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Trent Lott
By: Damali Driskell

Trent Lott, the former Senate Majority Leader and Republican senator, came under fire for racist comments that he made about Strom Thurmond, which insulted minorities. Lott, a Mississippi native, spoke of his pride for J. Strom Thurmond, a Dixiecrat and segregationist, in 1948, and declared that the nation’s problems would be eliminated had he been elected president. The comments came at a celebration of Thurmond’s 100th birthday and retirement from legislature.

Republican support among minorities is on a rapid decline. Colin Powell, the African American Secretary of State, said that he was disappointed in Lott. Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida said the comments were damaging to the Republican Party, but he said nothing of the minorities that were angered.
It has been discovered that Lott has a history of transgressions that have to do with African Americans. He called blacks into his office to pose in photos for his media profile, leaving a false impression that he works with blacks all the time.

His party also featured gospel music, and break dancing in the 2000 convention, to grab some support from blacks, though the presence of African Americans at that convention diminished to a mere 4% , a historic low.

Some people felt that though the comments were inexcusable, they were not very surprised by the remarks, saying that there were and still are numerous people that think this way. Senator Robert C. Byrd, for example (Democrat from West Virginia) is a former member of the KKK. For some, it also brings back painful memories of the segregation in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, and the violent struggle to end it.

What is disturbing is that it is coming from someone as influential as our Senate Majority Leader, who heads the most powerful branch of our government.
Trent Lott came on Black Entertainment Television (BET, which is white-owned) to deliver his latest apology to the masses that he offended. He came on national television to talk about how many black friends he has, to reject the allegations that he is a racist, and to assure people that all the comments that he made were a mistake, though they fit in with all of the deeds and other words of his career.

Lott had dug a hole for himself that was too deep to get out of, before his TV time had even ended. It was the mixing of political pressure and race issues that made Trent Lott finally resign a few days later. But his feelings live on in many a politician today.

In Lott’s first press conference after his resignation, he stated that he had only himself to blame. He also insists that he was targeted for being a Mississippian, Conservative, and Christian which many people disliked. Trent Lott’s successor, Robert Frist is a physician who tends to lean towards the passing of bills which benefit the pharmaceutical industries.

It has been rumored that Lott resigned quickly in a deal to keep his position in Senate, and become the leader of Homeland Security. Some insist that he was pressured by his party, because his messages expose the feelings of some or most of the party’s members. One thing though, is certain; this is not the end of Trent Lott’s career.


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