The Republican focus on African-Americans is evident in Georgia, where a GOP party chapter was recently re-chartered at Morehouse College. Today, the state GOP official charged with minority outreach emphasizes what that party can offer to various ethnic groups, while two Democrats do likewise for their party. To comment, go to: http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-forward/
By Leo Smith
The conservative movement is sweeping through historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) across the United States.
Fiscal restraint, individual responsibility and free-market principles are resonating with young African-American students, and the world is starting to take notice.
Last month, Morehouse College joined the growing list of College Republican organizations popping up at HBCUs, adding to the public discourse and providing ideological choices for college students.
The recently re-chartered Morehouse Republicans are a new voice on campus that tells the other side of the story.
A fully operating, policy-critiquing, conservative student organization on any campus is a big deal. At Morehouse, a historic leader in developing the signature black American male intellect, it is a very big deal.
Beyond educational prowess, Morehouse also has a storied history of developing men who buck the system and shape the annals of history. One such student who walked the grounds of Morehouse was the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. From what we have seen thus far from new Morehouse Republicans Chairman Michael Roundtree and his executive team, Morehouse still fosters leaders — like Dr. King — who are willing to stand against the status quo and fight for freedom.
As a state party, we have a unique opportunity to reach people who normally do not identify with the Republican Party. The Republican Party has more in common with minority groups in Georgia than what separates us. In fact, we have more in common with minority groups than Democrats do.
As the Republican National Committee and the Georgia GOP continue to roll out minority engagement initiatives, the false narrative created by the Democratic Party and the liberal media about the policies and principles of the Republican Party is quickly being replaced with our “Choose Freedom” message that resonates with all ages, genders, colors and creeds. Minority groups that typically side with Democrats are now realizing that conservative principles — not liberal dogma — create jobs, grow the economy and preserve opportunity for generations to come.
The Georgia GOP minority engagement strategy is rooted in a field program that reaches the four corners of the state. It maximizes our ability to connect across race to identify, engage, edify and mobilize new voices that believe in freedom and turn out to vote Republican.
In total, the GOP expects more than 200 new leaders and candidates to emerge from the effort.
It is to be expected that conservatives at Morehouse and atypical Republican voters will be ostracized.
The thousands of black, Asian, Indian and Hispanic Americans who choose to be drum majors leading a different band will face social pressures and tests. But we are inspired by their belief in America and their character to stand on values instead of popularity.
The party welcomes and supports those interested in debating liberty, choosing freedom and connecting America.
More importantly, we stand with them, ready to move this country forward and defend the American Dream together.
Leo Smith is state director for minority engagement for the Georgia Republican Party.
By Steven Golden and Atima Omara
Politics is simple. It’s the means to effect change and ensure our values, democracy and freedoms exist for our generation and generations to come.
Atlanta is privileged to be represented by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a great example of a lifetime of public service. Lewis began his decades-long career in politics at a young age and has served the people of Atlanta and America ever since.
He once said, “When I was 15 years old and in the 10th grade, I heard of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Three years later, when I was 18, I met Dr. King, and we became friends. Two years after that, I became very involved in the civil rights movement. I was in college at that time. As I got more and more involved, I saw politics as a means of bringing about change.”
This statement is a great example for all Atlantans, Georgians and Americans. Youth is not a limit to political involvement or inspiring change; youth is an asset!
Young Georgians know Democrats fight for them every day at every level of government. From student loan reform to job creation, and from marriage equality to health care reform, it has been the Democratic Party fighting for the next generation.
So why is youth political leadership so important in Georgia?
Georgia is an incredibly young state, and young voters are a huge voting bloc. Forty-six percent of Georgia’s electorate is under the age of 35 and, with more than 25 percent of Georgians under the age of 18, that number is positioned to grow in the future.
This year, Georgia’s young people have a great example of younger leaders taking strong positions and running for high office in state Sen. Jason Carter. At 39, Carter is still a Young Democrat who fights every day for the youngest Georgians in his unflinching advocacy for the HOPE Scholarship.
Carter is a great example to all Young Democrats. We have already seen increasing and more energized membership because he is engaging young voters and activists early in his campaign. However, our organization is not simply sitting on its hands until a great champion arises.
From college campuses like Young Harris to high schools in Bryan County and young professional clubs in Atlanta, the Young Democrats of Georgia is organizing young people to not only put Democrats in the Senate and governor’s office, but to build the framework for a bench of progressive leaders from the city council to the state Legislature.
Yes, this is hard work. It takes time. We are young, and a little hard work doesn’t scare us.
Steven Golden is president of the Young Democrats of Georgia, and Atima Omara is president of the Young Democrats of America.