The 13 Most Influential Black Conservatives in America
Condi, Colin, “the Herminator" aren't the only conservatives of color
Thanks to a number of winning debate performances the “Herminator” (aka Herman Cain) has recently become of the most popular Republicans in America and most popular black Republicans in recent memory. But the blow back he faced from some conservatives for criticizing Gov. Rick Perry for N-word-gate is a stark reminder that being black and Republican isn’t exactly easy. Below a look at others, who like Cain, have decided that conservative causes are worth the fight politically, and in some cases, personally.
Herman Cain – Presidential Candidate
Cain’s surprising surge during the 2012 GOP primary has made a once unthinkable possibility plausible: we could see a presidential election with the first match-up between two black nominees from the two major parties. Regardless of what happens in 2012, Cain has already served as president once before. The multimillionaire was President and Chairman of Godfather’s Pizza before beginning his career in media and politics.
Sheryl Underwood – Comedian
Recognized for her ability to make audiences laugh during her standup appearances and while providing commentary on programs like “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” and “The Talk” (which she recently joined as a guest host), Underwood is also a former member of the U.S. armed forces and a proud Republican.
Justice Clarence Thomas – Supreme Court Justice
Though he has spent much of his life in the public eye being at times shunned and at others ignored altogether by the black community, Thomas’s controversial persona doesn’t change one key fact. As the only African-American member of the highest court in the land, he is one of the most powerful black men in the country, second only to President Obama. He was appointed to fill the seat left vacant by Civil Rights icon, (and the court’s first black justice) Thurgood Marshall by the first President Bush, after serving the Reagan administration as Chairperson of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Amy Holmes – Political Commentator
Though best known for her appearances as part of CNN’s political contributor team during the 2008 election, Holmes has been the most visible conservative pundit of color for more than a decade, appearing on the networks MSNBC, FOX and BET throughout her career before recently landing at Glenn Beck’s online network, GBTV. The Princeton grad is not your typical conservative, however, on certain issues. A self-described independent conservative, she defines herself as pro-choice.
Ken Blackwell – Conservative activist and former politician
The former Mayor of Cincinnati and Secretary of State for Ohio, Blackwell is currently Vice Chairman of the Republican National Committee’s Platform Committee and a senior fellow for family empowerment at the conservative powerhouse Family Research Council.
Jennifer Carroll – Lieutenant Governor of Florida
In 2011 after years of serving in the state’s House of Representatives, Carroll became Florida’s first black and first female Lieutenant Governor. Widely considered a rising star of the GOP, she is not the only celebrity in her family. Her son Nolan plays for the Miami Dolphins.
Tim Scott – Congressman, South Carolina
With his election to the city council in the 1990’s Scott became the first black Republican elected official in South Carolina since the period of Reconstruction following the Civil War. He was elected to Congress during the Republican gains of the 2010 midterms (handily defeating infamous segregationist Strom Thurmond’s son in a primary) and is considered a possible contender for the Governor’s mansion or the U.S. Senate in the future.
Alan Keyes – Former Ambassador and presidential candidate
Appointed ambassador to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations during the Reagan administration, Keyes will likely be best remembered for his many campaigns for office, and his many losses. Keyes ran for president in 1996, 2000 and 2008. But his most memorable run for office will likely be his 2004 campaign for the U.S. Senate, when as the GOP nominee he was defeated by a little known State Senator by the name of Barack Obama.
Colin Powell – Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The first black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first black Secretary of State and first black National Security Advisor, for years many presumed that General Colin Powell would add another first to his resume: first black President. Though that never came to fruition, Powell, a registered Republican and decorated war hero did end up endorsing the first black President during the 2008 election, even though then Sen. Barack Obama is a Democrat.
Condoleezza Rice – Former Secretary of State
Another history maker, Rice became America’s first female National Security Advisor and first black female Secretary of State, both during the administration of President George W. Bush. Like Powell, speculation abounds regarding whether she will make history again on a Republican ticket one day. Rice, who was raised in the segregated South, (and whose childhood friend was killed in the infamous Birmingham church bombing) was a Democrat until the early 80’s when her concerns about foreign policy inspired her to switch to the party of her parents, who were lifelong Republicans.
Michelle Bernard – Political Commentator
A registered Independent, Bernard has been known to tilt conservative on issues related to the military and defense. A regular presence on MSNBC throughout the 2008 election, she is the former president of the conservative think tank, Independent Women’s Forum and current president of the Bernard Center.
Allen West – Congressman, Florida
Also elected during the 2010 midterms elections, West has become one of the most visible and controversial members of the 2011 freshman class, and the GOP, thanks to his fondness for colorful sound bites. A former serviceman, he is credited with championing the conservative foreign policy agenda.