April 27, 2010
NRAAC's National Chair
Dr. Jean Howard-Hill
National Republican African American Caucus [NRAAC] Blog
The National Republican African American Caucus Has It's Say!: An 18 Day Political Revival
Day 8: Why those African American Republicans who speak out or have the intelligence to think for themselves and form their own opinions are viewed as "troublemakers".
[Back to preaching to those whose hearts have yet to be filled with love and to know the power of love vs. the power of politics! This is hard to do, after the Weekend Special! But...I am still encouraged that there are many more out there like the elderly white audience I addressed on the weekend.]
I had one of my dear older white Republican friends tell me about being in a Republican Women's meeting where they were discussing me. "She's a troublemaker", someone alleged.
Very quickly she rose to my defense by asking, "Well if she is a troublemaker, tell me what has she done? I have known her since 1979 when she first came into this party, so tell me one thing that she has done?"
In answer to that question, no one in the meeting could point out one single thing I had done to earn the label.
At that time I walked in such political purity and innocence, which is another way of saying, I was extremely naïve to Republican politics. I had no clue what being a "troublemaker" meant. Back then, I took white Republicans at their word when they said they were God fearing people and that they wanted "us" in the party.
So after being told I was being labeled as a "troublemaker", I did what any hysterical woman who had been wrongly accused would do. I went home and had a good cry and threw myself a pity party, asking what did I do to deserve this. Why was I being misjudged, when all I wanted to do was heed the call of the GOP to recruit and bring African Americans into the Republican Party at all levels.
I could go into a city, where I knew no one, find a few preachers, and before long I was up before a group of African Americans giving an altar call to return to the GOP, and they heeded that call in masses! Before long, I had African Americans in the thousands all over the United States! I was good at doing this, and proudly reported in each time I added to those numbers. Talk about being I naïve! I did think all of this was somewhat strange, because NO ONE in the GOP or RNC seemed to share my excitement for the increasing numbers.
What I did not realize is that the more "colored folks" I added, the more I was shunned and viewed as a "troublemaker". Unbeknownst to me, I was seen as a threat to the local Republican women's group because I was about to bring in of the 1,276 African Americans I had recruited locally, over 420 African American women into its membership! This would have been enough to have voted in a black woman into every position of leadership within the organization! I did not get it at first! Reason being is that I was not thinking "powerbase". I was thinking "inclusion".
This one innocent move also would have upset the powerbase of those who were aspiring to run for elected office in the future and for other elected positions. At that time, I honestly had no clue that what I was about to do was seen as such a major threat! So I had to be stopped! The only way to do it was to label me as "troublemaker" and to make sure those recruited were made to feel unwelcomed, in hopes they would not stay! What a political revelation!
I guess I should have gotten it back in 1992, when there was a Republican Congressman who later became governor, who shortly after my husband's death said something to me which should have helped me to see the light.
I had just left Connecticut with Congresswoman Nancy Johnson and had been a part of a recruitment effort to bring African Americans into the party in Connecticut. I flew into Washington, D.C. to continue a day or two of recruiting and to meet with two board members. While there, I also met with this congressman. During that meeting, I shared with him my frustrations over the seemingly lack of interest and even support for those efforts to bring in African American women into the GOP in the masses. He looked me in the eye and asked, "Jean have you ever thought that maybe the Republican Party does not want Blacks in the party in masses"?
Then he encouraged me to return to Tennessee, and find a place and time for my child and me to properly mourn the death of my husband. I was so shocked to hear this coming from him. In fact, this caused me to have a very high regard for him because at least he was honest. He said to me what no one else would have dared say and I appreciated it.
What he said was true! Believe it or not! If you want to be labeled a "troublemaker" within the GOP, high on the requirement list is the successful recruitment of blacks into the party in large numbers! If you can meet this one criterion, then you get to wear the label.
Second on the list is to be educated. If you are stupid, appear to be stupid or conceal your intelligence, then this keeps you off the list. But if you understand issues because you can do the research and can form your own opinions, and you dare become a part of the discussion, you are seen as being intellectually dangerous!
Third on the list is to speak out when something is done that is wrong!
I did not have to satisfy the second or third requirement before I became labeled as a troublemaker. I only had to be good at what I do, which is recruit and galvanize people under the GOP's exclusive tent. In fact, it is as of late that I decided that since I have been given this distinguished label and that no matter how many olive branches I extend, I cannot seem to cast it off, I might as well take it to the next level and continue to even more vigorously recruit African Americans and boldly speak out!
So this is why during an interview with Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker, I said, "I wear the label very proudly". And so do the members of our organization".
We are proud to be labeled "troublemakers", now that we understand what this means.
I remember as a child hearing my mother say to my father, "we don't want no trouble." I always wondered what she meant by this. As I read America's history, I realized the meaning of this word from a racial connotation.
"Trouble" meant anything that would cause the white man to unleash terror upon blacks. Fear of trouble, made many African Americans within the South docile and afraid to stand up, fight back and to fight for their freedom. When and if this was done, they were labeled as "troublemakers", because their actions in seeking freedom, is what whites used as their excuse to burn crosses, bomb churches, lynch, beat and inhumanely treat blacks.
In slavery those slaves who talked about one day being free were labeled "troublemakers". To keep them from spreading this non-sense about having their freedom, they were beaten brutally and openly so that the rest of the slaves would perish even the thought of wanting to be free.
During the Civil Rights Movement if you talked about equal rights and wanted to become a part of America's patriotic tapestry as citizens who had the right to vote, to live where your money could afford, to eat at the same restaurants, to shop at the same stores, or to be educated equally, then you also were labeled as a "troublemaker".
But if it had not been for troublemakers, African Americans would still be slaves; there would have been no Civil Rights Movement; more Emmitt Tills would continue to be savagely killed; no blacks would be able to vote or be elected to office; and Jim Crow laws would still exist.
When you look back in history and realize there even was a time when there were laws that prohibited blacks from learning how to read and write, and if caught attempting to learn, they were brutally beaten, this helps you to appreciate "troublemakers" who defied laws and sought to be educated.
So to be labeled as a "troublemaker" is indeed an honor. It means that I am a part of something greater than myself. I am a part of a move of freedom and equality within a party which sees my presence, my intelligence, my fearlessness in speaking out against what is wrong, and my determination to have a place at the table as being "trouble". That being the case, I thank God each day for this distinguished honor, and I have promised God that I shall never fall short of deserving it!
For to be a troublemaker within the Republican Party, is to prepare and spread the banquet table, and to invite all who wish to come. To be a David who does not fear Republican Goliath(s). A Daniel who would rather face the lions than to compromise convictions and integrity. Or to be a Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednigo, who knowing there are fiery furnaces that await us, yet would rather be thrown in, than to bow to that which is contrary to what is right. It means never deny our worth as a human being.
As the national chair of the National Republican African American Caucus, yes, I wear this label honorably, so long as to be a "troublemaker", is to be one who has the courage to lead our membership to make right what is wrong, to integrate that which is segregated, to speak out when it is necessary, and to show up and present ourselves as proud African American Republicans.
So call me or our organization what you may, we are here to stay. Because unlike most African Americans within the Democratic Party, we are not here by default. We are Republicans by birthright and by choice, who like the prodigal son, are returning home to our fathers' house. You might as well get used to that and prepare a room.
Also, if you still think those who bring African Americans into the Republican Party in masses are "troublemakers", you can expect more "trouble", until those of integrity and true commitment to inclusion within the local, state and national party remove the barriers and the gatekeepers that prevent true inclusion within "our" Grand Ole Party.
Say Amen, if you can. If not? Say Oh my!
To reach the NRAAC national chair:
423-702-5622 NRAAC office
[Dr. Jean Howard-Hill is the author of Black Eyes Shut, White Lips Sealed. She has serves 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.
She has taught full time and as an adjunct, American Government, State and Local Government, and International Politics and Culture of Nonwestern Countries at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga, 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 program 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. She also is ordained clergy and heads The Healing Place Ministries International, overseeing 47 ministries throughout Africa.
She also is a TN third district congressional candidate. If elected, she would be the first African American Republican and female to be elected from the third district. Her campaign website can be found at: http://ladyjforcongress.com and http://jeanhowardhillforcongress.com; http://jeanhowardhillcampaignnews.blogspot.com; http://blogwithladyjforcongress.blogspot.com; http://jeanhowardhillforcongress.ning.com; http://www.youtube.com/JHHCongress; http://twitter.com/ JHHCongress.]
The National Republican African-American Caucus is an organization that is comprised of Spirit filled people of faith within the African American community, that works in conjunction with local, state and national party efforts to embrace, and offer African-American Republicans opportunities for inclusion and involvement in the Republican Party, and builds bridges between the African-American community and the Republican Party. In doing so, it seeks to carry out the philosophy and mission set before President Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas to build a stronger and more inclusive Republican Party, where those guiding principles are more important than politics.
More information on the NRAACcan be found at:
http://www.nraacaucus.org; http://nraacaucus.ning.com [NRAAC] National Republican African American Caucus Social Issue Network (members only); http://nraac.blogspot.com [NRAAC Blog]; http://youthonthehorizons.blogspot.com [NRAAC Youth on the Horizons Blog]; http://the-twig.blogspot.com [NRAAC New Generation-New Direction Blog]; and
http://theblackolivebranch.blogspot.com [NRAAC National Chair's Blog]. Each State Caucus can be accessed by state. See related links at http://www.nraacaucus.org/index_files/Page816.htm. Also can be found on the RNC group page at http://our.gop.com/Groups/National_Republican_African-American_Caucus_NRAAC.