Congressman-Elect Allen West's Intention to Join Congressional Black Caucus Cheered by Black Conservatives
Project 21 Members Say Black Republican Will Bring Welcome Change to Group's "Monolithic Voice"
Washington, DC – Congressman-elect Allen West (R-FL) announced that he plans to join the Congressional Black Caucus after his January swearing-in. Members of the Project 21 black leadership network applaud this effort by West -- a black man whose campaign was strongly supported by the tea party movement -- to bring political diversity to an allegedly nonpartisan group currently dominated by liberals who claim to represent the views of all black Americans.
"I can think of no one more qualified to bring a quantifiable voice of decorum and true American opinion to the Congressional Black Caucus than Allen West," said Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie. "The CBC has historically portrayed itself as a voice for black America when they instead articulated extreme, separatist and leftist ideological positions. I have no doubt that Congressman-elect West will bring fresh, new perspectives that Americans of all colors need to hear."
Currently, the CBC has an entirely Democrat membership. Two black Republicans were elected to the House of Representatives in this year's mid-term elections. West told WOR radio: "I plan on joining [the CBC, and] I'm not gonna ask for permission or whatever. I'm gonna find out when they meet and I will be a member... I think I meet all the criteria, and it's so important that we break down this 'monolithic voice' that continues to talk about victimization and dependency in the black community." Congressman-elect Tim Scott (R-SC), the other new black Republican, has not yet said if he plans to try to join the CBC.
While the CBC reportedly has not yet offered congratulations to Congressman-elect West, The Hill newspaper now says that the CBC sent an unattributed e-mail to its current membership saying that the newly elected black Republicans will be "welcomed."
During the campaign, veteran CBC member John Lewis (D-GA) actually campaigned against West. Previously, the CBC had one Republican member -- Gary Franks (R-CT), who served 1991-1997 -- but the rest of the membership at the time voted to exclude Franks from participating in Caucus policy-making. A delegate, Melvin Evans of the U.S. Virgin Islands, was a member while he served from 1979 through 1981. Another black Republican -- J.C. Watts (D-OK), who served from 1995-2003) -- chose not to join the CBC.
Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli warned against a similar shunning of Congressmen-elect West and Scott. Borelli said: "Tragically, abandoning black conservatives is nothing new for black progressive front groups. Black conservatives like myself have thus far encountered a deafening silence when we try to address our concerns to groups such as the CBC and the NAACP. As more black conservatives become vocal about their principles and values these groups ignore people like me and Congressman-elect West at their peril."
"Like so many of black America's self-professed leaders, the CBC must evolve in its thinking to properly serve our community and the nation. Congressman-elect West will help put an end to the monolithic thinking so prevalent among the current Congressional Black Caucus membership on the key issues such as school choice, government regulation and health care reform," said Project 21 member Kevin Martin. "As a veteran U.S. Army officer, West will also bring to the Caucus a much-needed injection of the proper ethical standards which the CBC, in its current form, sorely needs. Too many CBC members now unfortunately face ethics trials or are being dogged by ethics questions."
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).