Reid's Black History Month Op-ed

Harry Reid's Black History Month column met with skepticism, incredulity.

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Shortly after Harry Reid's "Negro dialect" contretemps died down, the Nevada Senator posted a Black History Month essay on his page. In it, he  he recalls his struggle for racial integration in Las Vegas:

I worked hard during my time in local politics in Nevada to integrate the Las Vegas strip and the gaming industry. I backed affirmative action in federal contracting and sharply criticized the Supreme Court when they turned Brown v. Board on its head and ruled against cities' efforts to diversify their schools.

His recollection, however, hasn't played well with historians of the movement. As AOL News's Steve Friess reports, Joe Neal--a former a key figure in Nevada's civil rights movement--"was baffled by the claim."

For one thing, Reid was only 20 when a famous 1960 meeting between casino owners, progressive government officials and NAACP leaders resulted in an accord to integrate Las Vegas casinos for customers.

Friess also notes that Reid's 2008 memoir, "The Good Fight” lacks any mention of his involvement:

The words "integration" and "African-American" do not appear anywhere in the book, and the only reference to black people is a recollection of Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color barrier and an instance where he defended a black man accused in a robbery-homicide whose case no other attorney would take.

Republicans vying to unseat Reid, like businessman Danny Tarkanian, are quickly spinning Reid’s op-ed as a heavy-handed effort to compensate for the "Negro dialect" remark. Says Tarkanian: "he's making one outlandish statement after the other, and I don't think he feels it'll ever catch up with him." Michael Arceneaux of AOL echoes Tarkanian's forecast of political complications for Reid:

On top of battling perceptions that his views on racial politics are archaic, he will have to contend with a credibility issue in a re-election campaign where he's already suffering…All of which would have been easily avoided had Reid been advised to do one thing: Stop trying so hard.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.