Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee launched a first of its kind effort to meet Black Americans (and would be voters) where they are by partnering with Radio One for #CommittedToCommunity: Engage, Empower, Uplift. The four-week Ohio-based campaign is the pilot in a broader engagement strategy the RNC intends to unleash on various locations across the country leading up to the November 2016 elections.
Focused on “job creation initiatives, an educational opportunity agenda and an emphasis on strong families and safe communities,” #CommittedToCommunity aims to address concerns of importance to Black voters in hopes of garnering major support in the upcoming presidential contest. As noted by Michael K. Powell, President & CEO, NCTA, “With people of color making up an increasingly larger percentage of the American population, political parties are wisely recognizing the importance of educating and mobilizing black voters to be active participants in elections and other political forums.”
Radio One, for its part, provides the RNC with a unique opportunity to appeal to Black voters in a way they never have before. According to Alfred C. Liggins, CEO of Radio One, “the RNC wants to tell its story to the African-American community. Radio One reaches 82% of Black Americans with our television, radio and digital multi-media platforms. We view ourselves as the link to our audience. Our reach, relationships with Black churches, organizations, entertainers, and our unique understanding of our primary audience makes us a high-value partner to organizations like the RNC. We want the Black electorate to be as informed as possible going into the 2016 election season.”
Furthering the point that the Republican Party has something to offer voters of color, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus authored an op-ed early in the week, Why Black Americans Can Vote Their Values And Vote Republican, in which he declared, “rich, poor or middle class, we know that the most pressing and persistent problems that matter to black Americans today are ‘education, jobs, and justice,’ in the words of the National Urban League’s 2015 ‘State of Black America’ report. In Washington and across the country, the Republican Party has real solutions to these very real problems—not just in theory but in practice.”
The image of inclusivity in the Republican Party is trickling down to the states as well. North Carolina is home to the first Black state GOP Chairman, Hasan Harnett, who believes “the post-Obama era provides the GOP an incredible opportunity to reach out to African American voters, particularly because there are a lot of folks out there who are disillusioned by the lofty promises of Candidate Obama vs. the lack of results from President Obama. In North Carolina, we’re already hard at work and making strides… and I think the State Party electing me as Chairman shows that. I believe it takes long-term engagement like the kind Chairman Priebus is emphasizing, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
Time will tell whether the RNC-Radio One #CommittedToCommunity partnership proves fruitful in enabling Black voters to reconsider the Republican Party headed into the 2016 elections. One thing is for sure, for now, RNC Chairman Priebus is committed to the message that “for too long, some have peddled the idea that only one party cares about the social ills and racial disparities that are still too prevalent in society today. Not true. But for too long, Republicans have stood by and let the charge stand unchallenged. Not anymore.”