BY DAYTONA TIMES STAFF
Just days before the primary in New Hampshire, Bethune-Cookman University created its own political buzz with an appearance on campus of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and other GOP heavyweights.
Priebus attended the fourth annual Black Republican Trailblazer Awards Luncheon held on Feb. 4 at B-CU, which honored former Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Alphonso Jackson.
Nominated by then-President George Bush, Jackson was appointed the HUD secretary in March 2004.
Pursuing the Black vote
The theme of the luncheon, held at the Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center, was “Pursuing the Purpose.’’ More than 200 attended the event, which included elected GOP officials, state and county party chairs, community leaders and students.
Over the years, the GOP has been criticized for a lack of outreach to Blacks. An increased effort occurred after the 2012 election.
In 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney captured just 6 percent of the Black vote. The RNC then launched renewed Black voter outreach efforts and opened Black voter engagement and registration officers in key swing states. It also began more aggressively reaching out to Black media.
““We’re dedicated to pursuing Dr. King’s dream of pursuing the promise of equal opportunity for all,” Priebus remarked. “Our party is committed to a future where economic opportunity is a reality for all.’’
Tribute to trailblazer
In honoring Jackson, Priebus noted: “Today we honor the contributions of Secretary Alphonso Jackson, an extraordinary individual who pursued the promise of the American dream during a long and successful career in both the public and private sector. While staying true to Republican principles, Secretary Jackson went from marching for civil rights to creating strong, sustainable, and inclusive communities for all during his time leading HUD.
“He dedicated his work to ensuring that all Americans, regardless of background, have equal opportunities to succeed and the chance to build a successful life. As we honor Secretary Jackson, a Black Republican trailblazer, we draw inspiration for building a better future and continue to pursue the promise of equal opportunity for all.’’
Remembering King, Bethune
Jackson responded that he was humbled to be recognized.
“I am blessed to have marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as we fought tirelessly for civil rights,” Jackson stated. “It is special to receive this award at historic Bethune-Cookman University.
Dr. Bethune will ever remain an icon in American history. It is because of the determined sacrifice of trailblazers before me, like her and my friend Dr. King, that I’m able to be recognized today for my contributions to the country.”
Dr. Edison Jackson, B-CU’s president, gave remarks at the luncheon and RNC National Co-Chair Sharon Day gave a welcome.
“I am proud and honored that the RNC has come to my home state of Florida and to the beautiful and historic campus of Bethune-Cookman University for this special event. Bethune-Cookman has always been one of the nation’s flagship historically Black universities and we are privileged to be here in honor of our Republican Trailblazers,’’ said Day, whose home base is Broward County.