Senator Jesse Alexander Helms, Jr. was an ardent conservative politician. He struggled ruthlessly against social change. He stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of George Wallace in supporting the precept of racial segregation yesterday, segregation today and segregation tomorrow. The senator from North Carolina did a remarkable job, along with his compatriots, in their attempt to thwart social change in this country that would bring equality to all Americans.
Senator Helms saw this country through 18th century spectacles where white women knew their subservient place in society and people of color were no more than chattel to the white-male ruling class. It is people like the senator that makes me very proud of the hard-fought social war that black folks waged for the freedoms that we, now, enjoy.
Fortunately, today, warriors like Helms are only a handful, but their legacy continues. The possibility of conservative revitalization of the likes of a hundred years ago is highly unlikely. However, it is imperative that progressive thinkers continue to struggle for the inclusion of all in this great social experiment called democracy. We must keep America strong through its diverse skills-set, diverse perspectives and talents.
The best recognition of the life of Senator Jesse Helms is to appreciate the unity that the recalcitrant Helms and men of his ilk forced us to create in order to defeat the narrow philosophical view of this country and the world that they forged as policy.