On Thursday, as part of her effort to “appropriately observe Juneteenth” on Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the removal of portraits in the Capitol of House Speakers who had served in the Confederacy.
Actor James Woods, whose disdain for Pelosi has been on display many times before, fired a salient question at her, tweeting, “How about your buddy, KKK leader Robert Byrd?”
How about your buddy, KKK leader Robert Byrd? https://t.co/8DmX8YVyOX
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) June 18, 2020
Byrd, the longest-serving senator and member of Congress in U.S. history, served as Senate Majority Leader between January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1989and Senate Minority Leader between January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1987. Once a member of the KKK, he wrote in 1944, “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.”
The Washington Post noted after Byrd died, “As a young man, Mr. Byrd was an ‘exalted cyclops’ of the Ku Klux Klan. Although he apologized numerous times for what he considered a youthful indiscretion, his early votes in Congress–notably a filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act–reflected racially separatist views.”
The Senate issued a statement in 2007 saying, “The U.S. Senate Commission on Art announces the unveiling of a new painting of U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) at a ceremony in the historic Old Senate Chamber of the U.S. Capitol. The portrait, painted by Tennessee artist Michael Shane Neal, is part of the U.S. Senate Leadership Portrait Collection, which honors Senate leaders.”
After Byrd died in 2010, Pelosi lauded him in a statement in which she said:
Senator Robert Byrd’s extraordinary life has been shaped by service to his state, love of his country, and commitment to the common good. Throughout his historic career in the House and Senate, he never stopped working to improve the lives of the people of West Virginia. While some simply bore witness to history, Senator Byrd shaped it – and strove to build a brighter future for us all …
Senator Byrd took pride in his status as Congress’ foremost scholar on the Constitution, on the Senate, and on the institutions of our democracy. He never hesitated to speak truth to power. He was a voice of reason during times of war and economic hardship. He was always a gentleman, capable of charming any friend or foe. And he always stood on principle, even when others did not.
As Fox News noted, “Pelosi sent a letter to the House Clerk Cheryl Johnson requesting the removal of four previous House Speakers to honor Juneteenth, which is observed June 19 and commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.”
Pelosi wrote, “To appropriately observe Juneteenth this year, I write today to request the immediate removal of the portraits in the U.S. Capitol of four previous Speakers who served in the Confederacy: Robert Hunter of Virginia (1839-1841), Howell Cobb of Georgia (1849-1851), James Orr of South Carolina (1857-1859), and Charles Crisp of Georgia (1891-1895) … The portraits of these men are symbols that set back our nation’s work to confront and combat bigotry.”
“Pelosi is also trying to remove 11 Confederate statues from the Capitol but needs others to sign off,” Fox News pointed out.
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