Can Republicans woo African Americans?
February 1, 2002
The South Carolina GOP announced yesterday that they were starting a concerted effort to reach out to the African American community. It begins with a establishing a task force. Its goal? To spread the "Republican philosophy and message into the African American community." They are to make themselves available to "listen to and understand their concerns, hopes and goals."
A release, touting the initiative hit the wire yesterday. It states the mission of the "Outreach Committee" as "to develop a message, based on Republican principles and philosophy, to reach out to concerned citizens within the African American community, and to recognize and act upon their input."
Is this for real or is it for show in anticipation of the "Black History Month" of February? If it is for real, does the committee stand a chance? What does the Republican Party need to do to woo more African Americans to the "Party of Lincoln?"
The Party touts this committee as being the "the first standing committee of its kind to be created by the State Republican Party." It is clear that they hope the symbolism of the establishment of the task force will open doors to the African American community. Time is the only measure that will prove if the symbolism is a reflection of true substance. Upstate Common Voice will wait and see.
A step in the right direction is the membership of the committee, It includes Dr. Leslie Lovett, Senior Electrical Engineer with Square D Corporation, Pastor of Pleasant Spring A.M.E. Church, and President of The George Rogers Foundation. Members of the committee include Pastor Eddie Guess, Dr. Willis C. Ham, Mrs. Sheila Massey, Mrs. Celestine Parker, Bishop Johnnie Smith, Mr. Hal Stevenson, and Captain Ron Thomas. Now, if the mission is taken seriously and the Party leadership will listen to the recommendation of the committee, perhaps some headway can be made.
Dr. Lovett points out that African Americans have voted Democratic over the years to the point where it has become a habit. However, it goes deeper than that. It is more than a simple habit. It is a way of life. Republicans may not like to hear this, but the truth is that most African Americans that choose to be active Republicans are looked to be traitors to their community. There are black Republicans who could do much for the Republican Party, but to do so is to bring division to their family. "No," you say, "It isn't that bad!" Yes, it is that bad. The above statement is based on a true story of an intelligent, charismatic black Republican who was recruited to get more visibly involved in the Party.
Now, there is no desire to stereotype here and paint all African Americans as Democrats. There are probably more conservative members of the community than most people believe. There is great potential to reach more conservatives, but it will take much more than an "Outreach Committee." The Republican Party needs to have an "outreach commitment" that permeates the entire party.
The committee will succeed if the Republican Party can:
1. Actively recruit conservative African Americans, recognize and reward their sacrifice to go against the status quo.
2. Work to destroy the welfare system, as we know it.
3. Identify the brightest of African American youths and mentor them with personal involvement and financial educational aid.
4. Build non-political relationships with African American leaders within the business community.
5. Practice affirmative action—not as a government requirement, but as a personal choice.
None of this can happen over night. However, as McMaster stated, "We recognize from the first day of this Outreach Committee's existence that this project will require long-term planning and effort to realize a future goal. We must first build a foundation within the African American community, and then continue steady building until participation is realized. The Republican Party is open to all who want to participate."
We hear you, Henry. Now, show us.