While Dave Chappelle is being heralded for giving a great “race” speech on Saturday Night Live, his historical account is wrong.
As a Calvin Coolidge admirer, I figured this needed to be addressed.
Here’s his two-minute monologue:
While President Obama will go down as the first black president, Calvin Coolidge should go down as one of the biggest defenders of empowering black people coming out of slavery. Here’s one example via the Politico.com. Read the full article here, as it details out his words as well.
The 30th president, Republican Calvin Coolidge, was a major supporter of Howard University and an overlooked figure in advancing the cause of racial equality in the United States. In one of his earliest acts as president, Coolidge proposed and persuaded Congress to pass an appropriation bill that reinforced the unique relationship between Howard and the federal government.
In his First Annual Address to Congress in 1923 he wrote: “About half a million dollars is recommended for medical courses at Howard University to help contribute to the education of 500 colored doctors needed each year.” This appropriation was to grow over the years, leading to the production of health care and other professionals who would stimulate the growth of an African-American middle class and develop leaders in all walks of life, nationally and internationally.
Coolidge made it clear that his interest in Howard specifically and the African-American community generally was not limited to this one gesture.
But forty years before Johnson’s declaration, Coolidge gave the commencement address at Howard and signaled a significant change in progressive race relations. In reading his words it must be recalled that he spoke at a time when separate but equal was the law of the land, when lynchings trumped due process in criminal cases involving black men, and when the most recent Democratic president, Woodrow Wilson, had praised a film which glorified the Ku Klux Klan.