PICTURED ABOVE: Odysseus Lanier
Imagine the Chicago Bulls of the NBA during the early Michael Jordan years. He was their top draft pick in the 1984 NBA draft. Jordan’s early years were filled with many, lows before he experienced the joys of winning six NBA championships.
During the Bulls’ down years, can you imagine Jordan’s first two coaches, Kevin Loughery or Stan Albeck, reaching out to student basketball players from the University of Illinois to ask them how to correct the Bulls’ problems on the court?
Do you think the Bulls would have gathered together five guys who played basketball at the local recreation center to get their thoughts on what the Bulls needed to do? The guys at the rec center always dreamed of playing professionally, but for whatever reasons, never got close to fulfilling their childhood dreams.
I am sure that Jordan and his teammates would have openly rebelled, if this had happened with them. I am also quite sure they would have been greatly insulted and would probably have all sought to play for other teams.
As improbable as this scenario is for most people to believe, this happens all the time within the Republican Party when it comes to the rare engagement with the Black community.
One needs look no further than Trump’s meeting last week with a few unknown Black Republicans. The meeting was with members of the Black and Latino communities. I am focusing only on the Blacks in attendance, simply because I have more first-hand knowledge about the Black community.
There was not one Black who attended the meeting that had any presidential campaign experience! Not one attendee had any real campaign experience. Not one attendee displayed any institutional knowledge of or experience with seasoned Black Republicans.
In essence, those Black Republicans in attendance were like the basketball players from the rec center mentioned above. They may have fantasies of playing in the big leagues, but they have no real experience to play on that level. Yet, they are being asked to advise a presidential candidate. Really? I mean, really?
Memo to Republicans: This is offensive to Black Republicans who have dedicated their lives to being a professional political operative. I challenge my readers to find any example of a presidential campaign meeting with a group of Whites under the same scenario.
No presidential campaign would ever allow a group of Whites to meet with and advise a candidate, who have absolutely no political or presidential experience whatsoever.
Yet, they feel it is appropriate to approach the Black community in such a manner, simply because they are not serious about the Black vote.
This is yet another example of Republicans trying to do the right thing, but doing it the wrong way.
So, what should the party and the Trump campaign be doing?
If the party wanted to prove to Blacks that they are serious about real engagement with the Black community, they would be meeting and engaging with people like Odysseus Lanier, Ron Langston, Allegra McCullough, and Fred McClure, to name a few.
Lanier is a founder of one of the largest Black CPA firms in the country and a lifelong Republican. He is also an alumni and former chairman of the Board of Trustees for Alabama A&M University, a major historically Black university.
Langston served former President George W. Bush as the first National Director of the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency. He is considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on small and minority business.
McCullough served former president George W. Bush as Region 3 Administrator for the U.S. Small Business administration. She was then promoted to the position of Associate Deputy Administrator, Government Contracting & Business Development for the same agency. She is considered an icon to the small and minority business community nationwide.
McClure was a top aide to former president George H.W. Bush and for many years was rated as one of the top lobbyists in D.C. He now runs the presidential library of the former president.
These are just a few of the top Black Republicans that many of the Blacks and party leaders involved in this election cycle seem to have forgotten. If you play in the NBA or Major League Baseball (MLB) and you don’t know who Spenser Haywood or Curt Flood are, you should be banned from playing in those respective leagues.
Without Haywood or Flood, you would not have free agency or players being paid the millions of dollars they are making today. Likewise, how can you call yourself a Black Republican and not acknowledge the contributions and the political acumen of the people listed above.
How can any serious presidential campaign have absolutely no engagement with Black Republicans like Lanier, Langston, McCullough and McClure? Unless and until the Republican Party reengages with Blacks like those listed above, on every level, no one, let me repeat NO ONE will ever believe that party leaders are serious about the Black vote.
When all is said and done, there is more said than done!
Raynard Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future (BAFBF), a federally registered 527 Super PAC established to get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party. BAFBF focuses on the Black entrepreneur. For more information about BAFBF, visit www.bafbf.org. You can follow Raynard on Twitter @Raynard1223.