August 10, 2010

(Helen Gahagan Douglas - coined the phrase "Tricky Dick" in referring to Nixon)

(sorry, I gotta do it)

Helen Gahagan Douglas had several distinctions during her short-lived career in politics. She was one of the first women to be elected to Congress, one of the very first who went from an acting profession to politics (and you thought Reagan was the first), and was probably the first to be the victim of the vicious smear tactics employed by another upstart Congressman, Richard Nixon. It was during a particularly virulent campaign that Douglas coined the phrase "Tricky Dick" in referring to Nixon. Nixon, in turn claimed "Douglas was Pink all the way down to her underwear". Ah, the good old days of ruthless personal smears!

Helen Gahagan Douglas was a Congresswoman from California who went on to be defeated in her bid for the Senate in 1948 by Richard Nixon. But up to that time, she was a tireless advocate for Civil Rights legislation and had introduced several Anti-Lynching bills to the House in the 1940's.

This talk, given in 1948 follows that theme, the subject of racial discrimination in hiring and housing.

Helen Gahagan Douglas: “We are a nation blessed by God with material riches beyond all others, Our mountains, our plains, our rivers, our harbors, have given us industry and commerce, agriculture and mining resources that are the envy and the despair of the rest of the world. Our richest and our greatest resource however, is people. People living under free and fair institutions which permit them to develop fully the talents God gave them. We waste this resource if we sanction discrimination.”

Sadly, none of her introduced legislation ever won passage and she left politics after suffering a 59% defeat in her bid for the Senate. She is probably better known today as the Woman Nixon smeared by allegedly tying her to Communist causes. But at the time she was trying to make a difference. History wound up being on her side in the end.

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