The College Republicans hosted a speaker last night that they termed “Jesse Jackson’s worst nightmare.”
Approximately 100 people heard prominent black conservative Shannon Reeves speak in Isla Vista’s Embarcadero Hall. Reeves is the secretary of the California Republican Party, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Oakland division and owner of two inner-city Chevron stations. He took over the Oakland NAACP in 1996 at the age of 27, making him the youngest leader in the division’s history. He spent much of his speech explaining how it was possible for him to be both a black man and a Republican.
Reeves said he became involved with the Republican Party because, “America is basically a two-party system.” Reeves suggested he had to choose one of the two in order to “play the game.”
While an undergraduate student at a Grambling State University he interned for Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign. Reeves said despite their different political parties, the two remain friends.
“I respect Jesse Jackson for making me believe for the first time that a black man may one day be president,” he said.
Reeves realized that he no longer wanted to associate with the Democratic Party after party leaders said that America wasn’t ready for a black president following Jackson’s unsuccessful campaign. He also realized he hadn’t chosen his political affiliations on his own.
“I was a Democrat because my mom was a Democrat,” he said.
After assessing of his beliefs, Reeves realized he hated liberalism.
“Liberals like to make poor people feel comfortable in their poverty,” he said.
Reeves, who attended a high school in Oakland that was 98 percent black, said it is his duty to give back to the community in which he grew up.
“In my party, I make it a priority to bring forward the issues facing my community. Some blacks don’t, and that doesn’t make them sellouts,” Reeves said. “They choose to participate in the party in a different way.”
Regarding the race issue in America, he said, “Some things in the black community, we have to take responsibility for and can’t blame on racism.” He stood strongly in his belief that society will never be colorblind.
His underlying advice to all attendees was, “Don’t get so deep in politics that you forget the people you’re supposed to serve.”
Following the speech Reeves received a standing ovation from the majority of students in attendance.
College Republican Jonathan Kalinski said that Reeves’ appearance reflects the organization’s desire to present the views of conservatives, who he said are in the minority at UCSB.
Sophomore political science and business economics major Courtney Schroeder said he disagrees with how Reeves handles racial issues, but feels that he is “bringing the issues facing the black community to an audience who otherwise would be uninformed.”
When asked if there was a place for black people in the Republican Party, Reeves said, “If not, they better get ready, because here I come.”