Despite President Donald Trump and current events at the White House, Black Republican fundraiser and political consultant Raynard Jackson remains optimistic that better days are ahead when it comes to the GOP welcoming people of color. “Because of demographics, the Republican Party has to change and it will not be long before I get a tap on my shoulder saying that we need you,” said Jackson, founder and chairman of Black Americans For A Better Future, the only registered Political Action Committee dedicated to raising money for the Republican Party. On May 10 Jackson held an event titled “A Conversation With the Minority Community of Virginia” At the Nannie J Lee Memorial Recreation Center in Alexandria, Va.
The event came on the heels of a successful Virginia Gubernatorial Forum Jackson held earlier this month where Republican candidates were given a platform to address a variety of issues that include education, contracting, and policing in minority communities as well as what they planned to do if they won the election.
Jackson said the goal of the forum was to give candidates an opportunity to speak directly to the minority community of Virginia. It was moderated by Freddie Allen, managing editor at the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and Black Press USA; and Ken McClenton, founder of The Exceptional Conservative Network.
Two of the three candidates running for Lt. Governor attended the event. Virginia State Del. Glen Davis and Jill Vogel, a Virginia State senator, attended, but Brice Reeves said he had a scheduling conflict.
The Rev. Derrick Grier, pastor of Grace Church in Dumphries, Va., didn’t attend the forum, but the pastor of the 5,000 member church said the betterment of the community depends on building bridges. “Presidents come and go but God remains on the thrown,” Grier said. “When President Trump was inaugurated I made the observation that as African Americans we have endured hundreds of years of slavery, Jim Crow, and we have a mindset that we will make it. We are built stronger that.”
The Trump administration has faced numerous criticisms from civil rights leaders over its seeming lack of commitment to HBCUs, attempting to dismantle President Barack Obama’s signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act, and recent efforts to bring back mandatory sentencing in drug cases. On May 15, a coalition of pastors offered a stinging rebuke of President Trump’s administration. The Rev. Jimmy Hawkins, director of the Office of Public Wellness of the Presbyterian Church USA, called for a meeting with the President.
Jackson, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, said growing up everybody that he knew who was Black was a Democrat. “I became a Republican as a student at Oral Roberts University and I realized that the values that I had were Republican values: attending church on Sunday morning, entrepreneurship.”
Trump has several prominent African-Americans working in his administration including Sec. of Housing Ben Carson, Omarosa Manigault, director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison, among others.
“I am still optimistic on the President because the system needed shaking up and he is doing a hell of a job in shaking up the system, “said Jackson. “The whole thing in accusing Trump as being a racist is unfounded. Give me some specifics. Can we call President Obama a racist because he ignored Chicago for eight years when he lived a mile away from where people were being killed.”
Jackson also said he disagrees with calling Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a racist. “Give me specifics. Just because you make one off colored joke means that he is a racist,” Jackson said. “For too long we in the Black community have been beholding to one party but what has President Obama done for us?”
In terms of hope, Jackson said he looks to Congress, specifically at Rep. Nia Love (R-Utah) and Will Herd (R-Texas) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). “Senator Scott is what a Black Republican should look like. He has great ties to the Black community and he takes the lead on entrepreneurship, and he doesn’t see his own people as a burden.”
But despite gains, Jackson continues to struggle with his party. They are currently suing him for using the party’s name for his annual event, “The Black Republican Trailblazer Award Luncheon.” He said with a chuckle, “I created the award but they say they want it.”