TRAILBLAZERS AT 7th & T IN WASHINGTON DC
It’s a cool, clear afternoon in Washington D.C. with just enough snow remaining along the edges of sidewalks and in tree boxes to remind pedestrians of the mini-blizzard that just blew through the city. As a colleague and I make our way from the subway station to our destination we face a chilly headwind. We have one corner to turn and we should be almost there. Heading around the corner of the last leg of our short trip, our conversation is about the “Golden Age” of the U Street corridor and all the personalities, clubs and…whoa! Didn’t expect this. There are about 30 people ahead of us and they are in line waiting to be admitted into the building we are headed for. In front of the building is a chartered bus with a sign on it indicating that the passengers are from Ohio. These political stalwarts have braved ice and snow to be here this afternoon. All of us are standing on T Street N.W. in Washington D.C. between 7th Street and Wiltberger Street N.W. This is arguably one of the most famous intersections in the history of this traditionally black area of uptown D.C. known as LeDroit Park. Above us is an elaborate neon sign announcing the location of the Howard Theater…impressive and historic.
Howard University’s Theater
Today, the junction of 7th and T Street in Washington D.C. bears little resemblance to its former self. The inexorable advance of gentrification is now evident in all directions. There was a time when this section of D.C. bustled with a vibrancy produced singularly by the black residents in this tight-knit community. This was the place where black college students from local colleges and universities, the African American social and political intelligentsia, hustlers of all types and an assortment of talented entertainers – some aspiring and others well-established – melded into a dynamic, organic community. At the vortex of all of this activity was the world renowned “Howard Theater.”
The theater, built in 1910 to provide a venue for showcasing black talent, fell into disrepair after the 1968 riots that devastated the area. Its decline was somewhat analogous to the plight of black Republicans in America’s political party system; after being marginalized, ridiculed and castigated because of their party affiliation by the mainstream media, they are resurrecting themselves almost phoenix-like after decades of popular indifference towards them. On this crisp, brisk day in the first week February 2014 a group of 300 black Republicans gathered at the classically refurbished Howard Theater to honor its distinguished leaders, past and present, for their service and dedication to the party. The venue was highly appropriate and the program, again this year, was poignant in its message while tastefully charming in its format. The Howard University Choir performed a stirring rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” That song affects me in a powerful, personal way and I am sure it made a similar impression upon most of those at the affair. Thanks to the work of Ms. Kristal Quarker Hartsfield and others, the luncheon was a rousing success. Honorees included former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan, former Assistant Secretary of Labor William Brooks and Judge Sara Harper, former U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Jurist and member of the Ohio District Court of Appeals. Each of these honorees shared the highlights of their professional accomplishments interspersed with interesting and entertaining anecdotes.
Actor and host Joseph Phillips
Howard University Choir
Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Mr. Reince Priebus, addressed the gathering and urged the continued and expanded effort to engage the black community. He announced a major investment into an initiative to attract a greater portion of the black electorate into the GOP. There is every reason to believe Mr. Priebus’ sincerity as this election is a “must win” for the Republican Party. His message went out to a receptive and optimistic audience. Spirits at the “Trailblazer Luncheon” were high, the music was delightful, and the message was clear…Republican ties to the black community MUST be firmly reestablished. With mid-term elections just 9 months away and the GOP needing 6 seats in the Senate to totally control the U.S. Congress, the opportunity to restore some measure of traditional consistency to American government is well within reach. In tight Senatorial races in November 2014, the black vote might well be the difference between GOP senatorial elective success or its failure.
It was not surprising that liberal political pundits’ reactions to the Trailblazer Luncheon were self-righteously negative. Shrill opposition from the liberal media is actually a sure sign that they are concerned about the GOP’s initiatives aimed at the shifting of black support away from the democrats and toward the GOP in significant numbers. Persistent disillusionment with the Obama administration’s policies and tactics has alienated some of the democrats’ most ardent supporters. Even members of Congress who are democrats and face mid-term elections, are quietly distancing themselves from President Obama; a political act which was unthinkable until the botched roll-out of Obamacare. At this point, no amount of hyper-criticism of the GOP will diminish the magnitude of democratic incompetence and arrogance that characterizes the present administration’s blunders. The RNC has a golden opportunity within its reach, considering the general disaffection of most Americans with Democrats, to make significant inroads into the hearts, minds and political sentiments of black Americans who faithfully value family, God and country.
So what does it all mean? It should be obvious to even the mildly politically informed by now that the confluence of democratic miscues during an election period…favors Republicans. Smart money has to be with the GOP to dominate in the midterms with momentum for the general election coming off of those interim victories. Barring some Godforsaken GOP self-generated political implosion, right now the Republicans appear to have a “lock” on regaining the Senate in November 2014. And an increasing portion of the black community is eager to be part of the mounting groundswell to oust democrats and return the majority in both the Senate and the House to Republican control. At the luncheon RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, announced that the GOP was allocating $10 million for the placement of urban outreach staff around the country and that 11 states are presently game-ready. Is that enough of a commitment? Not likely…it’s probably going to take 10 times that amount to make serious political entrees into the black communities of America. Of course the money is necessary, but African Americans also want to be made to feel that they are a part of GOP renaissance that moving America back to slightly right of center. Republican strategists might want to be planning a comprehensive approach to garnering the black vote; commercials, radio/TV spots, mailings, etc with targeted messages. Some young Republicans of all races should be recruited to carry the Republican message to college campuses…and of course the whole social media stratagem has to be formalized. All of these approaches have to seemingly be utilized simultaneously for the synergy to be effective. There is much work to be done while the window of opportunity remains open. Everyone knows what’s at stake in these national next elections. It may be a defining moment in the trajectory of America’s future.
From left to right: John Kirksey, former Congressman Allen West, and Purnell Pinkney.
From left to right: John Kirksey, Raffi Williams, and Dr. David Caruth.
Unquestionably, “The Trailblazer Luncheon” was great, the speeches were highly motivating…but action is the solution to the malaise in the black community with regard to the GOP message. And as the Democratic foray into hyper-liberalism limps to an inauspicious end, they appear to have inadvertently succeeded in providing the GOP with the perfect opportunity to shift black allegiance away from liberalism and toward conservatism … on a silver platter! Blacks will return to the GOP in earnest when they see it winning elections again…elections in which black folks helped formulate the party platform. And in this election cycle, victory seems very much straight forward. To win these upcoming elections, the greater Republican Party has only to take advantage of the democrats’ blundering administrative incompetence while at the same time conscientiously avoiding internecine struggles and then…game, set, and match.
Founded in 2011 by professional black men, the American Renaissance Movement Incorporated (ARMI) is an organization dedicated to the reconstitution of America’s finest economic, social and political traditions. Informal discussions among these men led to the realization that their political identities were not aligned with the aims of contemporary, secular liberal politics, but much more with that of conservatives and moderates on most issues of importance in current national politics. A close examination of the political philosophies of the two major U.S. political parties confirmed that our fundamental belief system was fiscally conservative and socially moderate.
These founders of the ARMI came from diverse geographical regions across America; however, we shared the very same love of family, God and country. They wanted for their families the very same traditional values that served them well as they matured into manhood and took their place among the strong and purposeful men and women of our great nation. As political popularity gradually supplanted rule-of-law among the nation’s highest ranking office holders, these men became increasingly concerned. They chose to break with the pop-culture, media-fed machine created by the entertainment industry which produced an illusion of national well-being within a progressive agenda. They examined the social, economic, political and cultural conditions of America’s black enclaves and concluded that they could no longer continue to passively ignore the tragic decline of goods and services to these communities. In a relatively brief amount of time, these men realized that their value system paralleled that of a traditional conservative ideology and their political thought evolved accordingly. Once fully formulated, their political ideology favored Republican values, rather than secular liberal politics.
To all Americans of good will, but particularly those who share the fundamental values generated from the love and nurturing within a traditional family, who respect and honor America and who acknowledge the primacy of God, we extend an invitation to visit our site. On the site you will find black political history, glimpses of the long and successful struggle for emancipation waged by American blacks with the support of the 19th century Republican Party, contemporary political opinion, entertaining political satire, suggested readings, selected current events and…all through a conservative black American point of view. Find us at www.visitarmi.org and join us today. And always remember that …“the American people created our government…the American government did not create the people.” You’re invited to join the ARMI today.