Why Romney MarchedBreaking News
tags: civil rights, Mitt Romney, George Romney, Fair Housing
In reality, Romney’s path to yesterday’s Black Lives Matter protest began half a century earlier with his father—a man whose legacy has long shaped, and sometimes haunted, his son.
George Romney was the Republican governor of Michigan during the 1967 Detroit riots, which left 43 people dead and 2,000 buildings destroyed. In the aftermath of the violence, he addressed his constituents in a statewide broadcast.
“Some already are saying the answer is brute force such as would be used on mad dogs,” the governor said. “Others are questioning present social and economic programs because they claim Negroes don’t appreciate what has already been done … As citizens of Michigan, as Americans, we must unhesitatingly reject all these divisive courses.”
As the journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has detailed, George went on to enact a fair-housing law in his state, and called for an end to discriminatory zoning practices. When white voters sent him angry letters, he would write back, “Force alone will not eliminate riots. We must eliminate the problems from which they stem.”
The elder Romney was well known for such acts of defiance. Whether he was denouncing Barry Goldwater at the Republican National Convention or crusading against segregationist policies from inside the Nixon administration, he prided himself on putting principle over party—especially when it came to civil rights.
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