The @Large Conference held recently in Baton Rouge, Louisiana brought people together from around the country to discuss issues related to black conservatives. In a time when the GOP is talking ‘outreach’, the conference was an important first step in the Republican party reclaiming its heritage as the party of individual rights, colorblind justice and equality of opportunity. The panelists and speakers also showed that many black conservatives are right in line with the new generation of Republican rabble-rousers like the late Andrew Breitbart, pushing against the radical left and the GOP establishment with fierce conviction.
The mention of Andrew Breitbart is not gratuitous. A longtime champion of black conservatives, his presence was felt throughout the day and a half event from moments like his appearance in conference keynote speaker Rev. C.L. Bryant’s powerhouse film Runaway Slave to Breitbart contributor Anita Moncrief’s tough love talk about the dismal state of the GOP ground game during the 2012 election.
The @Large event, sponsored by Louisiana political blog The Hayride, is one of the first gatherings to specifically discuss black conservative issues. The conference had an estimated attendance of around two hundred but as Fredrick Douglass Republicans founder K. Carl Smith said, “Jesus started with twelve, so we’re doing okay.” Although the conference had one piece of breaking news–the party switch of state senator Elbert Guillory, who became the first black Republican in the Louisiana legislature since Reconstruction–the event was primarily a chance to discuss both real-world political strategies and ideology. Speakers included Star Parker and Mississippi politician Bill Marcy.
(A side note about Marcy; he told me a story about when he was a National Guardsman at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and was attacked by the leftist demonstrators, who hurled insults, feces and bottles of urine. Marcy’s wife mentioned “the protestors would always get a photographer first” in order to document the ‘police brutality.’ It’s amazing how little has changed in forty years, because we documented the same techniques used by Occupy Wall Street in the Stephen K. Bannon film Occupy Unmasked.)
One thing immediately noticeable was the racial mix of the crowd. One conference attendee who had been inside the Black Caucus at the Democratic National Convention said there was a marked contrast in the atmospheres between this event and the Democrat gathering. At the DNC event, there was palpable, even open hostility towards white people; they were pressured to leave. At the @Large event, the attendees were of Americans of all skin colors and the conversation and ideas flowed freely.
The conference was also significant because it was held in the South, where the history of race relations including slavery and Jim Crow simply can’t be ignored. History was a key point in many presentations because the Democrat party’s history on race has been literally whitewashed and recast in such a way to cover up Democrat complicity in everything from the founding of the KKK to voting against civil rights legislation.
Even though the attendees were in favor of the ideal of a color blind society, there are still a number of issues that have special significance to black Americans. Policies on school choice and second amendment issues take on a new perspective when faced by citizens facing the dangers and failures of Democrat programs on a day-to-day basis.
Abortion is a another key issue for many black conservatives because of the out of proportion abortion rate in black communities and the unique historical targeting of black Americans by Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger and her Negro Project from the 1930s. A prime example of powerful cultural pro-life push came from conference speaker Ryan Bomberger, whose Radiance Foundation has produced slick, modern and extremely compelling messaging that anyone interested in political activism could learn a thing or three from.
Another theme that was repeated time and again is that the Democratic agenda has created an attitude of anger and defeatism among many black Americans. The liberal message that America is still a country mired in racism where black people can’t get ahead has brainwashed generations into hopeless passivity, while the reality is that skin color isn’t stopping any American from success today. The impact of this cynical political messaging has been staggering.
The bias and suspicion against Republicans has become so ginned up that electability is an issue for black candidates who choose to run under the GOP banner. Many in the black community simply will not vote for anybody with an R next to their name, no matter who the candidate is or what their stance is on issues. “I ain’t voting for no Republican” is a hard hurdle to overcome. Some black conservatives have been forced to run as Democrats in order to get the black vote, hoping that white conservatives will know their record and support them at the polls.
Many establishment Republicans still see black Americans as a demographic category and a minor one at that. No wonder so many strong black conservative voices came out of the Tea Party movement, who rejected the status quo, watered down Republican party that sometimes seems to be afraid of its own shadow and called for bold activism.
The establishment GOP had ceded black voters to the Democrats or viewed them like flavor of month ‘special interest groups’, a fatal mistake because black Americans are first and foremost Americans; here from the country’s start and an integral, indivisible part of our history, culture and heritage. The steady progress from slavery to the Civil War to civil rights is a central spine of our nation’s story and evidence of our greatness. The stagnation of so many of our fellow Americans in the past few decades is a lesson in what happens when we move away from our founding principles.
When the civil rights movement shifted from a Judeo-Christian concept of universal brotherhood and worth to the Marxist oppressor / oppressed model in the mid 1960s, it sent America into a tailspin over issues of race. The Black Power movement’s idolization of Mao and Ho Chi Minh was emulated by the privileged white kids of the Students for a Democratic Society & Weather Underground and that has given way to the mainstreaming of radicalism and permanent racial strife as a political axiom. President Barack Obama was literally and ideologically born out of that era and philosophy. Dependance, white guilt and racial resentment came to rule the day, then created the Democrat chokehold on black voters for the intervening decades.
Just because of national dialogue on race has been driven into helter skelter accusations by political opportunists, however, doesn’t mean that conservatives need to stick to left’s script of racial division. The @Large conference proved powerfully time and again that because of the wreckage left behind in the black community by nearly fifty years of one party rule, it’s imperative that conservatives actively support one of the last remaining open vestiges of racism in the United States; the struggle for black Americans to be openly patriotic and proudly Republican without being assailed with slurs and threats.
Organizers say another @Large conference is being planned for the future.