February is Black History Month and today I am attending the Republican National Committee “Black Republican Trailblazers” luncheon at The Howard Theater in Washington DC.
I am proud not just this month, but every month of the accomplishments and achievements black Americans have contributed to these United States.
My own story is one connected to the legacy of the first black men to don the uniform of America, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, whose valor shined brilliantly at Fort Wagner during the Civil War. As well, prior to myself, the last black Republican Member of Congress from Florida was Rep. Josiah T. Walls. These are the stories we must continue to tell this month, and every day to our next generation of children and grandchildren so they may never forget the service and sacrifices that enable them to have the blessings of liberty and freedom.
At the same time, it is imperative for the Republican Party to tell its story, not just during this month alone, but to engage continuously with the black community.
The “Grand Ole Party” was established in 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin for one single purpose: the abolition of slavery, a dark and heinous part of America’s history. The GOP was focused on the issue of individual freedom and ensuring the words of Thomas Jefferson came to fruition for America.
Sure, the start of the Civil War was not about the issue of slavery, but it was the first GOP president Abraham Lincoln, who realized after the stalemate victory at Antietam, that it had to be. The film “Lincoln” beautifully portrayed the dedication — and a little nefarious actions –of one man, of one party of men, to rectify a great wrong. They set in motion the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments that would begin to make our America a better country. The first black Members of Congress were Republicans. The first attempts to institute civil rights legislation came from Republicans.
The black community must never forget trailblazing men like Hiram Revels, Frederick Douglass, and Booker T. Washington. And today’s GOP needs to remember their history and connection to the black community as well.
Unfortunately, it was one person and one poor decision that altered the relationship between the black community and the GOP. That person was Richard Nixon. If Nixon had listened to prominent black Republicans such as Jackie Robinson rather than his coterie of white advisors, and supported Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as he had been jailed — history may have been a bit different.
Instead, for fear of upsetting white Southerners — mostly Democrats – Nixon did not reach out to King, while John Kennedy did. From then on, during that generation in the South, there were three pictures in black homes (including my own): Jesus, Martin Luther King Jr., and President Kennedy. In that one moment, the bond, the connection of the GOP to the black community, was severed.
From then on, the black community has put all its political eggs in one basket. But let me ask, how many of you invest your hard-earned capital in only one account? I believe most people diversify their capital in several investment accounts.
So, why is it that the black community invested all its political capital in one party? Liberal progressive detractors will vehemently throw themselves into a tizzy about this, but clearly in America, the black community has become almost politically irrelevant to one party and taken for granted by the other, to whom they have given blind allegiance.
The history of the black community at the hands of the Democrat party has been one of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, poll taxes and literacy tests. America’s first “progressive” President Woodrow Wilson even praised the racist film “Birth of a Nation.” Another American progressive president, Lyndon Johnson, put the black community on the road to decimation with the welfare nanny-state, and just look at the destruction of the black family.
The current progressive president, Barack Obama, cancelled the DC school voucher program in 2009 for deserving young black children, caving to pressure from the National Education Association, a Democrat teacher’s union. My liberal colleague at Fox News Channel, Juan Williams, called the decision to end the program, “Obama’s outrageous sin against our kids.”
So today we shall remember and honor the Black Republican Trailblazers of the past as we develop the Black Republican Pathfinders of the future. Those who will clear a new path for the black community to restore our inner cities, our families, our faith in God, and ring in the harmony of liberty. I am proud to be a black conservative Republican. Hate on me all you want, but my community has survived much worse from Democrats and progressives. And we shall persevere.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com under the title “Black History Month and the Republican legacy.” Featured image courtesy of Marie-Nacc Bez, Val de Marne, Ile de France, France.