It is difficult to imagine a less likely GOP presidential campaign stop than O Block. After all, it’s the most dangerous stretch of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Chicago and one of the toughest territories in the city.
But if Republicans stand a chance of chipping away at Democrats’ dominance over the black vote in this city and elsewhere, it might be something to consider.
“African Americans have been loyal to the Democratic Party,” Pastor Corey Brooks said. “But there is a group of African Americans that feel like the Democratic Party has not been loyal to us.”
Brooks isn’t the only person to believe a great change must occur for inner cities across the country to be able to break free from the poverty and crime that envelope them. But the pastor is looking to a different source than others for that change, one that doesn’t usually count O Block among its campaign stops: Republicans.
So far, only Rand Paul has taken him up on his offer, which was extended to all candidates of each party. The two walked through Parkway Gardens, an apartment complex along O Block, after Paul’s speech to his congregation.
Look around the neighborhood that contains O Block—Woodlawn—and you’ll see why, Brooks said.
“We have a large, disproportionate number of people who are impoverished, who are incarcerated and who are unemployed. The educational system has failed, and all of this has been under Democratic regimes in our neighborhoods,” Brooks said from the office of his New Beginnings Church, Wednesday morning. “So, the question for me becomes, how can our neighborhoods be doing so awful when we’re so loyal to this party? It’s a matter of them taking complete advantage of our vote.”
So Brooks has mobilized. Not only did he take it upon himself to bring Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to New Beginnings as he ran to become the first Republican to lead the state in more than two decades, but Brooks also supported Rauner, something that didn’t exactly come roaring out of Chicago’s South Side.
The reason he invited all presidential candidates to New Beginnings isn’t to secure votes for the GOP, he said, but to give members of the community the opportunity to be as informed an electorate as possible.
And why not? Since the civil rights movement blacks have overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, both on the national and local levels, Brooks noted.
But the results simply aren’t there. “They have a failing plan,” he said of Democrats. “A business owner wouldn’t allow the person who runs it to remain in charge for 50 years, constantly running it into the ground.”
When he first moved to the city he kept his political opinions to himself, not wanting to rock the boat, but after seeing a lack of progress he “couldn’t stomach it.” There is tension, he said, because growing up black on the South Side of Chicago means, for many, “You are a Democrat. Period.”
That has led to the Democratic Party taking the black vote for granted, Brooks said. “And we don’t want anyone from any party taking us for granted.”
He spoke in strong terms about unions—“I can’t tell you how many guys tell me they’re locked out of the trade unions for this reason or that,” Brooks said. “And in Chicago, the unions control everything.”
The pastor is in favor of legally possessing guns, even on the bullet-riddled South Side. And he blames the breakdown of the black family, partly due to social programs that “penalize” those who wish to marry and prevent them from continuing to receive government assistance, for the culture of violence that is so pervasive in urban areas from Woodlawn to West Baltimore.
Full story here.
It’s refreshing to hear from a black leader who finally gets it, as this is something we’ve discussed here many times. Blacks are kept down by the Ds, but they don’t see it or change it, at least not yet. With Brooks’ help and few others who are now speaking up, maybe they can start to turn this around.
It’s doubtful Hillary would be seen there, but all the GOP candidates should take Brooks up on his invitation and visit this area. These people need some straight talk for a change, at least straighter than what they’re getting now.
Brooks is a conservative, a minority in Chicago, and there’s a good chance some of the others in this area are too. They just need it explained to them.