In concluding this four-part series, the National Republican African American Caucus Chair Dr. Jean Howard-Hill says, that despite those issues with race within the Republican Party, there is hope in this generation.
“One of the most encouraging signs I see as I work with high school and college students”, she says, “is hope for an America where race is no longer an issue. Many of them have grown up in integrated climates. They have gone to day care and kindergarten with children of other races since they were toddlers. They have slept over at each other’s house. They have played on the same soccer, baseball, softball and football teams. They have marched in the same bands and they have shared the same music and slang. All of this has contributed to a more integrated culture for this generation, which makes segregation and racial separation something which to them are foreign and distasteful.”
Howard-Hill says that the process of political socialization encompasses all of these things. “Our social and economic backgrounds, who we associate with, our parents, our religious beliefs, our educational and social levels and everything else that touches our lives impacts who we are, and are all a part of the process which helps us to form our political opinions. When this is positive, and is rid of racism, it changes the political landscape.”
She says that she also sees a change in both students and their parents. “In times past, racial hatred was taught and passed down to children. But now, there are more White parents who do not condone this kind of propaganda and behavior. As their children interact with children of other races and ethnicities, so do they. This has allowed fruitful opportunities to better understand and have an appreciation for racial diversity.”
Also she says she has seen a greater acceptance and more tolerant attitude towards those who are different not only racially, but also in other areas of social diversity.
She says that with this generation, this is making this kind of racism, mean spiritedness and hypocrisy, ancient history, which is a good thing.
“Even if we cannot be moved to change, they will and already have begun that transition.”
“Also, many of the younger generation are able to do the research and to venture into vast areas of knowledge on the internet where they are able to research all sides of the issues. With this, they are able to better form more knowledgeable and factual opinions that are not clouded by rhetoric and emotions.”
“The students I have taught, I have encouraged them to do the research and to not be afraid to express different opinions, so long as it is factually based. I also have taught the need to engage in civil debate, where the sole purpose is to reason and to seek ways to better our communities and nation. I am sure there are others within academia who are doing the same. Hopefully, this will inspire this generation to be better citizens than we are. Having this kind of foundational guidance, hopefully, they will become the base and leadership of the Republican Party.”
“All of this means, there is hope in this generation for the return of the true Party of President Lincoln, as well as a more civil political environment, where partisanship does not have to divide us into two nations of hostile and warring political ideologies.”
The National Republican African American Caucus is also working to foster and nurture this change through its efforts that include the National Youth on the Horizon Leadership Summit that involves youth ages 14 - 18 of all races. The Youth Summit will focus on issues and concerns as expressed by youth, and will allow them to offer their advice in finding workable solutions to problems plaguing young Americans. The Summit will include speakers, workshops, panel discussions, and a concert. The admission to the Summit is free and includes complimentary breakfast and lunch.
Another NRAAC effort is the New Generation - New Direction Campaign, which focuses on those from ages 18 to 29. The mission of the project is to build a national political base of young African - Americans that are issue oriented and share some of the same core values of the Republican Party, and are willing to work to address those concerns that impact their present and future. The campaign addresses issues involving economic empowerment, educational attainment, social conditions, global concerns, self-responsibility, and self accountability. It also prepares and encourages this generation to become politically involved as voters, participants in government at all levels, and as candidates for office.
NRAAC also is convening its National and Global Conference, July 8th – 10th, 2010 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The 2010 conference theme is: Setting the Republican Agenda to Include people of Spirit and Faith. NRAAC participants and affiliates from across the country will be brought to the table to address a wide range of community, state, national and international issues. Highlighting the event is the National Embrace’s Black Elephant Dinner with speaker, Rev. Johnny Lee Clary, former KKK Grand Dragon of Oklahoma, who also serves as the NRAAC National Embrace Chair. Also special invitation is being sent to President G. W. Bush and President H. W. Bush, along with other Republican leaders. That night’s them is: Extending the Olive Branch.
“It is time to extend the olive branch, and that night we will do all we can to let the Republican Party know that since we are here to stay, we also want our stay in the Republican Party to be one which is harmonious and seeks to build the party and moves it in more positive directions, that are beneficial to the nations and future generations”, say the National Chair.
More information on these projects and events can be found on the NRAAC’s site at http://www.nraacaucus.org.
[Dr. Jean Howard-Hill is the author of Black Eyes Shut, White Lips Sealed. She has served as the national chair for the National Black Republican Women with her late husband, Attorney Bobby Lee Hill serving as the head of the Black Republican Men for Change from 1987 to his death in 1991. After his death up until 1993, she remained head of the organization, and in 1999 combined the two groups to form the National Republican African American Caucus. Outside of her role as the National Republican African American Caucus [NRAAC] national chair, Howard-Hill is known for her involvement within the African American community and her efforts to correct and enhance verbal, written and presentational skills of African American students, and her “Pull up Your Pants and Dress for Success Campaign” to improve the appearance and fate of African American males. She has created and directed the Many Facers of Diversity at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, which teaches these skills to minority, “at-risk”, and first generation college bound students. She is currently working on the Tennessee Youth Research Study, a research project aimed at identifying causes and providing connectors to reconnect to the youth of this generation. She also has taught full time and as an adjunct, American Government, State and Local Government, and International Politics and Culture of Nonwestern Countries at UTC, and was voted 2006 Outstanding Professor of the year. Additionally, from 1976 to 1979, she designed and directed the “Democracy In Action” Program, which was a civics programs taught in the local school systems. Howard-Hill also is a local political commentator and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville College of Law.]