Swing for the Fence
Charles Robinson III
With the floor packed Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele Tuesday night answered the challenge from the Republican Party leadership, redefine Black Republicans. In a speech laced with metaphors and ante dotes Steel was able to mesmerized Black delegates, but failed to create any long term attention span for most white delegates on the floor. The lead-up to the speech probably created some unrealistic expectations and unfair comparisons to Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic Convention. In private conversations with the Lieutenant Governor he confided he felt matching that speech word for word was a little over the top. Some of the poignant moments form the speech included the reference to his mother, “Mabel Turner always saw the hope that her kids would be better off then she was. And she channeled her hope for that legacy. Today Mabel Turner has a daughter who’s an accomplished pediatrician and a son who is the Lieutenant Governor of Maryland.”
Where the governor went off the proverbial “reservation,” were his references to John Kerry. It is the Republican National Convention and bashing Kerry has been a theme that has run through every speaker. Steele would have been better served if he offer an “invitation” to people of color to re-examine there own personal political views. Predictably, those in the Blacks in the crowd saw the speech in glowing terms as evident by the comments from Jacqueline Gordon of Bowie, Maryland, “This is a new day, Black Republicans have come of age.”
But it was the comments of Joseph Phillips, actor turn political commentator, that were a bit more cautious. “It (African-Americans becoming Republicans) is not going to happen overnight, but Black people are already considering it. Polls are showing Black people are leaving the Democratic Party, but there not flocking in large numbers to the Republican Party.” The work the party has to do is massive. They will have to find issues that click and make sense. Bashing the Democrats is not the answer.
Lastly while listening to the speech on the floor and doing interviews a crew from the History Channel started asking me questions about African-Americans and the GOP. For those of you who know me…they got a candid and blunt discussion about Black Republicans. The segment, if it doesn’t end up on the cutting room floor will air this Friday, September 3, 2004, 7 pm.
In the next installment Black Republicans and faith, and gay marriage the wedge issue that could pose a problem for church going African-Americans.