill in 1966 with fellow senators.
In December 1958, Jacob Javits, then a Republican senator from New York, wrote an essay for Esquire magazine entitled "Integration from the Top Down." He opened with an imagined scene from 1999, when the African-American Secretary of State resigns his post to run for president. In these excerpts, written before segregation ended, Javits argued that a black president was not only possible - it should be inevitable.
Fantasy? To be sure, a speculation into the future as we look ahead from 1958. But a speculation based on realistic appraisal of the fact for the march of progress and world events make it quite possible that a member of the Negro race will be appointed to a top cabinet post or elected to the Presidency or Vice-Presidency by the year 2000. And by Negro, I am not quibbling here with regard to the vast but undetermined number of Americans who have 1/32 or slightly more of Negro blood. I am dealing here with a person whose skin pigmentation is obviously other than white. I also believe that racial and religious prejudices will be eradicated so thoroughly that minority group persons - Catholic, Jewish or other - will be able to run for high office without special handicap; the will run on their merits as racial equals with white Protestants.
I base these conclusions on very practical considerations. The solid progress we have made in achieving civil rights gives us every reason to anticipate that these gains will accelerate the move to more progress. Once the fight has won for Negroes in the South their Constitutional right to vote and once they learn to take the full responsibility of voting, this country may well witness a ballot-box revolution in many Southern states. Further, racial and religious prejudice, where used in election campaigns in recent years, has turned out to be very poor politics.
Within relatively few years we should see a marked increase in the number of Negro Representatives in the Congress. Spurred on by the passage of last year's civil-rights bill, leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have launched a drive to practically triple Negro registration in the South to put it on a par with the present 60 per cent registration among eligible white voters. Their immediate goal is the election of three Negro Congressmen from Mississippi and one each from North Carolina and South Carolina in by 1960. I believe the total number of Negroes in Congress (four in 1958) will start to reflect their population share of 10 per cent and that between thirty and forty qualified Negroes will be elected Representatives at the opening of the 106th Congress, second session, in the year 2000. [Javits' prediction is remarkable. In the 2000 Congress, there were 37 black Representatives, including 12 women.]
In addition, Negro leaders have told me privately that they feel it will be possible to name a Negro to the U.S. Supreme Court bench in about ten years [In fact, it only takes nine. Thurgood Marshall is appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to the Supreme Court in June 1967], and that at the same time we may have the first Negro since Reconstruction days sitting in the U.S. Senate. [Edward Brooke of Massachusetts was elected to the Senate in 1966. He would serve until 1979.]
What manner of man will this be, this possible Negro President candidate of 2000? Undoubtedly, he will be well-educated. He will be well-traveled and have a keen grasp of his country's role in the world and its relationships. He will be a dedicated internationalist with working comprehension of the intricacies of foreign aid, technical assistance and reciprocal trade.
He may well be a diplomat who has earned the respect of people everywhere for his skill, insight and knowledge. He could be a scientist or engineer or statesman.
Assuredly, though, despite his other characteristics he will have developed the fortitude to withstand the vicious smear attacks that came his way as he fought to the top in government and politics. While we can expect an end to racial and religious discrimination by 2000, the transformation will not be easy and those in the vanguard may expect to be the targets of scurrilous attacks, as the hate mongers, in their last-ditch efforts, spew their verbal and written poison.
My deep belief is that we can remove this roadblock to the peaceful progress of all our citizens by exposing the pillars of prejudice for what they so often are - fear, ignorance, greed. That we as a people have the desire, the strength and the faith to do just that has been said often on the floor of the Senate, but perhaps never more positively than by B.K. Bruce in the year 1880. Rising to vigorously support legislation promoting the welfare and the individual rights of the American Indian, this Republican Senator from Mississippi said:
"As a people, our history is full of surmounted obstacles. We have been scaling difficult problems for more than a hundred years. We have been (and will continue to be) settling material, moral and great political questions that before our era have been unsolved . . ."
Senator Bruce, born into human bondage, was the first Negro elected to serve a full term in the United States Senate.
Thanks to the NY Post for providing the historical record.


Video Of The Week

Blog Subjects

Our Blogger Templates Web Design

  © Blogger template Brooklyn by 2008

Back to TOP