A Republican Colorado representative is facing backlash after claiming that black people and white people were lynched in nearly equal numbers for being Republican in the post-Reconstruction era, The Greeley Tribune reports.
Rep. Lori Saine (Firestone) made the claim on the Colorado House floor Friday and later shared a video of her controversial remarks on her Facebook page Monday, saying it was in defense of House District 49 Rep. Perry Buck, R-Windsor, who tried to introduce a resolution honoring Dr. King.
In a 4-minute speech on the house floor, Saine claims Buck’s inability to introduce the resolution means the “march toward justice is not over.”
“How could I honor Martin Luther King today without shining a light on injustice myself?” Saine said in her speech. “My colleagues, how can you redeem your marginalized voice by marginalizing ours? Our march towards justice is not over when a colleague is barred from introducing a resolution on this floor because of the color of her skin. Our march of justice is not over when a member of this body who represents Americans of races, creeds and religions is told that Martin Luther King does not represent her heritage.”
“Colleagues, we are standing in the moral arc of history today as we celebrate a reverend who changed history for all Americans. We have come a long way on that arc since the reconstruction when whites and blacks alike were in nearly equal numbers lynched for the crime of being Republican,” she added.
The Greeley Tribune noted that nearly 73 percent of lynchings in the U.S. were committed against black people.
Fritz Fisher, the chairman of the University of Northern Colorado History Department, and a history professor specializing in 20th century American history, had a short answer when asked about Saine’s characterization of American lynchings: “No.”
“Blacks were lynched for the ‘crime of being black,’ which obviously isn’t a crime — and not even close to equal numbers,” Fisher said. “I suppose there were a certain number of blacks who were lynched who were Republican. But that was coincidental.”
Saine acknowledged more black people were lynched than white people, saying white lynchings outpaced black lynchings “in the beginning.” It’s true that from 1882-1885 whites were lynched in greater numbers than black people. For the next 70 years, lynchings of black people far outpaced those of white people, according to data Saine cited from Tuskegee University.
Fisher said in an email that Saine was repeating a myth that has its origins in a book by David Barton called, “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White.”
Fisher said he has written extensively about Barton as a leading writer of misleading “anti-history designed only to support a right-wing political agenda rather than deriving from actual historical research.”
Fisher added that the Republican party of the 21st century bears almost no resemblance to the Republican party of the 19th century.
“It is ahistorical for any politician to claim that anything that happened to Republicans in the 19thcentury has any connection whatsoever to Republicans of the 21st century,” Fisher said.
According to The Guardian’s examination of America’s history of lynching:
For decades, the most comprehensive total belonged to the archives at the Tuskegee Institute, which tabulated 4,743 people who died at the hands of US lynch mobs between 1881 and 1968. According to the Tuskegee numbers, 3,446 (nearly three-quarters) of those lynched were black Americans.
The EJI, which relied on the Tuskegee numbers in building its own count, integrated other sources, such as newspaper archives and other historical records, to arrive at a total of 4,084 racial terror lynchings in 12 southern states between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and 1950, and another 300 in other states…