Brotherhood of Man
In the April 6 edition of "The New York Times magazine,Professor Beverly Gage offers a fascinating glance at former PresidentWarren G. Harding’s possible racial history, or “negro” heritage,detailed by accounts by historian William Estabrook Chancellor who saidHarding was the descendant of a great grandmother who was black.
In the article, Gage points out that United States voters may have infact, already voted for a black President if one considers the “onedrop” rule, which at that time, determined how individuals wereracially “classified”..
The one drop rule held that in theUnited States, any individual with any trace of sub-Saharan ancestrycan not be considered “white” unless that person has an alternativenon-white ancestry that they could claim.
A historicallysignificant political point, regardless of Harding’s racial makeup, onething is certain, even in the face of rising outspoken and virulentracism that had manifest, even legitimized itself in the nationalpolitics of the 1920’s through groups like the Ku Klux Klan, asPresident, Harding brought the discussion of race to the table, even inwhat was then, perhaps the nation’s most most segregated city.
As Diane McWhorter’s meticulously reported Pulitzer Prize winning 2001book “Carry Me Home” notes, (pg. 463) ‘in October 1921, then PresidentHarding went to Birmingham Ala., for the city’s 50th anniversarycelebration where he abandoned his boilerplate speech, instead usingthe moment to discuss “the problem of democracy everywhere” race.