It’s with sadness we just heard of the passing of Bishop Harry Jackson. With the recent losses of Herman Cain and Lloyd Marcus, a normal but sad reality is in our face: the older black conservatives are dying off and it should be of some concern who will be the next to inherit the ongoing messaging and activism?
Before you start naming off the obvious, let’s put this into perspective.
There are many black conservatives who’ve worked, more of less, behind the scenes to promote Republican values. Very few have been formally embraced by the Republican Party because many of us were at it long before the prominence of social media. It was more about the mission of pushing back against the kneejerk all-Republicans-are-racist narrative. We appeared in hostile environments, took on controversial issues, and at times our messaging was much more informative and engaging than your average wonk.
CNN only invite black conservatives on their broadcasts when we speak out of turn, have to be questioned as to our sanity, and ridiculed once the segments end. We are the Fox News backstop against unfounded or made up accusations against the movement and/or the party. We do it more for love of the concept of conservatism that the Republican Party itself.
In many respects, we outperform the party when it comes to the means of creating messages and the fat-and-happy entrenched are naturally threatened by those who do it better.
For example, I dare you to find ONE speaker who so effortlessly and fearlessly explained conservative opposition to gay marriage when the topic was white hot or since….
This was not issued in the mocking, self-promoting tone many of today’s younger mouthpieces would. There were no Facebook likes and Twitter follows to be gained when Alan Keyes spoke in Boston. This wasn’t streamed online. It couldn’t be shared by the hundreds of thousands as to create a back-patting metric that excites today’s nonprofits and cable news interests.
The older group of black conservative activists I knew/know were comfortable with our individual methods of reach. Hardly any of us got rich off our activism but if we could speak somewhere and later be surrounded by a room full of students who never heard black people speaking the way we did and just had to hear more, that’s all we needed to keep us going. We never lied to anyone about who we are, how we got here, and where we wanted to go. All that’s off the table now, as in any movement, there are those who are there more for themselves than the movement.
Unlike “Good Trubah”, there will be no CNN Films documentaries honoring Lloyd, Harry or Herman. At least Mr. Cain got an R.I.P. mention on Fox News and some talk radio shows, once. And as many times as we physically stuck our necks out for the cause, I foresee no formal honors on the conservative side for any of us when our times come and I think we’re okay with that.
Allan, Zo, Star, Alan, Erik, Mychal, Anita, Alveda, Jesse Lee, Larry, Charles, David, Niger, Lynn, C.L., William, and my other black conservative acquaintances will be remembered for more than opening a door. We did it at a time where there was no real market for our sincere points-of-view and there was nothing really to personally gain. We did it because it needed to be done and we had to be damn good at it.