For some reason, Democrats insist on honoring their most racist historic figures. It is more than ironic that the progressive wing of the Party operates out of the Woodrow Wilson Center – named after arguably the most racist President since the Civil War.
They celebrate the founder of the modern Democratic Party, President Andrew Jackson, with dinners in his honor throughout the nation. They are the counterpart of the Republicans traditional Lincoln Day dinners.
When Former First Lady Hillary Clinton launched her 2016 presidential campaign, she chose Roosevelt Park in New York City – named after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In this presidential season, former Vice President Joe Biden chose the site of FDR’s death – a spa in Warm Springs, Georgia.
It was an odd choice for a man who wants to reach out for the votes of Black Americans. He can get away with it because he knows that very few Americans fully appreciate Roosevelt’s white supremacist history – and the spa in Warm Springs was a major expression of the President’s racism.
I thought I could best explain why Biden’s choice of locations is a testament to how badly the Democratic Party deceives its Black supporters — and the nation — by incorporating this section of my book manuscript that covers the history of Democrat racism.
“Warm Springs for Whites Only”
Roosevelt’s association with a health spa in Warm Springs, Georgia was reflective of his deep racist beliefs. In 1926, he purchased a small local mineral water spring. It was alleged that the waters were beneficial for polio victims. Roosevelt was diagnosed with poliomyelitis in 1921 at age 39.
Under his ownership, he expanded it to be a large nationally famous health spa. He created the Warm Springs Foundation as a tax-free charity to operate the spa. He served as president of the Foundation, its most prominent member and the magnet for America’s elite visiting the spa. They would welcome the opportunity to patronize Roosevelt’s favorite private charity with personal visits and large financial contributions — and on occasion enjoy his company. He hosted foreign dignitaries there.
In encouraging donations and the use of the facilities, Roosevelt apparently made false claims about the healing effect the waters had on his body. His medical records indicated no such improvements in his condition. The National Park Service website claimed that Roosevelt experienced at least a partial cure from bathing in the waters of Warm Springs.
Roosevelt arrived at the resort on October 3, 1924, hoping to find a cure. The next day, he began swimming and immediately felt an improvement. For the first time in three years, he was able to move his right leg.
The American Journal of Public Health featured an article in 2007 by Naomi Rogers entitled “Race and Politics of Polio.” It stated:
The president was also said to have deceived the American people about the effects of polio on his own body. According to a whispering campaign, polio had left him addicted to drugs, so erratic that he required a straitjacket, and was incontinent, sexually impotent and helplessly crippled.
While the funds were claimed to create an endowment for the Foundation, the funds were often redirected to other civic and political purposes, and even allegedly to Roosevelt, himself. One of the major fundraising events was the President’s annual birthday celebration.
Rogers writes that:
At first the funds were intended to create a permanent endowment for Warm Springs. But gradually the Birthday Ball organizers redirected the money to the local communities that had raised it. The significance of this philanthropic policy shift away from Warm Springs was not widely appreciated by the American public …
Roosevelt’s Foundation was criticized for its fundraising activities. He held an annual Birthday Ball with himself as the star attraction. America’s elite were solicited for contributions – including more than $100,000 donated by prominent black Americans. This was an incredible amount of money during the Depression.
What has been lost in most modern histories of Roosevelt is that his wholly owned and operated spa was for whites only. He even rejected a suggestion for a segregated facility on the grounds for Negro patients. In southern racist tradition, however, the low paid work staff was approximately half Negro. They served as maids, janitors and aides to lift patients in and out of baths. The white staff was housed in the main building or in nearby private cottages. Black workers lived in more distant dormitories.
His refusal to allow black children to use the spa and revelations of the use of donated funds created a growing embarrassment on the verge of scandal. In 1941, with help the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, known popularly as the March of Dimes, Tuskegee Institute opened a heath facility for black polio victims. With only 36 beds, the Institute facility was woefully inadequate to the need. Prominent physician W. Montague Cobb would later describe the Tuskegee facility as a “Negro medical ghetto.”
Roosevelt praised the Institute for its establishment of the special health center for black victims of polio, giving him the appearance of concern for the Negro population who voted for him and donated to his Warm Springs all-white facility. In fact, the Tuskegee facility was necessitated because of Roosevelt’s personal decision to ban black children from Warm Springs.
Most civil rights organizations, including the NAACP and the National Urban League, were offended by Roosevelt’s racist policies and made their plea to Mrs. Roosevelt. According to Naomi Rogers:
Reverend J. S. Bookens of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Mobile, Ala, tried to have his paralyzed 9-year-old son admitted to Warm Springs and was told ‘Negroes (are) never admitted to that institution.’ This case was widely discussed in the Black press and spurred Walter White, secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, to remind Eleanor Roosevelt that segregation at Warm Springs was the reason his association refused to sponsor Birthday Ball fundraising.”
The Urban League argued that a change in policy “would be heartily welcomed by ten million otherwise socially disinherited American citizens.” Whether Eleanor Roosevelt raised the issue with her husband is unknown, but there was no change in the policy.
About the same time, the Chicago Tribune printed a letter that noted:
There is a place in Georgia named Warm Springs where the President has endowed, or partially maintains, a sanitarium for the treatment of infantile paralysis. I have no doubt that what the humblest, most ragged, and illiterate little white child in the land would be admitted there for treatment, but the most cultured, refined, and well clothed Negro child would be denied admittance simply because it was a Negro.
With public outrage mounting, the Chief Surgeon issued a public explanation for Roosevelt’s whites-only policy. His explanation is as damning as the policy. He said:
“[Warm Springs] is not a general orthopedic hospital. It treats and studies nothing but Infantile Paralysis. It maintains no wards, separate clinics or segregated rooms. Aid and pay patients share the same facilities. We cannot take colored people for this reason.”
By 1937, Roosevelt and his fellow trustees were faced with the issue of desegregating Warm Springs. While there was almost universal reluctance to admit Negroes, the trustees recognized the growing public relationship problem and the political problem for Roosevelt. They decided against serving black children but decided to “associate” with an all-black medical facility as a means of stemming the growing criticism. After extensive deliberations Trustee James M. Hooper summed up the sentiment of his fellow board members in saying “our facilities do not lend themselves to the comfortable housing and treatment of resident colored cases … we do not feel that we could make such patients comfortable both physically and psychologically.”
A 1937 decision by Roosevelt and the trustees to drop the Tuskegee Institute and other black medical groups as recipients of that year’s Birthday Ball funds created a firestorm in the black community.
The Chicago Defender ran an article under the headline “We Donated, But They Left Us Out.” The Warm Springs leadership had decided that “the Negro should solve his problem … through local medical practitioners, because statistics show that it (polio) is most prevalent among white people.” Though untrue, the racist medical community proffered the false argument that Negroes were not afflicted by polio.
Warm Springs remained segregated throughout Roosevelt’s lifetime. After his death at Warm Springs in 1945, Rogers further noted that:
Warm Springs remained segregated for many years. By the end of the 1940s it had set up a few “emergency” beds for local Black patients, but there were no Black physicians, nurses, therapists, or administrators, and the Warm Springs movie theater had an indoor picket fence indicating where Black employees could sit, separate from the White patients and staff, in the worst seats.
For the 19 years that Roosevelt owned the facility, and despite his civil rights rhetoric, the mounting criticism from whites and blacks across the nation and with disregard for the health of black children, Roosevelt maintained his racist policies at Warm Springs to the day he died.”
This is only one example of Roosevelt’s deeply seated white supremacy. The entire New Deal was largely crafted by current and former members of the Ku Klux Klan – and designed to take jobs from Blacks to be given to whites. The head of the NAACP label the National Recovery Act (NRA) the Negro Riddance Act.
You can see why Biden was so palsy with his racist Democrat colleagues in the Senate – especially former Ku Klux Klan member and organizer Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Biden gave Byrd high praise in a eulogy when the Senator died in 2010.
This followed a long tradition of Democrat leadership refusing to address the racists in the Party’s ranks in favor of “working with” them – including generations of big-city political machines that have kept millions of blacks segregated, impoverished uneducated, unemployed and unsafe to this day.
In his recent speech, Biden told his audience that Warm Springs was where FDR learned empathy and how to heal a nation like he healed his body. That is not hyperbole. It is a damn lie. FDR’s ownership of the spa in Warm Springs did not heal his body, the nation – and he most certainly did not have any empathy for Black Americans. Biden is selling the snake oil of disinformation to the Black community.
So, there ‘tis.