FreedomWorks to launch African-American outreach tour
Supporters attend a 2010 rally in Washington, D.C. organized by FreedomWorks.
September 26th, 2012
12:09 PM ET
2 years ago

FreedomWorks to launch African-American outreach tour

Washington (CNN) – Sometimes in politics, things are black and white – like the historically wide gulf between the black community and the conservative movement.
But a new effort by FreedomWorks, a conservative organization associated with the tea party movement, aims to change that. And a prominent African-African progressive activist says he thinks the outreach effort is premature, misguided and, therefore, not likely to be successful.

With an event Wednesday evening in Pittsburgh, FreedomWorks is launching its national "Black and White Tour," an explicit, unapologetic effort to lobby African-Americans on economic policy issues at the core of the agenda of many fiscal conservatives involved in tea party activism.

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In addition to Pennsylvania, during the tour, FreedomWorks CEO and President Matt Kibbe and FreedomWorks Outreach Director Deneen Borelli plan to visit Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

"Obviously, Deneen is black and I'm white," Kibbe explained. The conservative activist and thinker added that he sees issues of economic policy and economic freedom as relevant to everyone, including African-Americans who have been disproportionately affected by the struggling economy in recent years. "Our theme is that freedom is a black and white issue," Kibbe told CNN.

During the tour, discussion will focus on jobs and the economy, education policy and school choice, and energy policy including the Obama administration's push for green energy, Kibbe said.
"And we're also going to take on some of what we think is the divisive rhetoric coming from the left on race, some of the attacks on the tea party movement," Kibbe also said. "And really get to this idea that in our community and, we believe, in America, you shouldn't be judged based on the color of your skin, but [instead] on the content of your character. And that's what Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] taught us and we're afraid that we've gotten away from that."

Winning African-Americans over to the conservative grassroots movement that has been a foil to President Obama almost since his first day in office will not be an easy task.
A compilation of recent CNN/ORC International polling indicates that 95% of African-Americans support the president while just 3% support GOP challenger Mitt Romney. The same polling indicates that 67% of African-Americans identify as Democrats, 29% as independents, and just 5% as Republicans and 25% of blacks describe their political philosophy as liberal, 38% as moderate, and 32% as conservative.

"We've stepped in the line of fire, I suppose," Kibbe said, when asked about the polling data. "This isn't just an election issue for us," he added, "I think we have to connect with the black community with our ideas, we have to connect with the Hispanic community, we have to connect with young people."

He added, "We're thinking about the future. We don't consider this a one-time political event. It's really a social movement based on a set of values. And if you ignore youth, if you ignore some of the largest – the fastest growing demographics in this country, you're really not thinking strategically about where you need to be. But also it's just a basic principle. We want to be inclusive, we want to include everybody and we don't understand why our country would ever be divided along racial lines philosophically."

Progressive activist and former Obama administration adviser Van Jones said Kibbe and FreedomWorks would be better off first addressing elements within the Republican Party that are nativist and racially hostile to communities of color.

"The very premise of this tour is borderline insulting," Jones, who is African-American, said. "It's as if they think African-Americans don't know what the Republican Party stands for. But we have television; we know. It would be more effective for them to challenge some of those very unfriendly forces inside their own party before passing out invitations for new people to join."

The GOP "used to be the party of [Abraham] Lincoln," Jones added, "but over time it's allowed itself to be infested in too many places – but not everywhere – by individuals and groups that polling data shows are very hostile towards communities of color and immigrants. And no bus tour is going to cover that up or fix it. So I think that it's a strange thing for them to do."
Jones explained that he isn't saying FreedomWorks or the GOP as a whole is racially hostile. "I said they've allowed themselves in too many places to be infested with these folks and that's what's keeping people out of the Republican Party. . . . There are elements in their party, there are elements in their base that are offensive and noxious to vast majorities of people of color."

"The presumption must be that somehow this is just a failure to communicate," Jones added, "as opposed to there's some actual problems in their party that, if they addressed, would make their party more attractive."

Jones also made the point that King championed and the black middle class was built on many of the governmental anti-poverty programs that are now under "withering fire" by the conservative movement.

And responding to FreedomWorks' plan to focus on how African-Americans are doing economically, Jones said "It's very easy to capitalize on people who are hurting. It's harder to explain how the policies that they're promoting would make things better.

"I think that the African-American community is actually pretty sophisticated politically . . . and I think that [FreedomWorks] may go out to give an education about American politics but they may also get educated by a very well-informed and well-educated African-American community that has made a decision about what political party to be in."
After Wednesday's event in Pittsburgh, Kibbe and Borelli plan to take their "Black and White Tour" to Independence, Ohio on October 5.


Filed under: 2012 • Arizona • Colorado • Florida • FreedomWorks • Illinois • Indiana • Louisiana • Ohio • Pennsylvania • Utah • Virginia • Wisconsin
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. rs

    With polling indicating a nearly 0.0% following for Mr. Romney on the part of African Americans, this seems like a total waste of time. Do they really thing they can make up for Mr. Bush ignoring the NAACP convention for 8 years? Mr Romney's 47% statement? The GOPS endless bashing of the President or the TEA Party's overt racism?

    The GOP is delusional-AGAIN.

    September 26, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. Ken in MD

    It'll never work. They can do all the talking they want, the Conservatives do not support anything that helps African-Americans. Unless you're a rich, straight, white, Christian man, the GOP has no interest in helping you.

    September 26, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  3. truth hurts

    Sorry but a waste of time. Race will always trump your message. They have been conditioned for decades by the Democrats. Their race baiting indoctrination has been thoroughly branded on their brain. Only a few brave, independent thinkers have been able to escape the mental bondage of the Democrat Plantation.

    September 26, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "the historically wide gulf between the black community and the conservative movement.

    But a new effort by FreedomWorks, a conservative organization associated with the tea party movement, aims to change that."

    Interesting. Will they be using the Virginia GOP's Obama-as-witchdoctor photoshop job (on Facebook yesterday but yanked down now) as the cover of their outreach brochures?

    September 26, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  5. Me IN HOUSTON

    Most African Americans will never vote for conservatives because conservatives consistently legislate against us and they fight against any initiative that would assist African Americans and poor people alike. Any African American who is aware of current events and remembers the not too distant past and they are not being paid by conservative groups would never vote for them.
    That would be like someone suffering from cancer voting for cancer

    September 26, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    If FreedomWorks was really trying to reach out to the African American community, then they should speak up about voter surpression directly aimed at the African American community. All I hear is crickets.

    September 26, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. Joi Gibson

    While I applaud your efforts – good luck with that. There have been too many nasty, vile things said about President Obama; the voter ID laws; the utter disrespect of President Obama from many on the right; the birther nonsense – you have a lot to answer for. But I wish you well.

    OBAMA/BIDEN/FIRST LADY MICHELLE 2012!!!

    September 26, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. alien

    Republicans are an ingenuous type of people, hypocritic to the core, racist,and conservitive enough not to keep up with changing events, plus they can't stand prosperity for all Americans, but for just a small percentage.

    September 26, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. v_mag

    When it's this late in the game and the writing is already on the wall for Rob-money, a move like this by the lily white Tea Party can only be seen as desperation. Futile and desperate.

    September 26, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. jinx88

    Tea party racist trying to get black votes. I thought I heard it all. First they dont want minorites to vote by passing all these rules now they do. Sounds like Mittens flip floping.

    September 26, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    Any people of color in the picture? I don't see any. Case closed.

    September 26, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Weren't these the same folks that came out here to DC BY THE THOUSANDS within 2 months of President's Obama inauguration with placards showing drawings and pictures of Obama as a witchdoctor, in a casket, and plenty of them carrying stuffed monkeys with Obama's name written across the front? And how about the "Taking our Country Back" signs? Hundreds of those. Oh, and the guns. Yes they brought their own guns.
    And now, ONE MONTH before the election, they are doing some kind of outreach to get the Black vote?
    How about they start by apologizing to THEIR PRESIDENT for some of the most hateful gatherings I've ever witnessed?
    The only things that were missing were the white sheets.

    Obama 2012.

    September 26, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. NotFooledByDistractions

    "FreedomWorks to launch African-American outreach tour" BWWAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

    Hey FW, "African-American" is not synonymous with stupid.

    September 26, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  14. 1twinsfan

    What does that sign say?

    "Share my work ethic, not my money."

    Um yeah, good luck FreedomWorks.

    September 26, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. Facts don't Lie

    maybe they can tell us why after all these years and especially the final 4 years of GW Bush did we get a Tea Party movement under the first Black US president. And some of the signs I recall seeing at some Tea Party rallies were quite racist as well. But I'm sure if they put people like Allen West, Herman Cain, or Clarence Thomas out there to recruit that will win the AA community over.

    September 26, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    This may come to as a shock to CNN, but not all blacks feel that the world owes them a living, and not all blacks are beholden to the Democratic Party for welfare hand outs.

    September 26, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. rs

    truth hurts-
    Yeah, the GOP's attempts to roll back voting rights for minorities certainly is a great way to bring them into the fold. Democratic indoctrination- you're funny!

    September 26, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. yasmine

    who are they trying to fool..

    what happened...did you just start paying attention to the polls and see that the political map is changing? Did you just notice that you couldn't get rid of Eric Holder so the full on plan to dis-enfranchise African American voters from voting is not going as plan since he is free to file lawsuits and give local judges the chance to deem those unjust laws... unjust?

    We remember the teaparty members going to DC with racist signs ... just last year.... we remember the teaparty members spitting on black members of congress... just last year...

    we remember the continual lying teaparty member propagate ... that only black people are on welfare...

    the problem for the teaparty and Freedomworks.. is that we are paying attention..

    September 26, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. LacrosseMom

    "FreedomWorks"?????????????????? How about VOTER SUPPRESSION??????????

    GOP=delusional.

    September 26, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain: Mittens' 47% ... Veterans, grandma and the disabled are all moochers!

    The sign says, "Give Me Liberty, Not Debt."

    Where were these yahoos when GW Bush took us into two unfunded wars, unfunded tax cuts and unfunded Medicare Part D?

    By their own definition, they should be strong Democratic candidate supporters, given that President Clinton left office with a surplus and President Obama has grown the government at the slowest rate since Eisenhower?

    My source: The Wall Street Journal, May 22, 2012: "Government spending under Obama, including his signature stimulus bill, is rising at a 1.4% annualized pace – slower than at any time in nearly 60 years."

    September 26, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. ThinkAgain: Mittens' 47% ... Veterans, grandma and the disabled are all moochers!

    @Rick McDaniel: "This may come to as a shock to CNN, but not all blacks feel that the world owes them a living, and not all blacks are beholden to the Democratic Party for welfare hand outs."

    This may come as a shock to you, Rick, but not all Democrats feel like the world owes then a living, nor are they looking for a handout.

    BTW, what's your feeling about oil industry subsidies and other corporate welfare? Shouldn't those industries NOT accept federal money, especially given they are enjoying record profits? And what about the tax code that allows Mittens to write off as a "business expense" $70,000 for his wife's horse?

    September 26, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. Wilson

    @truth hurts–spot on! And the comments from the obvious "people of color," on here prove your point exactly. And they wonder why they continue to throw the victim (race) card and it isn't working any more.

    September 26, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  23. Name w.bullock

    Warning warning warning warning
    What happened about fraud check scam from afrcian amercian
    I said mocking out of presdient obama so why people are used fraud check scam from afrcian amercian
    Untied states amercian bank are still owe against afrcian amercian

    September 26, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. chilly g

    Hello im a black american not african american because i never been to africa neither has my parents.
    mitt will never winn my vote because he believe i was cures by god becuase that what mormon believe
    but my god is jesus and he love me.theses type of groups are hatrful toward black americans and
    other minorites. now you want our vote, if we vote for mitt we deserve what we will get .

    September 26, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. truth hurts

    The Democrat Party has been brainwashing the black community for decades. Teaching victimhood and using the race card to scare minorities just like they scare the old folk about medicare and social security. It is all about the hand out, not the hand UP. As a result, the black community has a terminal case of Stockholm Syndrome. You can see them doing the very same thing all over again with the hispanic community. The Democrat Party despises the melting pot concept as it really mucks up their divide and conquer class warfare strategy.

    September 26, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
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