At a Republican National Committee event at Washington DC’s Howard Theater Wednesday afternoon, rising conservative star Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) exhorted the audience to “remove ourselves from a different kind of slavery, the slavery that comes from being dependent on people in power.”
RNC chairman Reince Priebus showcased the party’s ongoing commitment to outreach to the black community, before presenting awards to Love, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who were all elected this November.
“In the last two years,” said Priebus, who has made minority outreach a priority, “the Republican Party dramatically increased our engagement in black communities, in black media, and among black voters. As I have said many times, we have to be a party that listens to everyone and fights for everyone.”
The other two recipients took a less dramatic tone. Sen. Scott focused on education and told a story about his grandfather, who couldn’t read, bringing a newspaper to the dinner table and pretending to read it.
“I feel like my trail is about three feet long, and some others have been working miles and miles of trails,” Scott said. “On their shoulders I stand.”
He also asked conservatives to recognize “the potential of neighborhoods,” and that “when that happens, the conservative revolution, the amazing renaissance… will be a reality in America.”
The memory of Sen. Edward Brooke III of Massachusetts, the first black Senator elected since Reconstruction and a Republican, was heavy in the air, given his passing in January. He was given a posthumous award and remembered in a speech by RNC Co-Chairman Sharon Day.
Brooke’s legacy is somewhat interesting in the context of the new generation of black Republican legislators. Though he was almost a lifelong Republican, Brooke was also resolutely pro-abortion, even supporting federally-funded abortions for poor women. In contrast, Reps. Love and Hurd, and Sen. Scott, are all strongly pro-life. Though black voters are divided on the issue — according to a 2013 Pew poll, a majority of black protestants oppose overturning Roe v. Wade but also think abortion is morally wrong. According to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate in the black community is four times higher than among whites.