I’ve been involved in the Republican Party for most of my adult life and continue to be amazed at the lack of interest the party shows toward the Black community. Those who have followed my writings over the years know that I have been extremely critical of the party regarding this issue. But, I have been even more critical of the individuals the party chooses to showcase as the face of Black Republicans. I find many of these individuals to be an embarrassment to me as a person of color, as well as to the Republican brand. Many of the Black faces that are trotted out in front of the cameras have absolutely no connection to the Black community.
Despite public perception there are Black Republicans who possess both political and policy expertise that the party could and should tap in to. They exemplify the best of Republican values and thoroughly understand the need for the party to be more diverse. Here are some influential Black Republicans that most folks have never heard of but should. —Raynard Jackson
1. DR. ADA M. FISHER, MD, MPH
Dr. Fisher is currently serving as the National Committeewoman from the state of North Carolina, where she is part of the governing body that decides policy and direction for the Republican National Committee. She is the first African American to ever serve in this capacity in the history of the state of North Carolina. Dr. Fisher is also a life member of the NAACP and a lifelong Republican, like her father and grandfather. In addition, she is a civil rights pioneer, a physician, educator, and a frequently sought after public speaker. She is someone I affectionately call the “Fannie Lou Hamer” of the Republican Party—meaning she always speaks the truth as she sees it and cannot be bought off of her principles.
2. DAVID J. BYRD
A lifelong Republican from New Jersey, Byrd, has worked on the local, state and federal level in positions of great influence and power. He started off working for Lee Atwater at the Republican National Committee and then moved his way up to more influential positions. For instance, he served in several senior level positions with former Republican Governor of New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman. These positions included Special Assistant to the Governor for Economic Development all the way to director, office of Small Business, New Jersey, Commerce and Economic Growth Commission. Byrd went on to be appointed by former president, George W. Bush, as Associate Commissioner, Office of External Affairs, U.S. Social Security Administration. He also served as Chief of Staff to former Maryland Republican Lt. Governor, Michael Steele. Byrd is now Managing Director of Global Political Solutions, a D.C. based government affairs firm.
3. SHANNON REEVES
Reeves holds the distinction of being the only person to serve four consecutive terms as President of the Oakland, CA branch of the NAACP. He is also the only person ever to serve simultaneously as an elected NAACP President and an elected officer of the California Republican Party (he served as Secretary of the California Republican Party, making him the highest-ranking Black party official in the state’s history). Reeves simultaneously founded Freedom Fund, Inc., a nonprofit organization structured to manage and operate Chevron gas and convenience stores in Oakland, CA. This inner-city business enterprise maintained a staff of approximately 37 employees and generated annual sales of approximately $13 million. Currently, Reeves is the Managing Partner of Reeves Strategies, LLC, a government affairs, corporate relations and political consulting firm. He was elected to the Louisiana Republican State Central Committee in 2011.
4. MIA LOVE
Love is the current mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah and a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives. If elected, she would be the first Black Republican female ever elected to Congress. She ran for a seat on the city council in 2004 and after serving six years, ran for and became mayor. Under her leadership, Saratoga Springs has the highest bonding rating for a city of its size—AA+. Smart money is saying that she has an excellent chance of winning the Republican nomination for Congress, as well as winning the seat. Regardless of what happens with this race, you have not heard the last of Mia Love.
5. FRANCIS M. JOHNSON
Johnson is both a “money” guy and a grassroots organizer. He plays on the money level within the Republican Party and has the ability to make a few phone calls and raise thousands of dollars very quickly. Just as important, as a public relations executive, he has the ability and understanding of how to mobilize voters into action. Johnson is a grassroots organizer that many in the party have come to depend on.