With the theme “Reimagining the Dream,” Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF) held its fifth Black Republican Trailblazer Awards Luncheon, honoring five individuals who have made significant contributions to the Black community and to the Republican Party.
BAFBF Founder Raynard Jackson, 56, said he established the annual event to illustrate that Black Republicans have long been leaders in their hometowns, contributors to the Party and successful in their respective professions.
“Some may want to brush Black Republicans off as Uncle Toms — as Blacks who don’t keep it real — but that’s simply not true,” said Jackson, a political strategist, public relations executive and longtime member of the Republican Party. “This luncheon salutes African-Americans from across the U.S. who are truly deserving members of the Republican Party, who have made a real difference in their communities and who President Trump and our party leadership should not only be highlighting but seeking their advice and counsel,” Jackson said.
The event, held in Northwest on Sunday, Feb. 12, saluted the following: Gerald Boyd Sr., president of DB Consulting, Washington, D.C.; Maxine Blake, Ohio civil rights icon; Alan Inman, president, Global Peace Foundation, Lanham, MD; Richard Finley, COO, Finley Group Inc., Birmingham, AL; and Robert Wallace, CEO, Bithgroup Technologies, Inc., Baltimore.
BAFBF, a 527 Political Action Committee, stands as the only 527 dedicated to attracting Blacks to the Republican Party and focuses primarily on African-American entrepreneurs. One awardee offered a challenge to his fellow Republicans.
“On the heels of our country electing our first Black president, Republicans should be looking within our ranks for the first female president as well as the next Black man to lead America – -and there will be another Black man in the White House,” Wallace said. “We have much to offer but we need to be more intentional as we convey our message and our principles.”
One resident from Southeast and the chairman of a local media broadcasting network said a large number of Blacks in the U.S. are members of the Republican Party — a fact that may be a surprise to some.
“I was first attracted to the Party when I was in high school because Republicans ascribe to personal responsibility, economic sovereignty and to the belief that one’s character is key to becoming successful in society,” said Kenneth McClenton, 50, a lifelong D.C. resident and chairman of the Executive Conservative Network, a contingency of conservative talk show hosts.
“I’m disappointed with Trump’s lack of diversity within his cabinet. Still, there are Blacks working for GOP officials in Congress and for the Republican Party. However, the prevailing narrative suggests that we don’t exist. We may be overlooked but we’re contributing members of the Party.”
Corey D. Fields, author of “Black Elephants in the Room: The Unexpected Politics of African American Republicans,” says the task of aligning black identity with the Republican Party continues to be a significant challenge.
“Even though significant numbers of African-Americans would define their political ideology as conservative or express conservative social values, that conservatism rarely translates into Republican partisanship. As a consequence, very few Republicans are Black. They are a minority within both the Black and the Republican communities,” Fields writes.
Philadelphian Carvin Haggins, 47, joined the Republican Party at the age of 16 and says many Americans went to sleep during the Obama presidency.
“We have to reestablish an entrepreneurial spirit — one of the primary tenets of the Republican Party,” he said. “Donald Trump is shaking up the Party and shaking up America. We need to wake up. But there’s a natural tendency to fear change. But change has come.”
Former Lt. Governor of Florida, Jennifer Carroll, says as the president becomes more familiar with the Republican Party she believes he will reach out to more African-Americans.
“At this point I would call it problematic that there are almost no Blacks among the ranks in the Trump Administration. But he’s still forming his team. I don’t think he’s familiar with the number of Blacks who have been members of the Party for many years and who have much to contribute. He’s been relying on the old vanguard and choosing from among their recommendations. We have to let him know we’re here, we’re talented, we’re capable and ready to step in and serve.” Carroll said.
Omarosa Manigault, Trump’s director of communications, said the President remains committed to establishing a team that better reflects the racial makeup of the country.
“President Trump’s message is that we must encourage, embrace and engage Blacks both for his Administration and for the Republican National Committee. Those [Blacks] who want to serve in the Party and be part of this new movement will find that they’re welcome to join us — the door is open,” she said.