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Favorable or Unfavorable #225: William L Dawson


Favorable or Unfavorable #225: William L Dawson  

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  1. 1. Did you read my first comment?

  2. 2. Favorable or Unfavorable #225: William L Dawson

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US Rep. WL Dawson (IL-D) was one of the only black Congress members of his time. In order to rise in the party and be effective, if he had to avoid overt pro-CR actions. He would not openly support MLK and other CR leaders, although he did not reject them either. He thought even the term "Civil Rights" would trigger Southerners, so he avoided the term the best he could. 

This not too unlike how Obama was a little hesitant on race, considering how progressive he was. Obama, and probably Dawson, were probably self-conscious in setting a precedence for black politicians holding their respective offices. If the were too Civil-Rightsy, they'd come off as politicians for one demographic. Both went out of their way--to a degree--to make their race not an issue. I read an article in which black scholars rank Obama in like tier B or tier C for race relations (focusing on blacks) by presidents. There were about 5 tiers. I need to find that article again. 

Anyway, Dawson thought he could do the best for blacks by focusing on being a Congressman and not focusing on race. This was actually Hank Aaron's method. He didn't get involved in CR, he just hit home runs and hoped to help with gaining equality or equity by proving that blacks could excel as much as any race/ethnicity. 

His actions:

Dawson, William L. 1939 Rising black politician switches from GOP to Dem
Dawson, William L. 1947 one of only two black House members
Dawson, William L. 1949 Influential House Oversight Committee Chair. Served 19 years (w/ brief break); first black Congr Chair in history
Dawson, William L. 1960 Moderate on CR to keep his "Southern friends", does not openly support MLK Jr's efforts; advises JFK not to use term "Civil Rights"
Dawson, William L. 1961 Declines JFK's offer of PM Gen
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