Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina argued powerfully during the Republican primary debate on Wednesday night that many of the issues faced by black Americans today are not a legacy of slavery, but of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society.”
“America has suffered because of slavery, but we’ve overcome that. We are the greatest nation on earth because we faced our demons in the mirror and made a decision,” Scott said.
“Black families survived slavery. We survived poll taxes and literacy tests. We survived discrimination being woven into the laws of our country,” he added.
The U.S. fought the Civil War over the issue of slavery and freedom prevailed.
The immediate post-Civil War and Reconstruction era saw the ratification of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, which ended slavery, guaranteed former slaves equal protection under the law and the right to vote (for men, at least).
These were Republican Party initiatives.
As Scott alluded to, the ideals of the post-Civil War amendments were not fully realized in Southern states, thanks to the passage of Jim Crow laws by Democratic lawmakers. These laws made blacks second-class citizens.
However, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 addressed many of those wrongs.
“What was hard to survive was Johnson’s Great Society where they decided to … take the black father out of the household to get a check in the mail. And you can now measure that in unemployment, in crime, in devastation,” Scott said.
“If you want to restore hope, you’ve got to restore the family.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) reiterates his criticism of Florida’s educational standards, but says LBJ’s domestic programs were harder to survive than slavery for Black families. pic.twitter.com/u4gvREUi6R
— The Recount (@therecount) September 28, 2023
Robert Woodson — an activist who participated in the civil rights movement in the 1960s — told The Western Journal in a 2020 interview that the single-parent household is one of the main causes of the societal ills seen among African-Americans in the present day.
Woodson is the founder of the Woodson Center, a nonprofit dedicated to helping low-income neighborhoods.
He noted in the interview that black Americans in the first half of the 20th century responded to prejudice by building their own infrastructure of hotels, banks and prosperous neighborhoods like Bronzeville in Chicago, known as the “Black Wall Street.”
“For a whole century [following the Civil War], the nuclear family stood as a safeguard for the preservation of that community,” he said.
But in the 1960s, the Great Society separated “work from income and welfare replaced the man in the house,” Woodson said.
Asked what he would change to help strengthen African-African communities, Woodson said he would “like to see the government stop helping people.”
On Wednesday night, Scott acknowledged, “I have been discriminated against, but America is not a racist country. Never ever doubt who we are.”
“We are the greatest country on God’s green earth and, frankly, the city on the hill needs a brand new leader,” Scott proclaimed.
The senator’s reference to a city on a hill was a nod to former President Ronald Reagan, who used the phrase to describe the United States.
The GOP debate was held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.