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The Green Room was filled with cheerful greetings amongst the many champions of public policy.
Provocative conversations about China's economy and its impact on the US economy, Nannie Helen Burroughs cultural impact and the chasms between the Republican establishment and Tea Party radicals were fervent and boisterous.
Amidst the afternoon's electricity, a 5-year-old girl named Unique stood, bracing herself between two chairs, awaiting the opportunity of her life. How great it would be to return to her DC charter school to tell all that she had met her favorite Trailblazer.
Was she waiting for the elegant, former Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll? No. Maybe it was one of America's Great Jack Kemp Urban Economic pioneers, Robert Woodson, that stirred her fancy? No. Unique's choice of admiration was for a conservative that best supported her efforts to lead her dance and baton twirl team--Music Star BriaMarie. Posing with the "Fresh Princess", pressing her autographed CD to her heart, Unique exuded a sense of appreciation, ambition and hope that could only be found at the Fourth Annual “Black Republican Trailblazer Awards Luncheon™” in Washington, DC.
“Black Americans for a Better Future”, founded by longtime Republican political operative, syndicated newspaper columnist and author Raynard Jackson, hosted a transformational, intergenerational weekend event.
Jackson chose the Willard International, across the street from the White House, to openly defy the myth, accepted woefully on both sides of the aisle, that it is a bleak pursuit of promise to recruit voters from Urban America.
With grace and precision, he honored such Titans as Carroll, Woodson, Trailblazing financier Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr., Legendary ABA/NBA Basketball Player James “Jimmy” Jones, George H. W. Bush Presidential Library CEO Fred D. McClure and Webster University Graduate School Professor Allegra McCullough while promoting the values and principles of the conservative movement. Jackson weaved the personal victories of titans with the aspirations of grassroots champions not availed the limelight by National Republican organizations.
Who'd heard of West Virginia Delegate Jill Upson (R) outside of the coal mines of the Appalachian Mountains? Having lost by 286 votes to a Democrat incumbent in 2012, she faced challenges deemed insurmountable by those that believe outreach is advancing "anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage" messaging in urban centers during elections. She faced a Democrat incumbent in a population of highly registered Democrats.
With the encouragement of WV GOP Chair Conrad G. Lucas II, in 2014, Upson took her "limited, lean and effective government and low taxes" message to We the People and became the first Black Female Republican ever to represent West Virginia District 65.
Standing before the honorees, Upson enlightened us that victorious Trailblazers, obscured by the competition for every black voter, desire national notoriety through media invitations and fiscal support for their grassroots achievements. October endorsements before November general elections are nice but, pioneering campaigns need the reward of faithful party supporters.
Upson is not the only candidate desiring to "feel the love" of a party that is repenting from its years of absence from Urban America and rededication to black voters.
Ralph Chittams, Sr., DC GOP Vice Chairman, and Teri Galvez, DC Republican National Committeewoman Nominee represent the faces of urban conservative messengers that have trail blazed in communities adverse to the GOP machine.
Each seeking delegate posts at the Republican National Convention understands that the modern GOP must not only be seen and heard but must protect the values and principles of the GOP Platform.
Chittams advises that, while bold electoral candidates are great, the real power is behind the scenes in recruiting men and women that desire not to change the platform to recruit voters but seek to secure the platform to re-engage voters.
The re-engagement is essential to reach persons that, after 50 years of Democrat rule, seek a message of entrepreneurship, safe neighborhoods and prosperity that is not dependent on bureaucratic promises.
On islands in urban progressive party politics, for once, Chittams and Galvez could see that their pioneering in the winter of Urban GOP discontent was meriting the attention and hope that they deserved.
Jackson knows that urban warriors have been holding down the fort in the absence of the National GOP support for decades. The Weekend gave hope to Trailblazer Awardee "Jimmy" Jones who by sport reaches people that have become deaf to the "outreach" offense.
It gave hope to Harold E. Doley II, son of Trailblazer Awardee financier Ambassador Harold E. Doley, Jr., as he seeks opportunities to open capital access to urban innovators and businesses mired in the dearth of financial deserts.
It gave hope to Shannon Wright running for Baltimore City Council President who has to rebuild the City GOP while campaigning against the Black Lives Matter Machine. Help is on the way. For a five-year-old baton twirler, there is hope. She could love her hero up close and pioneer for the future in the same place.
Yes, Unique, you are the Promise and we should pursue you with all of our heart, our mind, our soul and our strength. You are worthy of the chase not because of the color of your skin but because of the content of your beautiful, youthful character. Trail blaze on, Baby, Trail blaze on.
Kenneth McClenton is the host of The Exceptional Conservative Radio Show.