February is Black History Month and today I am attending the Republican National Committee “Black Republican Trailblazers” luncheon at The Howard Theater in Washington DC.
I am proud not just this month, but every month of the accomplishments and achievements black Americans have contributed to these United States.
My own story is one connected to the legacy of the first black men to don the uniform of America, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, whose valor shined brilliantly at Fort Wagner during the Civil War. As well, prior to myself, the last black Republican Member of Congress from Florida was Rep. Josiah T. Walls. These are the stories we must continue to tell this month, and every day to our next generation of children and grandchildren so they may never forget the service and sacrifices that enable them to have the blessings of liberty and freedom.
At the same time, it is imperative for the Republican Party to tell its story, not just during this month alone, but to engage continuously with the black community.
The “Grand Ole Party” was established in 1854 in Ripon, Wisconsin for one single purpose: the abolition of slavery, a dark and heinous part of America’s history. The GOP was focused on the issue of individual freedom and ensuring the words of Thomas Jefferson came to fruition for America.
Sure, the start of the Civil War was not about the issue of slavery, but it was the first GOP president Abraham Lincoln, who realized after the stalemate victory at Antietam, that it had to be. The film “Lincoln” beautifully portrayed the dedication — and a little nefarious actions –of one man, of one party of men, to rectify a great wrong. They set in motion the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments that would begin to make our America a better country. The first black Members of Congress were Republicans. The first attempts to institute civil rights legislation came from Republicans.
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