Kansas: Black Republicans are raising their profile

by
January 17, 2012

By MARÁ ROSE WILLIAMS and GLENN E. RICE, The Kansas City Star

The isolation of being African-American and Republican rang clear to Sam Bain when he joined a group of about 100 other sign-waving protesters at a 2010 speech by President Barack Obama at Ohio State University.

“I was called a sellout, a racist, and one person even came right up to me and called me a house Negro. And they were black people. I was being attacked for being a black Republican,” he said.

But Bain stood his ground.

“It didn’t faze me,” said the 23-year-old senior at Wright State University in Ohio. “I’m not one to follow the herd. I’m not going to vote for a man just because he is black. I don’t agree with Obama’s policies. I judge a man by his policies and the content of his character, not the color of his skin. That’s what Martin Luther King Jr. would say.”

His is the same mantra touted by black Republicans who have become more vocal in recent years.

One example is the election of Allen West, a Florida Republican and an outspoken member of the tea party, who was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010.

Also businessman Herman Cain, who launched a bid for the Republican nomination for president before suspending his campaign last month.

As the nation reflects on the 83rd birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., young, black Republicans refer to the slain civil rights leader’s national call for diversity, equality and tolerance to support their right to espouse their political views, albeit conservative and counter to the traditional voices of the predominantly liberal, Democratic black community.

The GOP has a fractured history among African-Americans. For decades, many African-Americans identified themselves as Republican because it was the party of President Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

However, that changed by the late 1920s, when African-Americans leaders locally and nationally affiliated with the Democratic Party. That new political muscle would soon propel Franklin Roosevelt into the White House.

By the mid-1960s, more African-Americans identified themselves as Democrats.

Some young, black Republicans maintain there has always been a fair number of African-Americans sharing strong conservative views: belief in fiscal responsibility, limiting government and pulling oneself out of poor circumstance.

But because being identified as a black Republican wasn’t popular in their community and because their families may have traditionally voted Democratic, they hid their desire to connect with the Republican Party.

“I have had conversations with black people who leaned forward and whispered to me that either they were Republican or they voted Republican, like it is some terrible secret,” said Bev Randles, 39, an attorney and vocal Republican who lives in Kansas City, North.

To read more, visit: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/01/16/3372978/black-republicans-are-raising.html

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