As race relations reach their lowest point in Barack Obama’s presidency, several African-Americans attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, told NewsOne they do not see color, and are looking for Donald Trump to unite the nation on race and economy issues.
The statements come on the eve of Trump’s formal presidential nomination, and a day after Ted Cruz was booed off stage for failing to endorse the Republican presidential nominee.
“I think Trump will be great for jobs in the African-American community,” Bishop E.W. Jackson Sr., an alternate delegate who won the nomination for lieutenant governor in Virginia in 2013, told NewsOne.
As for Cruz, Jackson says the Texas senator committed political suicide.
“I thought Ted Cruz’s speech was an utter disaster for him,” Jackson said. “First of all, like it or not, this is Donald Trump’s convention. Donald Trump won the nomination, and if you are going to come into his convention, you can speak, but you have to at least offer your nominal support. He failed to do that. I think he did very serious, maybe fatal, political damage to his career.”
Glo Smith, an alternate Republican Florida delegate from Orlando who is running for office in the new 5th congressional district, agreed with Jackson, but she made no dire predictions about Cruz’s career. Both Jackson and Smith supported Cruz in the presidential primaries before he dropped out of the race.
“I could tell right away that people were not happy, because like me, the crowd wanted to hear [Cruz] say I actually endorse him,” Smith said. “But he said enough for me to understand that he wants people to support the nominee.”
Smith also expects Trump to unite the nation. “I am looking for Trump to talk about unification of our country, and he can start by putting people back to work,” she said about his nomination speech.
While convention-goers are overwhelmingly White, several Black Republicans told NewsOne they were not bothered by the lack of diversity.
“In politics, people are competing for a number of things,” Jackson said. “They are either competing to be somebody or competing to get something done. They form alliances on the basis of what’s in their best interest. And when they need an ally, they don’t care about the color of your skin if you can bring something to the table. That’s the way it works. We don’t see color.”
In fact, Jackson said more Blacks than Whites have shunned him for being Republican.
“I mean, I’ve talked to Black Christians who claim they love the Lord, who won’t talk to me because I’m a Republican,” he said. “How can you expect more representation and support when you tell people you are a member of the Republican party and they call you a sellout to the Black community, call you an Uncle Tom, and say they hate your guts? Christians need to grow up.”
Smith echoed Jackson’s sentiments, but was more measured. “Because of the environment I was brought up in, I always made myself a part of whatever, even if I look around and I’m the only African-American there.
“I look at why I’m there, what I need to gain and how I need to apply it to my life,” Smith continued. “This is America, we may not agree on everything politically, but let’s do what’s best for our country.”
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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty