No Difference Between Jim Eastland and Mitch McConnell

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Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash

Cory, my brother, give me a break.

Kamala, my sister, give me a break, please.

Shun, knock it off.

What gives with this litmus test on who talked with segregationist lawmakers during the days when segregationists held the power committees on Capitol Hill. How else could a young representative or senator get anything done for his or her state or district but talk with the people who had the power to make things happen? It’s called politics — the reason we send people to Congress.

I’ve been Black for far longer than either of you. I was born and reared in the grave, deep south; Herman Talmadge was my senator. I cut my teeth fighting the so-called “good ole boys,” yet I’m not offended the least about comments made by Obama’s brother Joe.

If Joe can have civil conversations with people whom he disagrees with, he is better for it, so too is the country. I’ve seen both of you work, and you both appear to have the ability to engage people who have opposing views with a civil tongue.

Neither of you was of age in that day Joe fondly recalled. Eastland would just as quickly call a Delaware Yankee a boy as he would the gray-haired Black man who shined his shoes in Congress.

This nuance is Joe’s point. The fact that Eastland called him “son,” meant that Eastland was agreeable to working with a northern Democrat.

I hate to tell you, but this was not normal in those days when you both were babies. In the vernacular of the legendary Joe Biden, “This is a big fucking deal.”

You both are too young to understand the nuance of what Joe spoke. Thus, neither of you should criticize him. You have no context for the point Joe made.

Today in the United States Congress, there is not a dime’s worth of difference between Jim Eastland, Herman Talmadge, Joe Kennedy, and Mitch McConnell.

While Kennedy and McConnell, unlike Eastland et al., are in the closet when it comes to their racial feelings, their policies are no less harmful to the Black community than Eastland, John Stennis, Richard Russell, and Talmadge were in the days tobacco chewing, snuff dipping white men walked the halls of Congress.

If I find out either of you talk with Mitch McConnell, I will have to reevaluate your fitness to compete against Donald Trump in 2020.

If neither of you doesn’t call McConnell a lousy name for opposing reparation on the racist guise that The election of President Barack Obama compensated black people, then I must figure that neither of you is any better than Joe Biden.

Hello Pete, hello, Elizabeth.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. Harvey is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received because of his pro bono representation of students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium, and Black College Nines. Contact him at

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