With less than seven weeks to go before one of the most historic elections in our nation’s history, and when the GOP needs all the help it can get reaching Black voters, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is suing me, a Black Republican, over an event that I created.
I created and hosted the first “Black Republican Trailblazer Awards Luncheon” in February 2013 in the wake of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s loss to then-Senator Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Romney received just four percent of the Black vote.
Recognizing our own
The event was designed to recognize and honor Black Republicans who have made significant contributions to both America and the Republican Party. The head of the RNC, Reince Preibus, immediately saw the value in the luncheon and insisted that his organization pay for it.
I coordinated and executed that 2013 luncheon, despite the fact that RNC staffers, unbeknownst to Preibus at the time, attempted to sabotage my efforts at every turn.
More than 250 people attended the inaugural luncheon and I estimate that about 40 percent of them were Democrats.
That first year, we honored William T. Coleman and Robert J. Brown. David L. Steward was the keynote speaker. Coleman’s work was critical in the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, and he served as secretary of transportation during the Ford Administration. Bob Brown was the highest-ranking Black staffer in the Nixon administration.
Coleman and Brown were both civil rights icons who never forgot their obligation to fight on behalf of Black community.
Preibus joined me and Dave Steward, the head of World Wide Technology in St. Louis, Mo., who operates one of the largest Black-owned businesses in the U.S., on the stage to talk about politics and the party. RNC staffers later edited me out of the video that was recorded of our conversation.
Despite the behind-the-scenes turmoil, that first event was the gold standard.
By 2014, Black staffers at the RNC decided they no longer needed my leadership. My original vision for the event was watered down. By the time NewsOneNow managing editor and noted liberal Roland Martin hosted the event in 2015, I had completely divorced myself from that RNC-sponsored minstrel show. Even one of the honorees, Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) declared: “I’m not a trailblazer. My father is the trailblazer.”
I went my own way and sought to trademark the event through my political action committee (PAC), Black Americans for a Better Future. BABF is the first and only Black Super PAC established to get more Blacks involved in the Republican Party.
Last November, I filed for and received provisional trademark approval by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for the name, “Black Republican Trailblazer Awards Luncheon.” I e-mailed invitations to my 2016 event in early January for the upcoming February luncheon in Washington, D.C.
What did the RNC do?
It sent out an invitation for an event using the same name as my event, but in Jacksonville, Fla., scheduled a week before mine. In a conversation in January 2016, Preibus claimed that the RNC owned the name to my event. During a heated, hour-long conversation, Preibus threatened to destroy me. He said he would make it impossible for me to raise money through my PAC.
Recently, I received notification from the USPTO that my trademark application was in dispute and officially being opposed by the RNC. This is the thanks I get for being a loyal Republican for more than 30 years?
I challenge my readers to find anyone who has done more than me to get more Blacks actively engaged with this party. With less than two months before a presidential election in which our nominee and the party are having major problems attracting Black voters, the RNC hires a law firm to take me to court over something I created. Really?
Well, if they want a fight, that’s exactly what I’m going to give them.
In 1520, Pope Leo X excommunicated famed reformer Martin Luther, because he had the audacity to challenge the authority of the pope. This challenge was issued in the form of Luther’s “95 Theses.” The pope ordered Charles V, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation, to give Luther a chance to change his mind.
Took a stand
Knowing that he was right in his actions and having the people on his side, Luther stood before the Imperial Diet at Worms and made his now famous declaration:
“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”
Herein, I likewise make my stand!
Raynard Jackson is founder and chairman of Black Americans for a Better Future.