L-R Gary James, David Gun Kemp Chief of Staff, Joe Holland NYS Senate Can. Joan Dawson NYS Assembly Can. Leroy Owens Harlem GOP district leader
Advent of President Donald J. Trump is the symptom of a political malignancy in the Republican Party that has infected and metastasized in the body politic over decades. Beginning in 1980 with the President Reagan administration to the end of the George W. Bush administration in 2008, the rate of attrition of black Republicans in New York is a dynamic and colorful political story of which little is known. Apart from the insular nature of how the New York Republican County Committee politics operates can be characterized as esoteric; the fact that in New York the Democratic Party holds an over whelming numerical advantage, and the liberal political orientation of the city is a well-known historical fact of life. Therefore, it is no surprise that local GOP electoral politics doesn’t raise to public attention and discourse over the eternal political rhetoric and activism of the city’s liberal and left-wing of the majority party.
During the time President Ronald Reagan in 1980 there was a significant and impressive contingent of black Republicans in New York State and in the five (5) boroughs of New York City. The demographic of the black Republican contingent was virtually the opposite of black folk in the Democrat Party, which was comprised of growing numbers of students and young adults. The black GOP were generally older, family oriented, employed but a significant number of businesses. There was also a visible presence of Republican community based political clubs in all the boroughs of the city.
Between 1980 and 2008, the rate of attrition with respect to the black Republicans contribution to local politics
decreased dramatically and exponentially. By way of the central character of “Harlem Republican” we are guided through the high-point in New York’s Republican Party electoral politics. The political trajectory of the grassroots activist wing of the Republican Party offers a journey that begins with the Re-election of the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1984 and grow when the central character as coordinator of the New York State Gubernatorial campaign of the late Justice Andrew O’Rourke in 1986. This was followed-up with delegating for Honorable Congressman Jack Kemp during his 1988 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.
Accordingly, political activities on the ground with stalwart Republican Party players such as Mr. Roger Stone Jr., Honorable Lee Atwater, Honorable Haley Barbour, among others on the State Republican Party. The story line presents national and state Republican officials as supporters of outreach initiative within the black community. But on the contrary there was also vociferous bigotry and race based discrimination among some white GOP officials. The narrative articulates the receptiveness of officials in the National Republican Committee (RNC), New York State Republican Committee, and several in the state legislature. They articulate their uniqueness and their ‘affirmative action’ (first-person singular) and demonstrated a keen interest in making the party competitive in local elections, by way of building a strong black American presence in the GOP.
Specifically, the New York Republican County Committee, and the Bronx County Republican Committee, implemented ad-hoc rules that compromised growth of the party at the county level, for decades and undermined growth of an elected black GOP district leader infrastructure for decades. The New York Republican County Committee (Harlem) for example, maintained a strange bed-follow relations with the Democrat Party county leadership for forty-years (40) beginning in 1970. While the state and national Republican party organizations were receptive outreach in the black community from the 1980s to the 1990s, the GOP county committee’ in New York City methodically and thoroughly thwarted party building in the black community.
New York Republican County Committee since 1970 gave the Republican Party ballot for Harlem’s coveted House of Representative seat to Congressman Charles Rangel. During his 3 decades political career he became dean of the New York Democratic Congressional delegation. Congressman Rangel was the head-Negro-in-charge as a practical political matter as he was given the Republican ballot for his entire. Touted as Harlem’s ‘responsible’ black political leaders, the work on the good congressman was politically juxtaposed to his predecessor the former Congressman Powell Jr. The so-called “flamboyant” Powell was boiled in political controversy but the congressman’s embraced black power ‘militant’ Stokely Carmichael. While some ague that the political footprint of the civil rights movement achieved impressive statutory advances. Concomitantly, the footprint of the civil rights movement occurs in conjunction with the demise of ‘black power’ political consciousness advocates.
When the political smoke cleared in 1992 during the re-election campaign of President George H. W. Bush administration the black Republican infrastructure in New York had virtually disappeared. On the ground in the five (5) boroughs of the city there was no trace of the colorful GOP presence in the communities. On the other hand the civil rights leadership orthodoxy became the sine qua non, for the entry of black Americans in to electoral politics, which was essentially a Democratic Party proposition.
Voters Anonymous, political education initiative hosted a presidential debate at Windows Over Harlem located on 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd in September of 2000. Ms. Angela Sailor a representative of the Republican National Committee represented the Gov. Bush campaign, but no representative of the Vice President Gore campaign. Congressman Charles Rangel or a representative was expected to show-up on behalf of the Vice President there the event proceeded enthusiastically.
President George W. Bush won a second term Ms. Sailor became an Aid to President Bush as the representatives
of Voters Anonymous contributed to the administration and reelection campaign with Ms. Sailor as the interlocutor. Unfortunately, the colorful presence in the neighborhood of the city had vanished without a trace. Only black appointed district leaders remained and their political role was running downfield political interference against local organic GOP community leadership. Ultimately, the designated Harlem district leadership lost passion of the Harlem Republican Club and distinguished them by crudely undermining the continuation of the weekly White House conference on small business development.
Following the second term of the Bush administration Gary James the prime political mover of the New York based Black Republican Council moved beyond the political realm of the New York Republican County Committee, and made of political pivot following the GOP controversy in the presidential election of 2008.
In 2008 we engaged the New Era Coalition of Democrats and Republican for the election of Senator Barack Obama President of the United States of America. After a successful campaign Gary relocated to the island of St. Croix, the birthplace of his paternal family line in the United States Virgin islands to research and other projects. Hence, the Harlem Republican.
“HARLEM REPUBLICAN” is one of the projects underway…