ST CHARLES, IL - Values and principles outweigh skin color, religious affiliation and political parties, conservatives from all over the country were reminded this past weekend at Freedom Journal Magazine's Black Conservative Summit in suburban St. Charles, Illinois.
Conservative African-American leaders such as columnist Star Parker, retired 700 Club co-host Ben Kinchlow, former Bush Administration official Kay Cole James and Bishop Lance Davis headlined discussions that pointed to the summit's basic principles of Responsible government, Individual liberty & fidelity, Strong family values, and Economic empowerment.
"In recent years, conservativism has been unduly maligned as racist, out-of-touch, or labelled as 'just for the rich,'" conference organizer and R.I.S.E principle author Dr. Eric Wallace said as he initiated the meetings. "Our hope is that the R.I.S.E principles can dispell these false notions, and subsequently begin to cause a paradigm shift within those who choose to truly engage."
Wallace's efforts were bolstered by the energetic conversations that went on between blacks, Hispanics and whites during the two-day conference. Topics such as starting and building small businesses, public policy and the role of government were interwoven with workshops on the natural family, abortion and criminal justice - all topics that indicate not all of the American black community is following civil rights leaders such as Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who advocate demanding more from the state.
Former Bush Administration Kay Cole James said when she answered George W. Bush's call to serve, she was eager to make great strides for the country's future.
"We were going to change the culture, we were going to great things for the future," she said. Things were very different forty years ago, when she started public service. "If you wore the hat of a black conservative, and you throw in female and Republican, you got called a lot for different projects," James said, "So I had to work in many different areas, including education and social policies."
"My new mantra when I left public service was that the Christians' job [in government] is no more than to stop the rot," James said.
The black natural family is the future of America's black community, speaker Mason Weaver said. And the black family is where educational opportunity and economic stability can thrive, panel members said in another workshop.
Friday night's particularly lively panel discussion on the "State of the Black Church in America and its effect on the Black Family" featured Ben Kinchlow, Rev. Wayne Perryman, Bishop Lance Davis, Bishop David Hall, and Dr. Louis Toney. While differing on some issues, the speakers agreed that the black church has not yet tapped into the power and influence it could be having on politics nationwide. Their remarks were not particularly favorable to the Obama Administration's social policies, and some urged churches to consider giving up their 501c3 status so they may be more vocal on political issues without fear of losing tax-exempt status.
While both political parties and fiscal conservatives demonstrate they are uncomfortable tying religious to politics and unbinding the family from government, there was no hesitation on the part of the Black Conservative Summit speakers or participants to correlate the issues, and appeal to their political party choices to do the same.
A key solution to the black community's problems come down to blacks voting their values in elections - ignoring partisan affiliations and clinging to values the candidates promote, Dr. Wallace said in his closing remarks Saturday afternoon. "To do anything else is apostasy," Wallace said.
Recordings of the Black Conservative Summit's speakers are available at firstname.lastname@example.org.