BY THE FLORIDA COURIER STAFF
DAYTONA BEACH – The Republican National Committee (RNC) hosted its 4th Annual Black Republican Trailblazer Awards luncheon at Bethune-Cookman University on Feb. 4 – a few days before an awards ceremony of the same name was to be hosted by a former Black GOP consultant in Washington, D.C.
The theme in Daytona Beach was “Pursuing The Promise.” The annual event celebrates Black History Month by honoring Black Republicans who have blazed a path for future leaders, according to the RNC.
The program also highlighted the Republican Leadership Initiative and included Black Republican elected officials, state and county party chairs, supporters, community leaders, students, and local and national media.
Chairman in Daytona
At B-CU, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus presented the 2016 Trailblazer Award to Alphonso Jackson, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) from 2004-2008.
Jackson, a former housing authority executive director in St. Louis and Dallas with extensive municipal governmental experience, was appointed under President George W. Bush, then unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Jackson later served as the distinguished university professor and Director of the Center for Public Policy and Leadership at Hampton University.
Currently, Jackson works as a senior advisor at First Data.
‘Pursued the promise’
“While staying true to Republican principles, Secretary Jackson went from marching for civil rights to creating strong, sustainable, and inclusive communities for all during his time leading HUD. As we honor Secretary Jackson, a Black Republican trailblazer, we draw inspiration for building a better future and continue to pursue the promise of equal opportunity for all,” said Priebus.
“It is special to receive this award at historic Bethune-Cookman University,” Jackson responded.
“It is because of the determined sacrifice of trailblazers before me, like (Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune) and (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) that I’m able to be recognized today for my contributions to the country.”
The B-CU luncheon was not without controversy. GOP consultant, newspaper columnist and longtime Black Republican Raynard Jackson distributed a column harshly criticizing the RNC’s staff, which he accused of stealing his luncheon idea and violating the trademarked name. (Raynard Jackson is no relation to Alphonso Jackson.)
‘Blinded by loyalty’
“I foolishly allowed the leadership of the RNC to use me and then discard me,” Jackson wrote. “…I was blinded by my party loyalty in my foolish belief that they were finally serious about the Black community….I cannot and will not have any involvement with a national committee that has so little regard for me personally and the Black community at large that they would not only infringe upon my intellectual property rights; but also try to emulate my idea by prostituting it with their incompetence.”
A search of federal trademark records indicates that Raynard Jackson filed a trademark application for “Black Republican Trailblazer Awards Luncheon” on Nov. 30, 2015; the RNC filed a subsequent trademark application for the same name on Feb. 1, 2016. Neither application has been examined or registered.
Raynard Jackson’s affiliated non-profit organization, Black Americans for a Better Future, will hold its own Trailblazer luncheon on Feb. 14 in Washington, D.C. Former Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll is one of the awardees.