Up until the last fifteen years or so the Republican Party had a long proud history on Civil Rights. Thanks to moderate and progressive Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller and classical conservative Republicans like Everett Dirksen. Civil Rights doesn’t pass in Congress in the 1960s without the help of Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen. And him bringing Republican Senators with him to cut off a Senate filibuster led by Southern Democrats.
Southern Democrats who would be far-right Republicans today. And who left the Democratic Party shortly after the civil rights laws of the 1960s were passed, people like Strom Thurmond. It was President Abraham Lincoln who of course was a Republican, who freed the African slaves and saved the United States. But Abe Lincoln would probably be considered a Liberal by today's Republican Party. All of these civil rights laws doesn’t pass without Republican votes. Which is a credit to the Republican Party, but the “Party of Lincoln” is no longer that party, but a Party of Religious and Neoconservatives.
Neoconservatives who see civil rights laws as an intrusion on states rights. When in the 1960s these laws passed because of help from Congressional Republicans in the House and Senate. “The Party of Lincoln” is now a party that bashes people for their sexuality. Or for not being a Christian, or speaking a foreign language. Or speaking with a foreign accent. Or for what music they listen to, or what they do with their free time. The “Party of Lincoln” is no longer that Party and it's no longer the “Party of Reagan”. But the Party of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum.
The Republican Party has a long great history when it comes to civil rights. But to state the obvious, history is in the past tense. The GOP’s recent record isn’t that good and to know this, all you have to do is look at the GOP as far as how African and Latin-American Voters vote for. The two largest racial minorities in America. They overwhelmingly vote Democratic and is something the GOP is going to have to correct, to remain a major political party.