Many Blacks and persons of color are in prominent roles either as delegates or party officials at this week’s 2008 Republican National Convention, which is being held in St. Paul. MSR recently talked to several of them — each is proud of being a Republican.
Renee Amoore was a featured speaker at this week’s GOP convention. She has been a force to be reckoned with throughout the state of Pennsylvania as well as nationally and internationally.
Her life has been full of firsts, including being the first Black ever elected to the Upper Merion (Pennsylvania) School District: first as vice president, then as president when her predecessor stepped down due to health reasons. She was also elected chairwoman of the 2004 Pennsylvania Republican delegation.
“It is difficult to be the first in anything,” says Amoore, founder and president of The Amoore Group, Inc., a conglomerate of four entities. “Being the first, I had to prove as an African American and a woman that we could make those things happen.”
On being a Republican she says, “For too long, the Democrats have taken us [Blacks] for granted.” She continues, “In Pennsylvania [Blacks] were Republicans up to the 1950s. We came from down South being Republicans, and then all of a sudden, we flipped the script.
“Even though I am a Republican, it does not mean that I agree with everything the Republicans do. When I don’t agree, I am in their face.”
Although she doesn’t agree with him politically, Amoore is proud of seeing Illinois Senator Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate. “One, because I am a woman, and two, because I am African American,” she points out. “I think Senator Obama has done a wonderful job, and he speaks so well to people. I am so excited.”
Carleton Crawford first was attracted to the GOP because “I had a strong leaning toward foreign policy that Republicans had put forward,” he points out, adding that the party also fits his beliefs on finding solutions without government intervention better than the Democratic Party does.
Crawford, who lives in Minneapolis and works at an architectural firm, once was a member of the College Republicans. “I went to my first caucus in 1998, but basically got really active for the first time in 2000.”
He also served in such roles as campaign manager and helps “statewide candidates where I feel I can be helpful,” he points out. “Sometimes [I help] in a prominent role, and in some cases, just [by] dropping [off] literature and making phone calls to people. All my activities in the party are on a volunteer basis.”
Republicans usually do well in suburban and rural areas, but Crawford believes the party’s future may well hinge on doing better in the metro area. “I think it is critical that Republican candidates for statewide office run strong campaigns in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The long-term health of the party is tied to how well candidates do here in the city.”
Crawford advises that all Blacks get involved in local politics, regardless of party affiliation. Having more persons of color participating “is a good thing,” he surmises. “[Political] parties change because of the people that are involved in them.”
Yohana De La Torre
Her parents are Republicans, so it was only natural that Yohana De La Torre would follow suit. “Not only is it something that my parents have shown me, but the traditional values of our party are something that I am very strong on,” says De La Torre, a Republican National Committee media liaison.
The Miami, Florida native, who has been with the party since 2004, believes that the GOP promotes diversity better than the Democratic Party. “I couldn’t be happier because I am a daughter of immigrants. I’m Cuban, so it is very exciting for me to know thatâ€¦I [am]â€¦able to talk to people that [not only] have that minority status along with me, but also are involved in the political process.
“We [the Republican Party] truly strive on bringing everybody into the political process and taking part in something that is going to be historic and is going to mean something for the future of our nation,” De La Torre says.
Michael L. Williams
This week’s GOP convention is more than placards, balloons and straw hats, says Michael L. Williams, a longtime Republican. “It will be a conversation with the American peopleâ€¦that we believe Senator [John] McCain is ready to lead this country.”
Since initially appointed by then-Governor George W. Bush in December 1998 to fill a vacant seat, Williams has been a member of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oldest regulatory commission. He then was elected to complete an unexpired term in 2000, and then reelected in 2002 to a full six-year term, which expires this year.
“I have been a commissioner for a decade,” says Williams, who is the first Black in Texas history to hold a statewide post in the executive branch. However, he has been politically minded for as long as he can remember. “I probably ran for class president back in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh grades, through high school and college, and even in law school,” admits Williams. “I ran as a Republican for the first time in 1984.”
Like De La Torre, Williams also is a second-generation Republican. “My mother was a Republican elected official,” he proudly says.
Dan Williams says he has been a Republican ever since his Navy days in the early 1970s. “I tell people that it doesn’t matter what party you are in,” he notes. “I hope that you select a political party by choice and by thought as opposed to saying, ‘This is what we always have been.’ You look at candidates, election by election, and hold them accountable.
“I’ve found that the people who come close to communicating that message with the values that I believe in tend to be Republicans,” Williams, who is a convention delegate for the third time, admits.
Williams explains the basic difference between the two major political parties. “The Republican Party seems to be a party that would seek people to run for office, and I have done that [as a Minnesota lieutenant governor candidate]. The Democratic Party goes after minorities and women, but not as much as to run for office. They seem to go after them [only] for support.”
Finally, he downplayed the historical significance of the 2008 election. “While [Barack] Obama talks about the African American [experience], he can’t identify with them because his grandmother who helped raised him was president of a bank,” says Williams. “I am not pulling for Obama.” [Ed. note: Obama’s grandmother is described in his autobiography as taking the bus to work in a lower-level clerical position in a bank, not as a bank president.]
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com