UA Department of History Alum Marcus Witcher, currently a scholar in residence with the department of history and the Arkansas Center for Research in Economics at the University of Central Arkansas, was featured recently in the Washington Post‘s “Made By History” series. His piece, entitled “Why Joe Biden had to work with segregationists,” explores the extent of political power held by segregationist senators into the early 1980s, forcing even the most left-leaning Democratic politicians to work with them.
From Witcher’s piece:
“At Thursday’s Democratic debate, former vice president Joe Biden came under even more fire for bragging about his ability to work with southern segregationists during his early years in the Senate. Sen. Kamala D. Harris, the only African American candidate on the stage with Biden, attacked him in searingly personal terms, explaining, ‘it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.’
“But such criticism is unfair. Biden was far from the only progressive Democrat to have worked with former segregationists in the era to which he referred. They had to. Many of these segregationist senators maintained political power well into the 1980s, holding important positions, including chairmanships, on key committees with the support of their colleagues and the majority of the voters in their states.”
Continued at the Washington Post website.