Black Republican Trailblazers
By William Reed
The top Black Republicans in the country recently joined Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as he honored “Black Republican Trailblazers” in his latest attempt to make inroads into the Black community. During the event at the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill, Priebus put the party’s strong suit on parade.
In saluting “Black Enterprise” Priebus paid homage to Republican role models William T. Coleman and Robert J. Brown, chairman and CEO of B&C Associates, Inc. Coleman is a former U.S. Secretary of Transportation under Gerald Ford, and Brown is a former presidential aide to Richard Nixon. Both trailblazers have made immeasurable contributions toward Blacks doing business in America. When it comes to the business of America, the GOP has no political peer. Capitalism is a key Republican Party pillar, and these trailblazers made great marks on Black Americans’ businesses and opportunities.
During President Richard Nixon’s tenure in office, Brown served as the White House’s liaison in Black communities. In ways not occurring today, Brown dealt with issues related to civil rights legislation, funding for jobs, Black colleges and inner-city housing. As Blacks became frustrated with economic conditions that didn’t improve despite advancements in civil rights, the Nixon administration addressed economic empowerment by sponsoring strong minority business initiatives. Before and after his stint at the White House, Brown retained his standing as a successful businessman. He founded B&C in 1960.
During the 1950s, Coleman helped President Dwight D. Eisenhower increase minority hiring in the government, something he also did while serving as Secretary of Transportation. He co-authored the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s brief on Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education. He successfully argued cases that compelled the admission of Blacks into segregated universities.
The event’s keynote speaker happened to be the owner of the country’s largest African-American-owned business. David L. Steward, is chairman and founder of World Wide Technology, Inc. (WWT), a top Black Enterprise business. WWT is a systems integration company based in St. Louis. The company employs more than 1,700 people and operates more than 2,000,000-square-feet of warehousing, distribution and integration space in 21 facilitiesthroughout the world. WWT’s 2011 revenue was $4.1 billion. Former President George H.W. Bush said Steward’s “story of success epitomizes the American Dream and … an inspiration to us all.”
Chairman Priebus is set on “taking the Republican message to the streets.” The question is: How receptive will Blacks be? Republicans like and applaud entrepreneurs. The GOP hierarchy appreciates job generators and creators. Historically, the Republicans believe in personal responsibility and actions, and that all material things are earned, not owed. They believe private spending is usually more efficient than public spending and that the private sector and/or the individual are better suited to control their own lives. There should be a way for African Americans and the Republicans to get together.
Black party members want Priebus to change the party’s performance with minority voters. African-American RNC National Committeeman Glenn McCall of South Carolina told the gathering of Black Baby Boomers and Millennials that, “The Republican Party must compete in every state and every region, building relationships with communities we haven’t before … as we must stop talking about ‘reaching out’ and start ‘welcoming in.’” North Carolina’s Black RNC National Committeewoman Ada Fisher said: “Republicans must be willing to go into local minority communities and hold town hall meetings and banter. … It’s time to advocate for issues and causes that directly affect minority populations … and staff to tout and pursue Blacks.”
A Black Republican in personal and political ascent is conservative commentator and entrepreneur, Armstrong Williams. A protégée of Brown, Williams emphasized that GOP values mirror those of many enterprising Blacks in America who support: “safe families, good education and economic empowerment.” Williams commented that “There are many conservative Blacks … disgruntled with President Obama … We need to hook up with them to initiate business principles and practices that work.” Williams used the occasion to announce the acquisition of two television stations: WEYI-TV in the Flint/Saginaw/Michigan and WWMB-TV in the Myrtle Beach/Florence, S.C. area.