Republican Trailblazers Gala Honors Largest Class of African-American Lawmakers

Rep. Mia Love of Utah is one of three black Republicans in Congress — the largest class since Reconstruction. Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Rep. Mia Love of Utah is one of three black Republicans in Congress — the largest class since Reconstruction.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Republican National Committee held its third annual RNC Black Republican Trailblazers awards on Wednesday. The theme of this year’s event was paying homage to the achievements of black Republicans past and present.

The program was held at The Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., and marked the historic elections of Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, Utah’s Rep. Mia Love, and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Together, they make up the largest class of black Republicans in Congress since Reconstruction.

The Trailblazers gala comes at a critical time for a Republican Party, as it used the event as both a showcase for the party’s black talent and a continuation of its effort to expand its reach to communities of color.

From the outset, the RNC got all of the atmospherics right. There was a gospel choir on stage singing what is commonly referred to as the Black National Anthem: “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The show was emceed by black television personality Roland Martin and conservative pundit Tara Setmayer Love and — of course — the black preacher to offer prayer before the start of the banquet.

For the room full of black conservatives, this was indeed a celebration — a tribute to Republican breakthroughs. The first African-American elected to the Senate in the 20th century, Edward Brooke III of Massachusetts, was honored. In a video tribute to Brooke, the late senator proclaimed: “I don’t want you to vote against me because I’m black, and I don’t want you to vote for me because I’m black. I want you to vote for me because you believe I can do the job. And I can do it better than the other candidate.”

The tributes moved to present-day trailblazers — the three current lawmakers being honored.

Rep. Hurd is the first black Republican from Texas.

“When I was 22 years old, I started in the CIA and I moved to Washington D.C. … and I never would have thought I’d be standing on this stage being mentioned in the same sentences as some of these luminaries we’ve addressed today,” Hurd said.

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Source: NPR | BRAKKTON BOOKER

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