Photo courtesy Mitt Romney
Photo courtesy Mitt Romney

Gov. George Romney and his son Sen. Mitt Romney both marched for civil rights, both in resistance of leaders of their political party.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) followed in his father’s footsteps by marching with demonstrators demanding reform following the death of George Floyd. He was inspired by his father, who marched in Detroit during his time as Michigan’s Republican leader decades ago. 

Sen. Romney quoted his father in a tweet Saturday.

“Force alone will not eliminate riots,” Gov. Romney said. “We must eliminate the problems from which they stem.”

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George Romney was a three-term governor of Michigan at the height of the civil rights movement from 1963 to 1969. As governor, the elder Romney was an active figure in that movement. From declaring “Freedom Day” to coincide with a march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to delivering speeches at Black churches with Lyndon Johnson, George Romney put a dedication to the rights of Black Michiganders ahead of politics.

Gov. Romney built a relationship with King, and marched with fellow Christians demanding real change.

“Michigan’s most urgent human rights problem is racial discrimination — in housing, public accommodations, education, administration of justice, and employment,” George Romney said in one State of the State address.

In 1964, George Romney led the charge to put anti-discrimination policies in the Republican Party’s platform. When that was resisted by presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, Romney refused to support Goldwater’s campaign. Romney also spent time that year lobbying for the passage of the Civil Rights Act. 

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And George Romney led Michigan toward justice at a time when his own faith resisted racial equality, denying “priesthood” to Black men, notes The Atlantic

How Romney’s Words Still Resonate with Michiganders Today 

As lawful demonstrators protested in Washington last week, they were subjected to tear gas (a chemical weapon banned in war) and rubber bullets after violent calls from President Trump, who seeks to quell protesters through force alone. All in the interest of a photo opportunity outside a church Trump didn’t even enter. 

And in drawing the comparison between himself and his father, Romney draws the comparison between today’s demonstrations and the Civil Rights movement. 

“We need a voice against racism. We need many voices against racism and against brutality. We need to stand up and say that black lives matter,” Sen. Romney told NBC

Like George Romney before him, Mitt Romney joined with protesters of color to demand justice and police reform. 

Republican Opposition 

Like George Romney’s resistance against Barry Goldwater, Mitt Romney is standing up to power within his own generation’s Republican party standing against those values. Romney has long served as a critic of Trump, notably not voting for him in 2016 but writing in his wife’s name instead. 

Like his father, Romney is willing to fight his own party’s leadership when his principles demand it. When asked if he would vote for Trump on Monday, Romney said he was intending to keep quiet on the subject for the moment, though the Hill notes that he has expressed a clear refusal to cast a ballot for Trump in the past. He also indicated his intent to say so plainly in the future.

“I’m not going to be describing who I’ll be voting for. I don’t imagine my plan is to stay quiet on that,” he told reporters Monday.

For now, though, Romney has been an example of Republican opposition to Trump. Being the lone Republican vote to convict Trump on articles of impeachment, being a vocal critic and most recently marching with protesters Trump had gassed. 

And all the while, Mitt Romney echoes the bold actions of his father.

“We need to end violence and brutality and make sure people understand that black lives matter,” Romney said while marching