The Republican National Committee on Wednesday hosted its 3rd Annual Republican Trailblazer Awards Luncheon at the historic Howard Theatre – a venue graced by legendary black luminaries and performers such as Booker T. Washington, Duke Ellington and Drake.
The RNC calls the luncheon “an event that celebrates Black History Month by honoring black Republicans who have blazed a path for future leaders.” This year’s honorees were Utah Rep. Mia Love, Texas Rep. Will Hurd, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and posthumously, former Republican Sen. Edward Brooke, III of Massachusetts who died earlier this year at the age of 95.
The atmosphere was loose and jovial after Patrick Lundy and the Ministry of Music led the audience in a stirring rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing (The Black National Anthem)” – all three verses, even the two that no one can ever seem to remember. Roland Martin, host and managing editor of TVOne’s daily morning show, “NewsOne Now,” co-hosted the event along with CNN political commentator and Blaze TV contributor Tara Setmayer Love.
The two emcees displayed an easy rapport but it was Martin who clearly seemed to thrive on playing to the crowd, telling Rev. Ralph Gilliam before the minister led the room in prayer, “Look, we all know God, we all know Jesus, so I need you to make this quick.”
“It’s good to know Roland goes to church once in a while to know how long preachers can talk,” Gilliam shot back.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus used the occasion to boast about inroads the Republican Party has made to the black community during his time as chair and reiterate his pledge of growing the party.
“Not only is our delegation to Congress more diverse, but we also saw increased support nationally among black voters,” Priebus said during his prepared remarks. “My commitment to you as chairman is to continue building a bigger, stronger, more inclusive Republican Party. Not because it’s good for our party, but because it’s good for our country.”
Rep. Hurd was the first honoree to take the stage, teasing Martin – his fellow Texas A&M alum – and telling the crowd why he’s proud to be a Republican.
“A lot of people don’t know we went to the same alma mater. I want to know, did you wear that ascot when you were in College Station?” Hurd asked Martin before turning more serious. “The Republican Party is willing to help people no matter where they live or what they’re doing. It’s about the Republican Party creating opportunity for all. It’s exciting for me to be here in Washington, D.C., fighting on behalf of those principles.”
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SOURCE: Roll Call