As a member of the House of Representatives in 1978, Lott was behind a successful effort to re-instate the U.S. citizenship of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In 1981, the year Lott became majority whip in the House, he prodded the Reagan administration to fight for tax exemptions for racist private schools like Bob Jones University. (The Supreme Court turned down the administration’s plea in an 8 to 1 decision.)
In 1982 and again in 1990, Lott voted against extending the Voting Rights Act. In 1983 he voted against a national holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr., and in 1994 voted to de-fund the Martin Luther King holiday commission. In 1990 Lott voted against the continuation of the Civil Rights Act. In 2005, Lott scored 5 percent on the NAACP's civil rights legislative report card (NAACP.org, 1/06).
And no mainstream media outlet seems to have reported that Trent Lott has never even motioned toward apologizing for his long association with the Council of Conservative Citizens, or for the lies he told denying his links to the group.
In late 1998, when it was learned that the then-Senate majority leader had had a long-term association with the CCC, a racist group the Southern Poverty Law Center described (Intelligence Report, Winter/99) as "the reincarnation of the infamous White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s,” Lott responded to questions about his appearance at a CCC event by denying, through an aide, any detailed knowledge of the group, and said he only “vaguely remembered” giving a single speech to the group more than ten years earlier (Extra!, 3-4/99).
In fact, Lott hosted CCC leaders at his Senate office in 1997 and addressed its events at least three times in the 1990s. As a keynote speaker at a 1992 CCC convention, Lott heaped praise on its members: “The people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy…. Let's take it in the right direction and our children will be the beneficiaries!"
I got to thinking about Lott while listening to Robert Caro's Master of the Senate as I drove to Indiana last week. It contained a quote from one of Lott's predecessors James O. Eastland, who, while still a senator representing the great state of Mississippi, declared at a 10,000-strong rally in opposition to the Montgomery bus boycott:
In every stage of the bus boycott we have been oppressed and degraded because of black, slimy, juicy, unbearably stinking niggers.... African flesh-eaters. When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to abolish the Negro race, proper methods should be used. Among these are guns, bows and arrows, slingshots and knives.... All whites are created equal with certain rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of dead niggers.
Yep. That was just 50 years ago.