Several decades ago, the vast majority of blacks were Republicans. No, they were not Democrats. The Republican Party was actually the “Party of Lincoln,” the ones that enacted the Emancipation Proclamation. They were the ones who supported the Reconstruction.
Voting Republican was common for blacks who were allowed to vote following the Civil War up until the beginning of the 20th century. The Democrat Party consisted of whites who were in favor of segregation and governed the way of the south. In 1924, things changed and the Democratic Party opened its doors to blacks. However, the majority of the blacks were living in the South and were not allowed to vote.
Around the 1960s, the vast majority of blacks pledged their loyalty to the Democratic Party. The events of the Civil Rights movement were a catalyst for blacks to leave the Republican Party in droves. The initial shift of Blacks from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party occurred during the Great Depression. Blacks were drawn to the Roosevelt presidential administration and its policies to bring jobs and help citizens who were living in poverty.
Despite these gains, many blacks continued to stay affiliated with the Republican Party. However, it was not until Harry Truman received over 70 percent of the African-American vote in 1948 that many blacks reported themselves as Democrats. This could be due, in part, to Truman issuing orders to desegregate the military. By the late 1960s, about two-thirds of blacks were affiliated with the Democratic Party and today, the number is close to 90 percent.
Another major factor which contributed to the mass exodus from the Republican Party by blacks was the political agenda of U.S. Senator and presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was a 1964 Republican presidential nominee, and has been referred to as being the beginning for the “Tea Party.” The platform depended greatly on his conservative beliefs that the federal government should be separate from state business. Goldwater also was not in favor of the Civil Rights Act and even viewed it as unconstitutional. Lyndon Johnson garnered 94 percent of the black vote after signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act into Law.
There has not been another Republican candidate who has gotten more than fifteen percent of the black vote since that time. Goldwater’s views drew many white southern voters to his camp, and the one-third of blacks who were still supporters of the Republican Party quickly left the party. Black voters have largely remained supporters of the Democratic Party ever since.