This Presidential Speech on Race Shocked the Nation…in 1921
Ninety-five years ago today, Warren G. Harding traveled deep into the heart of Klan country and delivered a sermon on civil rights that was decades ahead of its time.
Photo courtesy History.com
In October 1921, the city of Birmingham, Alabama, celebrated its semi-centennial with the biggest party any of its 178,000 residents could remember. Founded fifty years earlier as the planned site for a major railroad crossing, Birmingham had become a thriving industrial center with an exploding population, earning it the nicknames “The Pittsburgh of the South” and “Magic City.” During the week of reverie, as The Birmingham News reported, an aerial circus flew over the city, turning loops across the smoke-stained sky. One performer hung from a rope by his teeth. Sixty-seven beauty queens from every county in Alabama took part in fashion shows, and two local baseball teams, the Elyton Warriors and the Cahaba Invincibles, dressed in period uniforms to play a game under the rules of the 1870s. But the festivities’ highlight was set for Wednesday, October 26: the day Warren G. Harding, the very popular 29th President of the United States would arrive. He’d been e…