By Herb Silverman
In 1986 Jeff Sessions, current nominee for attorney general, was nominated and rejected for a position in Alabama’s district court, primarily for having made racially insensitive remarks. There are differences of opinion over whether Sessions was then and is now a racist, which is why he is aa controversial nominee whose record is being carefully examined by civil rights activists.
People do change over time. Former Ku Klux Klan members Hugo Black and Robert Byrd served honorably in the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Senate, respectively. Has Sessions changed? Perhaps, but I’m troubled by his 2015 statement calling the removal of the Confederate flag from public buildings as attempts to delegitimize the “fabulous accomplishments” of our country. Even after the June 17 massacre of nine African-American worshippers at Emanuel AME Church in my hometown of Charleston, South Carolina by a white racist who revered the flag as a symbol of white supremacy, Sessions said he was no fan of any attempt to erase history, recalling his own family’s role in the Civil War.
I watched a C-SPAN discussion on January 9 with Steve Flowers from Alabama, a strong supporter of Sessions. He said Jeff Sessions is not a racist, using as evidence that Sessions is a former Eagle Scout and a very religious Christian. This reminded me of another religious Christian from my state who influenced national politics for decades—former segregationist Strom Thurmond.
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