WASHINGTON, September 23, 2013 – Last Thursday, former Oklahoma Congressman J. C. Watts and 2003 Miss America Erika Harold led a small but enthusiastic group of black Republican faithful to rally around empowerment issues.
While 10,000 liberal black democrats filled the convention center for the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference, the smaller group was no less vocal in their desire to get out their message - a message of conservative, family values based on a constitutional government - out.
Erika Harold, Miss America 2003 and now seeking Illinois office, represents the new generation of black Republican office seekers. Harold is challenging an incumbent in the 13th congressional district in the Champaign/Urbana area of central Illinois.
The former Miss American shared that she ran in the pagent as she had been accepted to Harvard law school and did not have enough money to pay for it. Through scholarships earned as Miss America Harold was able to not only go to law school but graduate debt-free.
“I want our party to reflect the diversity in our country. Sometimes it’s not enough to do outreach. If you see an opportunity to change things that matter in your country and you feel you can do a better job in defending the ideals of the conservative movement and your party. You have to step up and lead”, said a determined Ms. Harold.
J. C. Watts came to announce his participation in ‘Insight America’ a new organization dedicated to promoting more diversity in the Republican Party.
“I don’t want more outreach, I want more inclusion. I have been in the Republican Party for 20 years to do outreach, but I just got it into my thick head,” Watt’s said. “Outreach says that I’m going to bake a cake and invite you over to eat it-that’s outreach. I want to ask Erika to help bake the cake – that’s inclusion”.
As the former face of the black republican congressional caucus, Mr. Watts an ordained minister was not bitter about the party’s current state but he made it clear he wasn’t interested in any more advisory roles.
“I’m not signing on for any more Black Advisory councils, because you never get advised,” said Mr. Watts. “How many have known the last three Republican Party chairman? Of the three that I’m aware of - Mike Duncan, Michael Steele and Rance Prievus - I know Michael Steele, but I don’t know any of the others.”
“I don’t know the chairman of the Republican Party, I’ve never met him, a lot of it is our fault, we put up with it!” Mr. Watts said. “You have to give some thought to what the head table looks like if you want to be the majority party. We don’t do relationships well in the Republican Party.”
“Establishing deeper relationships is the key to reaching non-traditional communities and that has got to be important”, said the brutally frank former All American quarterback and four term congressman from Oklahoma.
Among the award winners was syndicated columnist William Reed who received the Robert L. Vann Columnist award that was named for the publisher of the Pittsburgh Courier, the leading black newspaper during the period before desegregation.
“I want to leave you with a thought about the large retailer accountability Act that right here in the District of Columbia demonstrates the difference between a Democrat and Republican. Democrats want to concentrate on raising the minimum wage, while Republicans think entrepreneurially and focus on owning the store”, said the Mr. Reed.
Communities writer Charles Badger was honored with The Booker T. Washington Journalist Award by the Communities writer/editor, and RBE board member Richard Ivory.
Also present and representing Communities was Mistress of Ceremonies Tiffany Shorter, Opionion writer Crystal Wright, The Conservative Black Chick and Communities managing editor Jacquie Kubin who spoke on how RBE members could use new media and social media to promote their message.
The reception was sponsored by the Republicans for Black Empowerment whose mission it is to raise the value of black America’s political capital by increasing awareness of the upside offered by conservative solutions.
The event attracted a surprisingly diverse cross section of from Jill Hanson, the white female Chairman of the DC Republican Party to office holders and candidates from Philadelphia, Ohio and Illinois.
Even more impressive were the enthusiastic young candidates such as Erika Harold who seek to carry on the legacy of trailblazers like J. C. Watts.
For more information on the Republicans for Black Empowerment visit their website. The groups advisory council includes:
Donald E. Scoggins, President (VA)
Lorin Crenshaw, Vice President (LA)
Dr. Ada Fisher (NC)
Richard Ivory (NY)
Johnnie Morgan (CA)
JoLinda Ruth Cogen (NY)
Andrew Simon (Canada)
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