RNC Commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

RNC Communications - August 27, 2013

In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, the RNC hosted a luncheon yesterday at the Capitol Hill Club. The response was so overwhelming that we had to simulcast it in a second overflow hall to accommodate the crowd.

The speakers at the event included Dr. Ada Fisher, Republican National Committeewoman from North Carolina; Reverend Ralph J. Chittams Sr., Senior Vice-Chairman of the District of Columbia Republican Party; Sharon Day, Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee; Robert J. Brown, Chairman and CEO of B&C Associates Inc. and former special assistant to President Nixon; James Kemp, President of the Jack Kemp Foundation; Bob Woodson, Founder and President of the Center For Neighborhood Enterprises; The Honorable T.W. Shannon, Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives; The Honorable Jim Sensenbrenner, Representative of the 5th district of Wisconsin; Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee; Dr. Alveda King, King Family Representative and Founder of Alveda King Ministries.

The event in its entirety was covered by CSPAN, click here to watch the event.

Below is some of the coverage from the event:

Slate: "Moral Consistency Is What We Should Insist Upon"

The Republican National Comittee commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington Monday… the event was well executed. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus admitted to the crowd he was nervous organizing the luncheon at the last minute; he worried no one would show up. But they went ahead with it anyway, plenty of people did show up, and they applauded Priebus when he copped to his quixotic undertaking trying to reach black voters: "You can't make the sale if you don't go up and ask for the order...”

Free Beacon: GOP Celebrates King’s Legacy
Luncheon highlights party’s outreach to minority voters

A senior GOP lawmaker said restoring the Voting Rights Act is his top legislative priority for the rest of the year while other Republicans talked about ways to reach out to minority voters at a GOP luncheon commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

The luncheon, hosted by the Republican National Committee (RNC), featured political, civil rights, and community leaders discussing the legacy of the civil rights movement…

Priebus also called on the Republican Party to work for education reform.

“As Republicans, I think this is just one area where we can lead,” he said.

Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr., said to cheers that she is a Republican, but noted the limits to party affiliation.

“So much transcends politics,” she said.

ABC News: Black Republicans Lament Party’s Forgotten Role in Civil Rights Movement

When Republicans planned a gathering to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, they weren’t initially sure who would show up.

With most lawmakers out of town and Washington full of Democratic-leaning activists here to mark the historic week at the Lincoln Memorial, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus acknowledged at the luncheon on Capitol Hill today that it was a risk, but they proceeded anyway.

“You can’t make a sale if you don’t show up and ask for an order,” said Priebus, who has pushed for the party to reach out more to minority voters, including African-Americans.

In the end, dozens of civil rights leaders, African-Americans, Democrats and Republicans gathered at the Capitol Hill Club…

“This is just a complete and total blessing to our party,” Preibus said. “In this room it’s not 100 percent Republican. I also know that a few Democrats came up to me and said, ‘You know what? We’re supporting this because if the Republican Party is not going to fight like crazy for every single vote in this country … is not going to fight like crazy for the African-American vote, then the other side is just going to take it for granted.’”

For many African-Americans gathered, it was a reminder that the Republican Party – the party of Abraham Lincoln – wasn’t as estranged from the civil rights movement as some of the more official commemoration events would make it seem…

“It’s a movement that had its roots in the black community and in the Republican community,” Ada Fisher, a Republican National committeewoman from North Carolina, who is African-American, told ABC News. “Most people don’t talk about the fact that Martin Luther King was a Republican…”

Daily Beast: The RNC Celebrates MLK Jr. and How Republicans Can Win Black Voters

Conservative politics can thrive in pockets of the black community. Republicans just have to work for it, writes Jamelle Bouie after going to the RNC’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of March on Washington.

…Organized by the Republican National Committee, this event was both a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, and a showcase for black Republicanism. The large majority of the attendees were African American, and they included former congressman Allen West, T.W. Shannon—speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives—Alveda King (niece of Martin Luther King Jr.), and a large variety of party members and activists…

Several speakers gave what were, essentially, sermons on community responsibility and uplift—language that wouldn’t be out of place on a Saturday at the barbershop, or on Sunday from the pulpit.

“We need to be prayerful in reaffirming our commitment to making this a better nation,” said Robert J. Brown, chairman of PR firm B&C Associates, “This nation was built on compromise, and if we don’t learn how to get it all together, we’re going to sink this ship.” He was echoed by Robert L. Woodson Sr., president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. “Both political parties should compete on how they treat the least among God’s children,” he said, “We don’t need outreach, but uplift.

And what would uplift look like? For Woodson and Brown, its working to invest in black neighborhoods and black businesses, and helping historically black colleges and universities recover from the damage of the recession. For James Kemp, son of Jack Kemp—one of the few Republicans to work closely with African American leaders—it’s using free market ideas to revitalize cities like Detroit, Michigan. And to Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, it’s bringing congressional power to bear on key issues like the Voting Rights Act, which he pledged to “fix so that it’s impervious to legal challenges from the usual suspects.”

Republicans who want to win black voters should take heed, since this looks like a viable agenda.

Conservatives don’t need to abandon their values or change their core commitments, but they do need to work to advance the interests of African Americans. A GOP that does that—and doesn’t just dwell on the dead relationships of the past—is one that can contest the black vote, or at least, return to the electoral performances of George W. Bush or Bob Dole, who both won more than 11 percent of African American voters…

With all of that said, there is a specific tension that defines this particular outreach effort. The steps Republicans need to take to increase its share of the black vote aren’t large. They amount, more or less, to a simple show of respect. Put another way, it’s no accident that Chris Christie is with whites and blacks in New Jersey; he is one of the few Republicans to treat Obama with public admiration. And that’s enough…

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