Sunday, April 25, 2010

Weekend Special: National Republican African American Caucus Has It’s Say!: An 18 Day Political Revival

April 26, 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

Weekend Special: Greatly encouraged from the grass!

[In the black church, sometimes the preacher who is conducting the revival decides to stay for the weekend to do a Special Service. Although I don't blog on the weekend, something happened which has prompted me to share, so I decided to do this weekend special.]

When you run a revival of any sort, you preach about the wrong, but you also encourage the right. But when you see something is being done that is good or right, just like you call it out when it is wrong, you also must point it out when it is right. I had such an experience this weekend. Lest anyone should think that Tennessee is the most racist state on the face of the earth, I want to point out some of the good within it.

...And no, the encouragement I got this weekend was NOT from smoking grass!

I had the opportunity to venture into one of the most rural counties among the 95 counties in the great state of Tennessee to speak this weekend. I did not quite know how a black woman would be received by a white audience, especially since I had received an e-mail a few weeks before from a reporter from the local newspaper saying, "Don't send me any more of this stuff!" Relating to the content of our NRAAC blog. Because of this there was a little apprehension. Nevertheless, knowing I always have had hope and confidence in the good in people, I sought to find those of kindred spirit who nonetheless were white.

It took several hours to get there. On the drive up, I quietly sat praying. Knowing my weak spot was that I truly loved people, and loved to see people love each other, I knew that my heart was vulnerable to anything which expressed itself without love. Because of this, I asked God to give me the wisdom, the courage and the strength to face whatever may come my way, and above all to give me the opportunity to show love to those who perhaps may not be so loving.

Finally we got there. The open country air was rich with the sights, sounds and aromas of spring, as only can be seen in the foothills of the mountains of Tennessee. It was simply a gorgeous day!

After sitting outside in the car for a few minutes, it was time to go inside.

Seated at tables was my audience, all awaiting my arrival. The crowd was all elderly and all white. I was greeted warmly, but by then, I had decided to just be who I was and to offer to them the greatest gift I had, which was the gift of love. So at the door, I left ALL preconceived notions of what could happen and was only willing to embrace positive thoughts. I was determined that I would not prejudge as I had so often had done to me, nor would I take anything inside with me, other than LOVE!

I thought I would take advantage of the wisdom of the group by asking the ladies how to take nail polish out of my favorite skirt. I knew they had a solution and they did. We laughed and chatted about all the different ways to remove stains.

Interestingly, as I mingled with the audience before speaking, I found great comfort in just being me.

Then it was time to speak. I began by sharing my special love for the elderly. I had created a program called Eldercare years back where I matched youth with senior citizens during the summer. The youth would perform chores and the elderly would pay them, not in dollars and cents, but by sharing wisdom. It was a wonderful program which gave youth the opportunity to receive wise and rich counsel from those who had lived their lives and now were rich in counsel. From the elderly, as a child, I had received wisdom that has stuck with me throughout my life, so I wanted to make sure youth also were given this special treasure of wisdom that only comes from years and experience. During my legal services career, I also had created and set up the Senior Citizens Legal Project which specifically handled legal cases for the elderly through onsite locations. Competing only with children, the elderly are my favorite group of people, so to address this senior audience was more than comfortable - it was something from the heart.

The welcoming embrace and warmth flowed both ways. As I spoke and engaged the audience in dialogue, it touched a place inside of me which needed encouragement. I did not realize just how much I needed that. Sometimes when you see so much ugliness among your fellowman/woman, and you endure so much disparate treatment, you need to have your faith and confidence in humanity restored. I felt that way.

Upon ending, I did what I always do to my audience. I asked everyone to extend their arms real wide, and to bring them in to a hugging position. Then I said to them, "Just in case I don't get around to hugging everyone, this is my hug to you! I love you all!"

They all took such delight to get a group hug - especially the men!

One by one, they came up to greet me. The first person stuck out their hand for me to shake, but since I am not good with hand shaking, I gave them a big hug. After that, no one else extended their hands to shake instead they patiently waited to get a hug!

They asked me to stay and to have cornbread, pinto beans, turnip greens and potatoes with them for lunch. I needed to get back to Chattanooga, but I dared not refused the invitation. For me, the breaking of bread together is sacred and it is something in which you only do with those you count as friends.

I accepted the invitation, only if they would allow me to come back, and to fix my peach cobbler from scratch for them. They were delighted to have me return, with or without the peach cobbler, but especially with it!

After hearing I was a country girl who could seriously put a pot on (cook), an elderly gentleman wearing a big white Texas hat who set far off to the side came up to me. He hadn't said much up until them. As he approached me, he smiled and did what in the South we know is a sign of true love and acceptance, he gave me a jar of homemade apple butter which he and his wife had made.

He didn't know how much my daughter and I loved apple butter. But then again, perhaps he did. I found out he was a country preacher and a pastor. Now I knew why he stood afar off. He was discerning what was in me, so that he would know if what was within him, was worthy of sharing with me. From me came love, therefore what flowed from not only him but everyone else was love.

I was promised fresh vine tomatoes and okra from their gardens when I came back. I look forward to that return.

Without mentioning or prompting any discussion of race, several shared with me and those with me, that they did not see race, but only saw the person. One person poured his heart out to my daughter a situation from his youth where something happened which a black lady took offense, when he intended no offense. Very lovingly, my daughter assured him that he had done no wrong and that he needed not carry that with him any longer. He seemed relieved to hear this.

I knew in this group of elderly whites, I had found friends. But even more precious than that, I was encouraged to have found genuine love. Love that went beyond race and encouragement filled with hope and reassurances that good things flow from people who have good hearts, regardless of their race.

I realized even more now that racism is a condition of the heart. For when the heart is darkened by hate, racism is the manifestation of a sickened soul. But when the heart is filled with light, love is the evidence of a healthy soul which sees only through eyes of love. When we truly love from a deep place within the soul, racism and hate can no longer take residence within the heart.

That day, I saw the power not of politics, but the power of LOVE!

I even could believe that the reporter who didn't want any more of the "NRAAC's stuff", would one day come to know the power of love!

On the way back I savored the memories of my visit. The encouragement was just what I needed. I found hope in not just the younger generation, but encouragement that there are many at the grassroots level whose love had not waxed cold.

As I retired for the night, I gently closed my eyes and whispered, "Thank you Dear God for this time, encouraging the preacher."

I was thankful for this weekend special, where the message preached was the message of LOVE, and it was preached by everyone within the room! Indeed it was encouragement from the grass...the grassroots level.

To reach the NRAAC national chair:

Jean Howard-Hill
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: and;;;;; 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:; [NRAAC] National Republican African American Caucus Social Issue Network (members only); [NRAAC Blog]; [NRAAC Youth on the Horizons Blog]; [NRAAC New Generation-New Direction Blog]; and [NRAAC National Chair's Blog]. Each State Caucus can be accessed by state. See related links at Also can be found on the RNC group page at

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