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As the Number of Black GOP Delegates Falls to Historic Low, Meet a Few of the Only Ones Left

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The Washington Post is reporting there are likely fewer black delegates at this year’s Republican convention than at any point in at least a century. According to the Republican Party’s own data, only 18 of the nearly 2,500 delegates are African-American. That’s less than 1 percent. As recently as 2004, 7 percent of Republican delegates were black. On Wednesday night, Democracy Now!’s Carla Wills tracked down some of the 18 African-American delegates.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, we are “Breaking with Convention: War, Peace and the Presidency.” Democracy Now! is in Cleveland, Ohio, covering the Republican National Convention from the inside out, from the streets to the corporate suites to the convention floor. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting two hours every day. Miss any part of it, go to democracynow.org.

The Washington Post is reporting there are likely fewer black delegates at this year’s Republican convention than at any point in at least a century. According to the Republican Party’s own data, only 18 of the nearly 2,500 delegates are African-American. That’s less than 1 percent. As recently as 2004, 7 percent of Republican delegates were black. On Wednesday night, Democracy Now!’s Carla Wills tracked down some of the 18 black delegates.

JAMES EVANS: James Evans, chair of the Utah Republican Party, Salt Lake City, Utah.

CARLA WILLS: So, I just read in The Washington Post that this year the Republican convention has the lowest number of African-American delegates in like a century. Your thoughts about why the low numbers this year?

JAMES EVANS: Well, first of all, the Republican Party doesn’t believe in quotas. So, we know that the political left, they love identity politics, and you have to have X number percent of this and that. That’s just not how the Republican Party is. There are some years—some conventions, we have higher numbers; others, we have lower numbers. People make choices whether they want to attend or not. And—but we don’t have a quota like the Democratic Party.

CARLA WILLS: So, of course, this year, Donald Trump being the nominee, there were some rallies that were a little bit violent. Do you think that had anything to do with how many African Americans are here this year?

JAMES EVANS: What I’m struggling to see—what does that have to do with Donald Trump? Those were individual Americans expressing themselves, rightly or wrongly, but that has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

CARLA WILLS: Do you not think he should have spoken out more forcefully against those people who attended his rallies that, you know, were saying racist comments?

JAMES EVANS: Well, I think he has spoken out that—against any kind of discrimination. But I think it’s more damaging that the political left plays racial politics and pit groups of people against each other.

CHRISTOPHER HARVEY: Christopher Harvey, from Houston, Texas. I’ve been Republican since I was little. Republicans, we still have a ways to go. But also means that when we go in the black community, they’ve got to open their doors and welcome us. I’ve had friends who campaigned for the Republican Party and got thrown out of churches by the pastor. So it goes both ways.

CARLA WILLS: Do you think perhaps Donald Trump as the nominee had anything to do with the lower numbers this year than before?

CHRISTOPHER HARVEY: I don’t think so. I don’t think so, because he’s only saying how he feels. People take what his words are, and the Democratic Party and, yes, even the media throws it into a racial comment. I’m talking about when black—when he calls out one black person in the audience, say that’s his African American, they call him a racist, while Hillary Clinton said at a black church—well, she didn’t say, but she uses a black dialect at a black church, like “I’s don’t get no’s where’s tired,” like that’s how black people talk. Or when she has to go to—everywhere she goes into a black area, she has to say that she carries hot sauce. I mean, that’s more racist than saying, “That’s my African American.” I mean, I say, “That’s my brother.”

SHARON JACKSON: My name is Sharon Jackson. I’m from Anchorage, Alaska—Eagle River, actually. And I am a delegate. I’m the only African American from the state of Alaska. I don’t know if the Republican convention has a huge number of African Americans, but I must say, I’m pleased to see the African Americans that are here. When the states gave their nomination for Donald Trump, there was probably four, five states that had African-American women announce for their state. And I’m proud of that.

CALVIN TUCKER: My name is Calvin Tucker. I’m from the 2nd Congressional District in Philadelphia. I’m a delegate.

CARLA WILLS: So, I just read a Washington Post article that talked about this being the lowest number of African-American delegates in about a century at the Republican convention. Your thoughts about the lack of diversity, especially with African Americans in this convention?

CALVIN TUCKER: Well, I mean, there are African Americans here. You got delegates and alternate delegates and friends of delegates. I don’t know the numbers specifically. But we have to do our work in the African-American community. There are some deep-seated problems in our community. And the Democrats have run this process for a long time. I don’t know why that is the case, but we need to get to solutions to those problems. And I think that Donald Trump, who is a builder, who understands how to create jobs, and the jobs is a solution to many of the problems that we face. So I think that, again, it’s incumbent on me to make the case to my community that in order to have political leverage and not do the same things over and over and over, that this is an option that we ought to explore.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much to Carla Wills, Democracy Now! producer. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. Those, some of the 18 African-American delegates at the Republican National Convention. The Washington Post is reporting there are likely fewer black delegates at this year’s Republican convention than at any point in at least the last century, less than 1 percent.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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