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Black History Month play reenacts rally of 1908

January 30, 2014

What prompted African Americans to abandon the Republican Party -- the party of Abraham Lincoln? The 'Breaking Away' play reveals what precipitated the 1908 Negro National Anti-Taft League rally which urged blacks to make a move to the Democratic party.

An event that helped turn blacks away from the Republican party: The 25th Infantry Regiment was falsely implicated in the murder of a Brownsville, Texas merchant. Republican President  Teddy Roosevelt dishonorably discharged 167 soldiers. Six of them were Medal of Honor recipients.Monday, Feb. 3
7-8:30 p.m.
Lory Student Center
North Ballroom

Rally galvanized blacks

A series of incendiary events prompted the Negro National Anti-Taft League to organize a Denver rally following Democratic Convention of 1908. The rally developed a strategic plan that encouraged blacks to move from the Republican to the Democratic party.

'Breaking Away' play

Relive this historical event through 'Breaking Away,' a dramatic play performed by Colorado State University students and scripted by the Denver School of Arts. The event is being held in connection with Black History Month at Colorado State.

Early Republican support

After the Emancipation Proclamation and the 1868 amendment giving African American males the right to vote, blacks stepped into the Republican party and were given full support by white Republicans. In fact, there were two African American governors in 1800.

Party splits into racial factions

Eventually the alliance between black and white Republicans began to erode. In 1889, U.S. President Harrison declared whites as the only legitimate members of the Republican Party.

The media coined the phrases, "Lily Whites" to describe the all-white delegates and clubs within the party, and "Black and Tan," to describe the black and multi-racial delegates.

After the Emancipation Proclamation, racists murdered many black Republicans and some white Republicans who supported them.

In 1906, false accusations were made against black soldiers in the 25th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army, implicating them in the murder of a Brownsville, Texas white merchant.

President Theodore Roosevelt waited until after the congressional election before dishonorably discharging one-hundred and sixty-seven soldiers. It was not until 1972 that the Army exonorated them and declared them innocent.

Experience the Negro National Anti-Taft League's rally that took place on August, 13 of 1908 in this lively reenactment by Colorado State University students.

Contact: Black/African American Cultural Center