After two years of having to search far afield for inspirational minority leaders to honor, the Republican National Committee scored a hat trick Wednesday by celebrating the arrival in Washington of freshly elected Reps. Mia Love of Utah and Will Hurd of Texas, along with Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.
The trio of groundbreaking lawmakers was feted at the third annual Black Republican Trailblazer Awards luncheon hosted by the RNC. Staff estimated some 300-odd attendees crowded into the Howard Theatre — a group that included one-time Washington Redskins wide receiver Antwaan Randle El and New York Jets owner Robert Wood Johnson IV — to commemorate the dual celebration of Black History Month and the party’s monumental gains in the past election cycle.
“My commitment to you as chairman is to continue building a bigger, stronger more inclusive Republican Party, not because it’s good for our party, but because it’s good for our country,” GOP head Reince Priebus assured supporters. Per aides, the annual gathering — which Priebus launched at the Capitol Hill Club in 2013 — has grown largely through word of mouth. The original crop of honorees included former Secretary of Transportation William T. Coleman Jr., and ex-Nixon administration aide Robert J. Brown. Last year's class included Detroit businessman Bill Brooks, retired Ohio District Court of Appeals Judge Sara J. Harper and Louis W. Sullivan, founding dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine.
“To me it’s startling that we have to have all these firsts,” a somewhat puzzled Johnson said of having had to wait until 2015 for certain delegations to finally send their first black politicians to Capitol Hill.
In a pre-recorded video, Scott chose to accentuate the positive. “One lifetime is all it takes to go from what my grandfather was doing — picking cotton — to have a grandson serve in the Senate,” he said.
While everyone else appeared to be perfectly in sync, the house DJ orchestrated a few awkward moments.
“Oh, you get Sister Sledge,” co-host Roland Martin (who walked out to an Earth, Wind and Fire tune) noted while welcoming RNC Co-Chairman Sharon Day — who boogied her way out to the podium while “We Are Family” blared — to the stage.
Seconds after Coldplay’s “Clocks” began wafting through the venue to signal Hurd’s departure, Martin raced to the podium and demanded the song be cut off. A fellow Aggie, Martin held up his smartphone and played Hurd off with the Texas A&M fight song.
Meanwhile, the consensus among several onlookers was that Priebus would be a fool if he doesn’t lock down the D.C.-based choir, Patrick Lundy & the Ministers of Music, for every event from now until November 2016.
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