The conservative civil rights group Congress of Racial Equality is planning a national convention in Orlando this June, highlighted in a Republican Party of Florida forum seeking ways to attract more minority members.

CORE has what the Republican Party of Florida wants, a large constituency not just of conservative blacks, but also Asians, Hispanics, and other minority groups.

As the RPOF held a series of workshops Friday afternoon at its annual meeting in Orlando, the focus has been on expanding the party’s base by reaching out to particular groups. The workshops focused on women, veterans, millennials, seniors, faith-based groups and others, but the party’s big challenge remains to reach out to blacks and other minorities.

With that, the message from guest speaker Niger Innis, conservative activist, MSNBC commentator and spokesman for CORE, was that Republicans have to start by simply showing up at minority events and in minority neighborhoods.

“You all know this from reaching out to minorities, in particular from the black community: if you walk up and say, ‘Hi, I’m from the Republican Party,’ you’re lucky enough to not get the door slammed in your face,” Innis said.

But one reason Republicans are not welcome sometimes, he said, is because they have not been showing up enough, or getting the word out enough after they do show up. Familiarity builds trust, he said.

Sharon Day, co-chair of the Republican National Committee and an RNC committeewoman from the RPOF, urged the same thing.

“Go knock on someone’s door or attend their church and talk to them about why, why you are a Republican, why you believe in our positions and our values, if you’re not willing to do that, why would they vote for us?” she said.

Innis then said that CORE Florida was planning a national convention that would bring thousands of conservative black attendees, as well as Asians, Hispanics and others. Though CORE is officially nonpartisan, that planning is being done by some people within the RPOF, including Thuy Lowe, a Vietnamese-American from Lake County, who’s running for Congress as a Republican from Florida’s Congressional District 5.

Lowe said the CORE convention will possibly be June 19-21, either in Orlando or Osceola County. Among other things, she said CORE was looking to bring in conservative, minority celebrities to attract attention.

“I think the Democrats have done more than a good job of pulling in … movie stars and celebrities. For us to reach out to the minority population we need to start thinking like they do, by bringing celebrities into the community so people can get excitement about why it is important to vote conservative,” Lowe said. “If you look at the black community, if you look at the Asian community, at the Latino community, we all have the same basic principals and values, faith, family and freedom.”

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@flordiapolitics.com or scottmichaelpowers@yahoo.com.

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