A summit meant to get more Black business entrepreneurs involved in policy proceedings doesn’t seem like a natural fit for Steve Bannon, former White House strategist and executive chairman of the ultra-conservative Breitbart News website, and Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager. But, Bannon, who has been called a racist and White supremacist sympathizer by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), and Lewandowski, who has allegedly been a part of multiple physical assaults, will be the keynote speakers at Black Americans for a Better Future’s first annual Economic Policy Summit from Sept. 26-27 at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Northwest Washington, D.C.

Steve Bannon (l), former White House strategist and executive chairman of the ultra-conservative Breitbart News website, and Corey Lewandowski (r), Donald Trump’s former campaign manager. (AP Photos/Gerald Herbert and Dake Kang)

Raynard Jackson, founder and chairman of the super PAC, which was created to get more Blacks involved with the Republican party, insists the pair has much to offer and that the summit would be a fruitful investment.

“I have personal relationships with every speaker that’s coming,” Jackson said. “I’ve had conversations with them about making sure that this is not just a photo opp. I have been assured by everyone of my speakers that they will have something substantive to discuss with this group of entrepreneurs.”

According to Jackson, the summit is the beginning of a process — sort of like a dating relationship — that will provide an opportunity for Black entrepreneurs with a platform to cultivate and build ties with Republican politicians. The summit will occur during the same time that President Donald Trump is expected to deliver a speech on tax reform in Indiana.

“These attendees will be invited to sit at the table,” Jackson told the AFRO. “The speakers are going to invite our attendees to be at the table helping create the sausage, and then also help them cook the sausage, and then slice up the sausage and serve to the small business community. So, this is more than just networking, this is one of the rare occasions…where, especially in the Black community, they’re being asked to provide input into legislation before it becomes law.” Jackson said that one-third of the attendees will be Democrats.

The summit will include a VIP reception that will include members of Congress on Sept. 26 from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. and a breakfast and luncheon from 8 a.m-3 p.m. on Sept. 27.  Lewandowski is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for the luncheon and Bannon is scheduled to close out the program on Sept. 27.

Jackson said members of congress, including Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) will rotate with other congress members during the breakfast on Sept. 27 to talk about various issues of what they are going to do.

“He is so committed to the summit,” Jackson said, describing Gosar. “He believes so much in what our group stands for.”

Guests who have not confirmed attendance include: Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Rep. Steve Strivers (R-Ohio) and Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.).

Jackson said the summit would include a specific follow up with measurable actions and a time table to ensure that progress is being made. He also said that he will disclose three major announcements about the Republican Party creating more opportunities for Black entrepreneurs to engage, cultivate and build relationships with members of Congress and private sector businesses on Sept. 27.


LaTrina Antoine

Special to the AFRO