By Tommy Meade, HBCU Buzz

I wonder if freshman Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul knew what he was getting himself into when he spoke at the ‘Mecca’ Howard University earlier this month.

Paul said his friends told him he’s “either brave or crazy” for showing up at Howard but should he receive credit for his outreach to the black community at Howard? Carl Tate writing for The Daily Progress thinks so.


The Daily Progress:

Kudos to the junior senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul. Paul dared to venture where few Republicans do nowadays: He gave a speech at Howard University, the historically black university headquartered in Washington. I can finally say I Stand with Rand.

Sen. Paul, son of Ron, was the first prominent Republican to actually show up at the HBCU in more than 20 years — the last, of course, being former Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater, who sat on the Howard board of trustees before a forced resignation (I could write a whole column on that debacle).

And he actually made a richly compelling case for the students to support the Republican Party and conservative policies.


Indeed, Sen. Paul should receive credit for his visit to Howard, simply because no other notable Republican step foot on the yard in more than 20 years.

(Former chairman of the Republican National Committee Lee Atwater once served on the board of trustees of Howard University, but student sit-ins at the school’s main administration building led to his resignation.)

Though Republicans won’t make inroads with blacks by speaking on events that happened 150 years ago, President and chief executive officer of the NAACP Benjamin Jealous believes that they can champion civil rights issues.

“Moving from “tough on crime” to “smart on crime” would be good for this country,” said Jealous in a op-ed article on CNN. “It would also be a smart move for the Republican Party if they ever hope to get on base with black voters.”

But if the GOP wants to “embark on a year-round effort to engage with African-American voters,” or “engage historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with the goal of educating the community on Republican ideals and the Party’s history,” they will need a lot more than a guideline (the “Growth and Opportunity” project) on how to have peace relations with minorities.