Party Switch Gives Louisiana First Black Republican Since Reconstruction

by Ian Tuttle

It takes a lot of courage for a black politician to rebuff the Democratic party, which has controlled upward of the 90 percent of the black vote in recent years. Louder applause, then, for Louisiana state senator Elbert Guillory, who switched parties on May 31, becoming the first black Republican in the Louisiana legislature since Reconstruction.

At a conference hosted by @large, an organization that aims “to inspire, motivate, and encourage black conservatives to get involved in politics and build a constituency within their communities,” Guillory called the Democrats the “party of disappointment,” citing its support for social and economic policies that have hurt black communities. He also noted his increasing distaste for the party’s positions on abortion and immigration and its handling of the Benghazi scandal.

When it comes to precedents for his decision, Guillory noted one particularly well-known black right-winger: “I am as of this day joining Frederick Douglass as a Republican.” That’s pretty good company.