150 Years After The Emancipation Proclamation, The GOP Repositions For Better Race Relations

This year, New Year's Day had a special significance for African Americans: it marked the 150th anniversary of The Emancipation Proclamation --which ended slavery in states that had seceded from the Union.

At that time, President Abraham Lincoln--a Republican-- made a historic decision to liberate black slaves. 

The proclamation eventually gave the "Grand Ole' Party" (GOP) a strategic political advantage with voters of color for nearly 75 years. To their credit, the Republican party produced the first black members of Congress during the Reconstruction era and helped pass the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments.  But the tide began to turn during the 1930s as more blacks shifted their support to the Democratic party.

For Republicans, regaining the confidence of black voters has been an arduous task. While some blacks have advanced to prominent positions within the GOP--such as newly appointed Senator Tim Scott-- minority voters have maintained an affinity for the Democratic party.

In the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois, Republican candidate Lenny McAllister faces the formidable task of winning a district which has voted Democratic for almost 60 years. On Tuesday, he issued a statement to commemorate Lincoln's historic act and reflect on what all Americans should do. “150 years later, we are called – through the power of words, the steps of a movement, and perhaps the stroke of a pen – to be historic ourselves," McAllister said. 

The 40-year-old self-proclaimed "Working Man's Conservative" continued with his thoughts about how the past can be used to reflect on where America is today.

" In 1863, Lincoln was called to grant freedom from chattel slavery. Today, we are called to facilitate freedom from economic poverty, political depravity, societal alienation, and educational deficiencies."

Yet, there are some who feel the Republican party --as a whole-- is not working towards those freedoms.

Iris DeSalvo, a resident of Chicago's North Side, is a "full-blooded Democrat." As a former charity worker, she has seen the good that her party has done for the less fortunate--in the present.

"I care wholeheartedly about Lincoln helping to get freedom for the slaves," DeSalvo said. "As for [everything else],  I really hate the Republican party." 

Another Chicago resident, Carole E. Cooper --who is black--didn't express hatred for the GOP but she did share some of DeSalvo's sentiments. 

"They can try to exploit [the Emancipation Proclamation's anniversary] but not use it to their advantage because the Republican Party has never been the party for the disenfranchised American," the real estate professional explained. "With the loss of their candidates, the fiscal cliff, the recent shooting in Newtown--they have so many other issues that they need to focus on that any attempt to do so would be fruitless."

Yet, Ms. Cooper acknowledged that some of the challenges for Republicans are circumstantial. 

"I'm sure if these things were not in the way, they might have done something, but with the world today, I simply don't see it."

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  1. Well, the Republican Party usta be comprised of good-guys. At that time, 150 years ago, the Democratic Party wasn't in favor of the regular working class, the poor, disabled or minorities. Wow, things have done a 180°!!