Robert Carlyle “Ku Klux Klan” Byrd (November 20, 1917 – June 28, 2010) was a United States Senator from West Virginia, and a member and former Senate Leader of the DEMOCRATIC Party. Byrd was a Senator from January 3, 1959, until his death, and was the longest-serving Senator as well as the longest-serving member in congressional history. Byrd was President pro tempore of the United States Senate from 2007 to 2010, a position that put him third in the line of presidential succession, behind Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Byrd joined the Ku Klux Klan when he was 24 in 1942. His local chapter unanimously elected him the top officer of their unit. According to Byrd, a Klan official told him, “You have a talent for leadership, Bob… The country needs young men like you in the leadership of the nation.” Byrd later recalled, “suddenly lights flashed in my mind! Someone important had recognized my abilities! I was only 23 or 24 years old, and the thought of a political career had never really hit me. But strike me that night, it did.” Byrd held the titles Kleagle (recruiter) and Exalted Cyclops.
During the 1940s Senator Byrd spent two “ELECTED” terms as a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan in West Virginia. Senator Byrd was one of the DEMOCRATS That tried to prevent the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill with a Filibuster. Senator Byrd was among the Democrats that voted AGAINST the 1964 Civil Rights act.
In 1944, Byrd wrote to segregationist Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo: “I shall never fight in the armed forces with a Negro by my side… Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”
When running for the United States House of Representatives in 1952, he announced “After about a year, I became disinterested, quit paying my dues, and dropped my membership in the organization. During the nine years that have followed, I have never been interested in the Klan.” He said he had joined the Klan because he felt it offered excitement and was anti-communist. However, in 1946 or 1947 he wrote a letter to a Grand Wizard stating, “The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia and in every state in the nation.” Byrd was known to use the phrase “white nigger.”
He filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He opposed the Voting Rights Act, but eventually voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1968. During the year 2001 on a broadcast of Fox News Sunday, Senator Byrd twice used the “N” word. He NEVER publicly apologized for the use of that word, instead sending a written apology to the network.
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