Hoping to Make Inroads with Black Voters, GOP Opens Philly Community Center
Paris Dennard was among the Republican luminaries who attended a rally to open a new Republican National Committee (RNC) Community Center in Philadelphia’s Germantown section.
The center, which opened last week, is one of three new RNC community centers around the country, part of the party’s outreach to minority community voters. It will house ward leader meetings, social events, community gatherings, and voter registration drives. At the opening, the late Daphne Gibbons, a Philadelphia ward leader, was recognized with a plaque presented to her sons and grandson.
Dennard, a GOP strategist, commentator, and writer, is currently RNC director of Black media affairs.
Asked by the Delaware Valley Journal about Democrat politicians who seem to believe they can use the name “Trump” and claim Republicans are for voter suppression to win this fall, Dennard cited Republican wins last November in Virginia.
“How they tried to insert President Trump’s name as a negative factor, and it backfired,” said Dennard. “And you have Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who won with 13 percent of the Black vote, and Winsome Sears become the first Black immigrant, as well as veteran (and) Black woman, to become lieutenant governor, winning 17 percent of the Black vote.
“In places like Georgia, they tried to lie about the laws, saying that you can’t get food and drink in lines,” Dennard said. “They said things that were just absolutely not true, which led to Georgia losing $100 million in revenue when they removed the (2021) All-Star game from there. I think the Black community is smart enough to understand what these laws are doing and differentiate between the tried and true liberal rhetoric of division and race-baiting versus the actuality of what Republicans are trying to do, which is to make it easier for people to vote and harder for people to cheat.”
Dennard worked in the White House for President George W. Bush.
“It was the great honor of a lifetime,” he said. “I was 24 years old and right out of college. And being there at so many historical moments in a Republican administration was truly humbling and something I’ll never forget.”
The Republican Party has welcomed him and is inclusive, he said.
“I’m living proof of the inclusivity of our party,” said Dennard. And he said more than 80 Black Republicans are running for Congress this election cycle.
Philadelphia ward leaders, candidates and public officials, as well as community members, packed the new RNC Community Center on Wayne Avenue, listening to speakers, then enjoying a dinner that featured fried chicken and cornbread.
“This office is just a first step. It is a step that will be critical and important,” said Pennsylvania GOP Chairman Lawrence Tabas.
All Republicans “need to begin a listening tour so that we can start to work together and build a partnership. And I don’t mean just when the cameras are rolling. I don’t mean just during an election cycle like this. I mean, all throughout the year…the ideas and the programs and policies that you can talk to us about so we can put them into action will be critical.”
Calvin Tucker, deputy chairman of the Pennsylvania GOP, said, “We’re standing here in the heart of Germantown. We are steeped with history and culture. I just want to go back to 1688 in our community, here in Germantown. The Germantown members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), they were the first group in this nation to stand against slavery. That’s an investment they made at that point, in human nature. Today the RNC, the Pennsylvania GOP, and the Philly GOP are making an additional investment in who we are because it’s important.”
While we had record low unemployment for everyone, including African Americans, under President Trump, now there is ‘Bidenflation.’ We have invasions. We long for those days when we had strength.”
State Rep. Martina White, chair of the Philly GOP, gave a rousing speech.
“We know what we’ve been through in these past 60 years of Democrat rule in the city of Philadelphia,” said White. “And while they may call it progress, I’ll tell you–” The crowd laughed. She told them it was important to talk to their friends and relatives about politics.
“Homicides are at historic highs in our city,” said White. “Criminals on our streets are stealing the lives of our youths and ripping away any comfort and safety for our families and business owners that they did at one time have in our neighborhoods. We believe in fully funding law enforcement so they can provide community policing. We want the district attorney to prosecute criminals who are breaking our laws and terrorizing our communities.”
She also touched on school choice so students can get a “quality education regardless of their Zip code,” saying Democrats are in the “pockets of the teachers’ unions.”
Dennard also spoke to the crowd, saying that besides the new community centers, the RNC made “a five-figure media buy” on Black news stations for Black History Month, honoring Black Republican elected officials.
RNC Co-Chair Tommy Hicks rallied the audience.
“We’ve all got to do our part to make sure the 21st century is the American 21st century,” said Hicks. “And unfortunately that is not a given. It’s clear that our nation is suffering under the failed leadership of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and the Squad who rules all of them.”
He added, “Inflation (at) 40-year highs, the price of everything from food, transportation to heating oil is going up. This is a hidden tax on the American people esp. affecting the middle class and lower-income Americans. You name it, it’s going up…And this sagging economy is a direct result of the Democrat Party, their failed policies are making life harder on all of us.”
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