The Missouri Democratic Party is changing the name of its annual “Jefferson-Jackson” fundraising dinner, deleting the names of slave-owning party heroes Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. The party will instead honor avowed racist Harry Truman.
Though the state party denied that the name change was due to racial issues, Democratic state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, who has called for the name to be changed, said that it was probably due to race. Every state Democratic party holds an early-summer Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently attended the dinners in Arkansas and Virginia.
But the Missouri party’s decision to instead name the dinner for Harry Truman might not have been the most racially savvy choice.
“I think one man is just as good as another so long as he’s honest and decent and not a nigger or a Chinaman,” Truman wrote as a 27-year old in 1911. “Uncle Will says that the Lord made a white man from dust, a nigger from mud, then He threw up what was left and it came down a Chinaman.”
“[Uncle Will] does hate Chinese and Japs,” Truman wrote. “So do I. It is race prejudice, I guess. But I am strongly of the opinion Negroes ought to be in Africa, yellow men in Asia and white men in Europe and America.”
Though Truman nearly lost the 1948 Democratic nomination when Southern Democrats walked out of the convention due to Truman’s mildly progressive racial policies at the time, his personal beliefs were pretty firmly racist.
As a U.S. senator, Truman told his daughter in a letter that the White House waitstaff was comprised of “an army of coons.”