by Raynard Jackson
Several of my readers of have questioned why I am writing positive articles about my Republican Party. The simple answer is that they deserve it. In the past, I have been very critical of my party because they have ignored the black community, disrespected our current president with incendiary language, and strayed away from our core principles and values.
Since last November’s elections, my party has seemed to have reflected on what happened during last year’s elections and have been open to positive criticism on how to best learn from the past. So, it’s not so much that my writing has changed as the facts have changed.
Current party chair Reince Priebus has begun to change the makeup of the party by beginning to hire minorities throughout the Republican National Committee (RNC). My writings have reflected my support for some of these changes and a continued willingness to work with the party to help it get back on track.
People need to remember that Priebus and the RNC are not policymaking entities. Rather, they are responsible for the execution of the principles advocated by the members of the RNC board and GOP members of Congress. The Congressional side of this equation leaves a lot to be desired, but one person on the Congressional side who really understands this issue is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
I was happy to receive a phone call from Cantor two weeks ago to discuss some of his recent activities to engage with the minority community, specifically the black community. I have known Cantor for many years and we have always enjoyed stimulating, honest conversations.
Last month, Cantor accepted the opportunity to go with civil rights icon and fellow Congressman John Lewis to attend the annual march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. Cantor grew up in segregated Richmond, Va. during the 60s. Somehow the hatred of blacks in the 60s didn’t seep into him and his family.
I hope Cantor will let me put together a town hall meeting with him to give him a forum to share with the public his reflections from Selma. He brought his son along with him and there is a fascinating event that happened as a result of this trip, but I will let Cantor share that story.
What is fascinating and embarrassing at the same time is that Cantor has come to understand that education is the civil rights of the 21st century for the black community; not homosexual marriage as claimed by Al Sharpton, Ben Jealous and Marc Morial.
I find it astonishing that a white, southern Congressman is more in tune with my community than the media-appointed black leaders. Cantor is working through a series of policy issues that I hope will lead to legislation that will benefit the black community.
Cantor is a man that deserves, at a minimum, more engagement from within the black community and I plan on working with him to make that happen. As Ronald Reagan once said, “My 80 percent friend is not my 20 percent enemy.” It’s not necessary for you to agree with everything Cantor believes in or accept the party that he represents. But if he is trying to create a better future for us and our kids, why would you not support and work with him?
If you agree with the media-appointed black leaders that homosexuality is the new civil rights, then continue to support them. However, if you believe that the new civil rights is education, then please reach out to Congressman Cantor and let’s help create a better future together.
Cantor has shown the Republicans in the House a pathway to the black vote. The question is, will they follow his example? Cantor is doing his part by reaching out to the black community, now will we return the favor? I await my community’s response.
(Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached via www.raynardjackson.com. Follow him on Twitter at raynard1223.)