On Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade complained to Fox Nation personalities Diamond and Silk that the Democrats used to be the party of the Ku Klux Klan, but “somehow that narrative flipped.”
During the June 28 edition of Fox & Friends, Kilmeade claimed that Democrats often don’t acknowledge that their party “gave birth to the Ku Klux Klan.” He added that “it was a Republican that -- Abraham Lincoln’s party -- that up into the 1960s that would fought [and] push back against racism,” and mentioned former Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), the longtime Democrat and former KKK leader. Kilmeade expressed aggravation that after the 1960s, “somehow that narrative flipped.”
As Princeton University history professor Kevin Kruse pointed out on Twitter, this change during the 1960s was not accidental. The Democratic Party first supported slavery and then segregation until the late 1940s, when the party began to embrace civil rights under President Harry Truman while his Republican successor President Dwight Eisenhower was reluctant to pass the 1957 Civil Rights Act. Still, the 1960 GOP presidential nominee received 32% of the Black vote -- but by 1964, that number fell to just 4%. Conservatives who opposed the Civil Rights Act began to lead the party, as evidenced by Sen. Barry Goldwater’s (R-AZ) 1964 campaign for president. Southern Democrats who opposed civil rights were welcomed into the Republican Party, and a new generation of Southern Republicans became clearly associated with segregation, leading to a change in party ideology and a shift in “narrative.”
By willfully omitting these facts when talking about party history, Kilmeade seems to suggest that Black Democrats should be more grateful to the Republican Party, as explained by The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer. Serwer also pointed out that this line of reasoning is often used to stoke white resentment towards Black voters.
From the June 28 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): I think on some level, Diamond, the Democrats don't want this argument for the main reason is they’re the ones who gave birth to the Ku Klux Klan. It was a Republican that -- Abraham Lincoln’s party -- that up into the 1960s that would fought [and] push back against racism. And somehow that narrative flipped, and people are forced to go back and remember what Sen. Byrd was and -- even though every road is named after him and every hallway has a plaque with his face on it.