WASHINGTON — This morning, political activist and actor Joseph Phillips joined Carol Costello on CNN Newsroom to discuss the Republican Party’s efforts reaching out to the black community. Phillips, who is best known for his role on The Cosby Show, co-hosted the RNC’s 2nd Annual Black Republican Trailblazer Awards luncheon today at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC.
View transcript excerpts below and watch the clip here: http://bit.ly/1bqZAcs
On GOP Message of Freedom
JOSEPH PHILLIPS: …Our message, the message of conservatives and the Republican Party, that of freedom, economic freedom, political freedom, religious freedom, civil freedom, I think, is the right message. It is a message that resonates with people in all communities. Personally, I think that that tweet and the whole hubbub surrounding that was much to do about nothing. But it does point to the fact that the Republican Party has had a problem reaching out. I happen to be one of those who has been a big critic. I think that you might say the Republican Party has been borrowing from the Denver Broncos playbook and has had about as much success. So I’ve been a critic and a skeptic. What the Republican Party is doing now is a bit different. They have actually put dollars behind the initiative here. So I came out. I said, well, let me see what's going on. We have heard about Republican engagement in the past. As you point out, sometimes it hasn't really been all that it has been made out to be. So I wanted to come out and I wanted to see.
GOP Having Different Conversation
PHILLIPS: Well, Carol, I don't want to spend too much time on this but what was really the issue with the tweet? They honored Rosa Parks. They didn't say anything bad about Rosa Parks. The woman had a key role in the civil rights movement. Of course, no one is implying by that that racism is over. I think that what happens sometimes is that the left and those in the media, they pick at things. The Republican Party leaves itself open, quite frankly, sometimes to that. That's a different conversation from what's happening today which is the Republican Party honoring past black Republican trailblazers, looking forward to the future, actually, buying ads now. Reaching out into the community, not just during election cycles, not just during an election year but trying to establish relationships year-round, actually becoming active in the community. Those things are new and they are different and I think that's far more worth our time and conversation than picking apart a tweet that was actually celebrating an American hero.
On Engaging With The Black Community
PHILLIPS: Well again I'm not a spokesperson for those people, I'm not a spokesperson for the Republican Party. I believe, quite sincerely that Republicans have extended the olive branch only to be rebuffed. I would also suggest that just appearing at the NAACP is not a true measure of one's involvement in the Black community. I think actually being grassroots, hands-on, engaging in people at the community level is far more significant than whether you show up at an event by an organization that quite frankly is outdated, perhaps, certainly not on message, and certainly not attending to the actual needs of the black community anymore, and is now a political arm of the Democratic Party. So I think that what is happening now is far more significant than whether or not you show up at the NAACP and deliver a speech, a political speech in saying what?
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