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The Black Tea Party

By Jessica Chasmar (7/19/11)

“If I could only live up to the glory and grace of the Uncle Tom character.”

Frantz Kebreau, a race relations advocate and grandson of the former president of Haiti, Francois Duvalier, spoke at the Best Western in Alachua June 21 to a crowd of about 150 Tea Partiers. He is married, a father of 5, a Republican and a Tea Party activist. He is also black.

Wait, what?

Kebreau gave an hour-and-a-half lecture to the crowd, speaking about the “real” history that public education has failed to teach kids and how “identity politics, race, white guilt, political correctness and racism are what will bring our country down.”

As I’ve demonstrated in my “Who are These People?” article, Gallup has shown that the Tea Party is “representative of the public at large.” But what some people in the media fail to recognize is that many black, conservative and libertarian men and women are joining forces with the Tea Party Movement, contrary to what Chris Matthews may want you to think.

So why are we just now hearing about it?

The answer is a fear of the Uncle Tom Syndrome. Black Republicans are often castigated by their communities. Just look at former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele. All one needs to do is type “Michael Steele Tom” into a search engine and you’ll see hundreds of articles and blogs accusing him of being just that: a sellout.

A Washington Times article posted in 2005 reported that black Democratic leaders in Maryland defended their racial attacks against Steele because he is a conservative Republican. “Such attacks include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an ‘Uncle Tom’ and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log… black Democrats say there is nothing wrong with ‘pointing out the obvious.’”

With the risk of being shunned by their peers, it’s no wonder that some black conservatives are fearful to speak up. In his lecture in Alachua, Kebreau often referenced his own experiences of friends and family questioning and criticizing his conservative political stance.

But things are beginning to change. The first black Tea Party held its inaugural meeting this past January at the “This Is It” Soul Food Restaurant in the heart of Houston’s 3rd Ward. The Tea Party group was named after abolitionist icon Crispus Attucks, who died in the Boston Massacre and is often remembered as the first black hero of the American Revolution. The Tea Party’s press release read:

"Our primary objective is to break the cycles of dependency and decay that continue to anesthetize and hold captive too many Black families and neighborhoods… Our objective is to teach all Americans the fullness of the history of Blacks in America and to help Blacks gain control of their lives and the destiny of their children… Spawned in the ’60s, these social engineering experiments, government programs and the arrogant utopian value systems which produced them, continue to produce urban decay, increasing cyclical welfare dependency, increasing tax burdens (for those who pay taxes), the demise of the Black family, fatherless homes, skyrocketing out-of-wedlock births, more abortions than births, a rise in Black militancy and separatist activity and theft of real political power from all of those living in Black neighborhoods."

Black Americans began to favor the Democratic Party ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” days, when some programs were put in place to give economic relief to minorities. The Democratic Party received widening support by the black community when Democratic Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson supported the Civil Rights Movement. But before the 1930s, black Americans almost unanimously favored the Republican Party.

According to the chairwoman of the National Black Republican Association, Frances Rice, in "Why Martin Luther King [Jr.] was Republican," Democrats fought for slavery. The Klan was created in 1866 by Democrats who didn’t want to terrorize blacks, they wanted to terrorize Republicans (the party blacks aligned themselves with) so that the Democrats could gain control. Democrats also fought to prevent the passage of the civil rights laws of the 1860s, 1950s and 1960s.

Rice also points out that Republicans Sen. Charles Sumner and Rep. Benjamin F. Butler proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1875 that guaranteed everyone the same treatment in public accommodations. The act was signed by Republican President Ulysses S. Grant. Democrat President Harry Truman’s issued an Executive Order in 1948 to desegregate the military, but Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower is the one who took action to end segregation in the military during the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944.

Eisenhower proposed the Civil Rights Act of 1957, where Sen. Strom Thurmond, a Democrat at the time, gave a record-breaking, 24-hour and 18-minute filibuster speech to keep it from passing.

Democratic public safety commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor unleashed dogs and turned fire hoses on black civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham. And according to Rice, John F. Kennedy opposed the 1963 March on Washington by Martin Luther King, Jr. that was organized by a black Republican, A. Phillip Randolph. Due to a tip by J. Edgar Hoover, Kennedy, through his brother Atty. Gen. Robert Kennedy, had King and other members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference wiretapped and investigated by the FBI on suspicion of being Communists.

Historian and author David Barton in the “American Heritage Series” documents the Republican fight to end slavery during the reconstruction era. During the Civil War, Republicans amended the Constitution with the 13th Amendment, granting blacks freedom. The amendment passed with 100 percent Republican support and only 23 percent support from Democrats. Fast forward to 1868 when Republicans passed the 14th Amendment, which granted blacks citizenship. The amendment passed without one Democrat voting for it. Then in 1870, when the question of voting rights came up, Republicans passed the 15th Amendment. After the new Constitution passed, a number of black Americans, mostly ex-slaves, were elected to Congress. All seven were Republicans.

When Republicans were in control of the House, Senate and presidency, 23 civil rights laws were passed in the 14 years between 1861 and 1875. But notice how 89 years passed between the last civil rights law passed in 1875 and the next civil rights law in 1964. It’s not a coincidence that in 1876, Democrats regained partial control of Congress and kept it during that time.

According to Merle Black in “The Transformation of the Southern Democratic Party,” today’s southern Democratic Party has been largely transformed since the ’60s: “A party originally created by racist southern white men to enhance and maintain their perceived interests has now become the political home of African Americans, liberal and moderate whites, and Hispanics.”

"Democrats have been running our inner-cities for the past 30 to 40 years, and blacks are still complaining about the same problems," said Frances Rice. "More than $7 trillion dollars have been spent on poverty programs since Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty with little, if any, impact on poverty."

The Crispus Attucks Tea Party was formed to bring the descendents of black slavery to the realization that welfare checks and government dependency are key elements to modern-day slavery. According to the organization, entitlement programs have destroyed lives, families and their neighborhoods. “Government dependency holds blacks hostage. It precludes true liberty and forever blocks full assimilation.”

The bigger picture, however, is that every Tea Party group, black or white, stands for less government in its citizens’ lives and thus, less government dependency by its citizens. We obviously can’t cut people off from government assistance abruptly, so the question is how to instill a sense of pride back into the citizenry who has relied on the government to bail them out in a time of desperation. The truth is, we are a very forgiving and generous nation and more fortunate Americans have always been willing to open their wallets when they see people are in a time of need, especially when those more fortunate Americans are taxed less. Tea Partiers support charities, churches and private organizations to rely on the kindness and generosity of the American public to help support the less fortunate, not the federal government. The Tea Party is not a party of racism, hatred and vitriol; it is a party of personal responsibility and true liberty.