Black History Month is a time to reflect on the achievements and contributions of African American leaders that have inspired great change in our nation. Each week, we will honor national and local African American leaders who have made great contributions and continue to shape the diversity of the Republican Party.
Alexandra Beard is the Strategic Initiatives Coordinator at the Republican Party of Arkansas and works with all of the auxiliary groups associated with the party including the African American Coalition. She is a senior political science major at UALR and an active member with the UALR College Republicans.
Today we want to recognize Condoleezza Rice, who was the first African American woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State in President George W. Bush's administration. She also served as President Bush's National Security Adviser, making her the first woman to hold the position.
It was uncommon for an African American to be known as a great orator during the 19th century due of lack of access to education, but Frederick Douglass was a living example to slaveholder's arguments that African Americans lacked intelligence to act as independent and productive citizens. He was known as a great Republican orator, politician and abolitionist.
Not many Arkansans know that a former slave once was the chairman of the Republican Party. John Bush served as the first African American chairman of the Republican Party of Arkansas and also co-founded the Mosaic Templars of America, an international organization dedicated to aiding the African American community.
GOVERNOR WINTHROP ROCKEFELLER
Governor Winthrop Rockefeller dedicated his time as a public servant to defend social and civil rights for all Arkansans, including African Americans. As the first Republican governor since reconstruction, he was the first to appoint a number of qualified African Americans to state positions, during a time of increased tension surrounding the civil rights movement. Governor Rockefeller was also the only Southern governor to hold a memorial after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Most well known for her civil rights activism in Little Rock, Annie Abrams was instrumental in starting the annual Martin Luther King Parade and renaming streets in honor of prominent African American leaders. Annie Abrams has been recognized nationally for her community work and has received many awards including the Brooks Hays Award for Civil Champions and was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.
Colin Powell, a well known Republican and four-star retired general, was the first African American to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. He also served as National Security Advisor, Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
Often seen as one of the most influential educators of all time, Booker T. Washington was born into slavery but educated himself and rose to be a prominent educator, author, orator, and advisor to U.S. presidents.