By Charles D. Ellison
June lit up like Black Republican Month as the GOP made its latest push to brush up better credentials of color. Someone wants to show the party’s $10 million outreach investment being put to good use. Spend quick, fam, show some progress through the summer recess.
The Republican National Committee couldn’t contain itself on announcing the dedication of Frederick Douglass’ statue in the Capitol Hill Rotunda, quick to make first dib claims on the legendary abolitionist’s Republican roots. In a bizarre first, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) actually spoke publicly about another African American. So-called “listening sessions” with community leaders kicked off in Cleveland, OH. And RNC Chair Reince Priebus (whose name oddly conjures up strange inflections of a 1990s rapper) found his way onto the Tom Joyner Show alongside the normally boisterous Roland Martin who asked cookie-cutter ‘why-Republicans-hate-Black-folks’ questions as Joyner and Sybil Wilkes gawked on. The transcript, frankly, doesn’t do a whole lot of justice for anyone who was there.
Priebus popped up again, this time to the rescue of former Miss America Erika Harold GOP candidate for Illinois’ 13th Congressional District and the unwitting target of a richly bigoted tirade from Montgomery County, IL GOP Chair Jim Allen. That ended a rather Black week for the RNC in which two White guys, one demanding the other’s resignation, seemed to joust over the sister’s attention. But, that may have twisted itself into a silent win for the national GOP: who knew Republicans actually had a young, credible and mighty damn telegenic Black candidate possibly shaking things up in heavily Democratic Illinois?
But press lists and email inboxes went blazing recently upon the gleeful announcement of three fresh new Black politicos joining the Republican fold. Adding insult to injury, observed cheerful Black GOP rank and file, was that in each case it was a Democrat switching over to the other side. One senior Black Republican aide described it as a “… big deal” in response to skepticism from this end.
(Photo credit: Twitter/Erika Harold)