When former KKK member and Exalted Cyclops, Robert Byrd, who wrote a friendly letter to the Grand Wizard of the KKK in 1946, was first elected in 1950 to the West Virginia Senate as a Democrat, had he "switched sides"?
When he was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1953 as a Democrat, had he "switched sides"?
When he was elected to the US Senate in 1959 as a Democrat, had he "switched sides"?
When he filibustered against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for 14 hours as a Democrat, had he "switched sides"?
In his filibuster, he said, "Men are not created equal today, and they were not created equal in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was written." Had he "switched sides"?
When he remained in office, re-elected continuously from 1959 to 2010, when at age 92 he died, each time being re-elected by the same Democrats of West Virginia who first elected him sixty years prior, had he "switched sides"?
And the more important question is, when did the people who elected him "switch sides"? Democrats have controlled the WV state Congress since 1931 until 2014, four years after Byrd's death. Democrats have since 1933 until today (2016) held the Governorship of West Virginia 67 of 83 those years. In which year did they "switch sides"?
A history of legislation, the Republican party, and racism:
Republican party was founded in 1854 as the anti-slavery party.
Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1866 as a pro-slavery, pro-segregation, and white power organization. (Coincidence?)
Founded in 1866, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) extended into almost every southern state by 1870 and became a vehicle for white southern resistance to the Republican Party’s Reconstruction-era policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for blacks. - History Channel
The Dred Scott decision was in 1857. President-elect Buchanan (a Democrat) wrote to Supreme Court Justice John Catron (a Democrat) about settling the case before his inauguration. Chief Justice Taney (also a Democrat) delivered the Court's opinion that a slave could not be a citizen of the United States.
The Republican Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1861.
President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863,
I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free. - The Emancipation Proclamation
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified in 1865. Introduced by Republicans.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. - 13th Amendment
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed by Republicans, vetoed by President Johnson (the Democrat vice-president to Republican Abraham Lincoln), and overridden by Congress.
All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other. - 42 U.S. Code § 1981
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified in 1868. Introduced by Republicans.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. - 14th Amendment
The 15th Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified in 1870. Introduced by Republicans.
In 1871, President Grant (a Republican) signed into law the Enforcement Act of 1871, also known as the Ku Klux Act. - 42 U.S. Code § 1983
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was passed by Republicans and signed into law by President Grant (a Republican).
That all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal and enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude. - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/reconstruction/activism/ps_1875.html
The Supreme Court ruled on Plessy v. Fergusson, upholding "separate but equal" laws in 1896.
In 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded. Founder Ida B. Wells was Republican. Founder W.E.B. Du Bois was neither Democrat nor Republican, but did go on record against the Republicans because he believed they weren't doing enough to fight for blacks. Du Bois supported in 1916 Hughes (a Republican), in 1920 Harding (a Republican), and in 1924 La Follette (a Republican) for President. He corresponded with the Republican National Convention regarding supporting of Hoover (a Republican), whom Du Bois later rejected. Founder Henry Moscowitz served many years under John P. Mitchel, a New York City mayor (and Republican). Founder William English Walling was a Republican until 1917 when the Republicans opposed entering WWI.
The Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education, overturning the previous Plessy v. Fergusson in 1954. Democrats attempted to thwart this ruling. President Eisenhower (a Republican) deployed the military to enforce desegregation in 1957.
In 1955, Rosa Parks became a beacon of the Civil Rights Movement, along with Martin Luther King, Jr. (a Republican).
The Civil Rights Act of 1957 was passed. Strom Thurmond (a then Democrat) filibustered the bill for 24 hours and 18 minutes.
The Civil Rights Act of 1960 was passed.
President Kennedy (a Democrat) issued Executive Order 10925 in 1961, prohibiting discrimination in federal government hiring on the basis of race, religion or national origin and establishing The President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity , the EEOC.
The 24th Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified in 1964, preventing poll taxes from being used to discriminate.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax. - https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxxiv
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. It established federal inspection of local voter registration polls and introduced penalties for anyone who obstructed someone's attempt to register to vote. Strom Thurmond (then Democrat) opposed the bill. Robert Byrd (a Democrat from 1950 until his death in 2010) filibustered the bill for 14 hours and 13 minutes. Byrd was a former KKK member and Exalted Cyclops, who wrote a friendly letter to the Grand Wizard of the KKK in 1946. In his filibuster, he said, "Men are not created equal today, and they were not created equal in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was written."
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed.
The Supreme Court ruled on Loving v. Virginia in 1967, ruling interracial marriage bans were unconstitutional.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (a Republican) was assassinated in 1968.
The Civil Rights Act of 1968 was passed.
It is the policy of the United States to provide, within constitutional limitations, for fair housing throughout the United States. - https://www.justice.gov/crt/fair-housing-act-2
Someone please explain how Sen. Robert Byrd, ex-KKK, Democrat filibustered against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, then remained a Democrat until 2010 when he died while in office. And how his state of West Virginia had a Democrat controlled state Congress from 1931 until 2014. And how his state of WV had Democrat governors 67 of the last 83 years. When did the WV voters become civil rights proponents?
Also, all of the "Civil Rights Acts" (1875, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1968) were introduced and majority vote by Republicans.
Secondly, the Southern Strategy focused more on economic policies which appealed to rural voters. Positions on individual and states rights, personal responsibility, and entitlement reform have been cast in racial lights by the Democrats in an (often successful) bid to call Republicans as racists, when they are making an economic argument devoid of race.
Final note. The south began its transition in 1964 when five states went to Goldwater, the same year as the Civil Rights Act. Nixon's Southern Strategy didn't begin until after Goldwater's success. Even the Democrats believed they had lost the south after 64, and they have been using their own failure to paint Republicans racists.
Honestly, I didn't want to get involved with this as I hoped it was simply an indictment of contemporary "Civil Rights". I put those on quotes because much of what counts as rights are simply entitlement grabs. But when I saw the comment referencing "the last 150 years" I couldn't let that lack of knowledge stand. And of course there is the "Southern Strategy" attack which is common but no less incorrect.
And for someone to claim MLK was in any way a Democrat in 1964 is to be completely unwilling to recognize the Democrat's shameful legacy of racism and segregation. It could be argued that he was independent, as he did have issues with particular candidates and policies. But to say he wasn't greatly aligned with the party of the Civil Rights Acts and desegregation is silly.
At this point, we need specificity of definition. What do you include as a Civil Right? People often point to immigration policies. If amnesty for those who came here illegally is a Civil Right, then borders and laws have no meaning. If voting without proving citizenship, then citizenship has no meaning. If allowing unvetted refugees from countries hostile to us, then security has no meaning. Additionally, people argue for Muslim refugees, but there have been zero refugees allowed who are Christian from those same regions, even though they are being slaughtered but the thousands. The only "right" which might be argued is marriage rights, but the Republicans put forward several means of resolving this equitably, but no one wants to listen. In fact, why is government involved in marriage? If it isn't economic, marriage is simply a contract between people. But I digress.