February 21, 2002 - The Daily Tar Heel: NC State Senator Henry McKoy appointed Director of Africa Region at US Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Special Reports: New Appointments at the Peace Corps [3/28/02]: February 21, 2002 - The Daily Tar Heel: NC State Senator Henry McKoy appointed Director of Africa Region at US Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) on Tuesday, April 09, 2002 - 12:34 pm: Edit Post

NC State Senator Henry McKoy appointed Director of Africa Region at US Peace Corps

Read and comment on this story from the February 11, 1999 issue of the Daily Tar Hell on Henry McKoy, member of the State Senate from North Carolina, who has been appointed Director the Africa Region at the US Peace Corps at:

More Blacks Finding Friends in Grand Old Party *

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

More Blacks Finding Friends in Grand Old Party

By Matt Dees Assistant State & National Editor

Henry McKoy could be described as a political Darwinist.

Elected in 1994 as the first black Republican to serve in the state Senate since Reconstruction, McKoy said he evolved from a liberal protester in Greensboro in the tumultuous 1960s to a Republican legislator in the 1990s.

McKoy said his role as a husband and father caused him to reconsider his values and his politics. "I see this simply as an evolution in my life," he said of his political rebirth.

"When I became a father, it caused me to look at the world very differently. My personal evolution led me here, not a disillusionment with the Democratic Party."

McKoy began his political career as the vice president of the student body at N.C. Agricultural & Technical State University in the mid-1960s, leading demonstrations at an institution that was a hotbed of civil rights activism.

He later became head of the N.C. Civil Rights Commission under Gov. Jim Hunt in the late 1970s and stayed on when Gov. Jim Martin, a Republican, took over in the 1980s. After serving in the Martin administration for nearly a decade as a Democrat, McKoy switched parties in 1989. And despite the rarity of his position as a black Republican, the political phenomenon is becoming both increasingly common and contentious. Thad Beyle, political science professor at UNC, said though the number of black Republicans was still relatively small, the conservative trend among blacks was slowly gaining momentum.

"The rule of thumb is that if blacks come out to vote, they vote 90 to 95 percent Democratic," Beyle said.

"But not too long ago that figure would have been 100 percent. There is some growing strength among conservative blacks who have moved up the socioeconomic ladder and have started voting Republican," he said. One example that illustrates the blurring of the line between blacks and Republicans came in Raleigh last month. The Black Caucus and House Republicans rallied behind a black candidate, Rep. Dan Blue, D-Wake, for the speaker position. He missed upsetting new speaker Rep. Jim Black, D-Mecklenburg, by one vote. This apparent bridging of the gap has also opened the door for black officials in the Republican Party.

Against the Grain

Those blacks who identify themselves with the GOP or those who hold conservative views have secured a unique place in American political culture.

U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., one of only two black Republican congressman on Capitol Hill, and others like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and conservative activist Ward Connerly, have been thrust into the national spotlight due to their unorthodox politics.But with the heightened media coverage came increased scrutiny, particularly from blacks, for black Republicans' seemingly contradictory views.

Beyle said black voters started leaning toward the Democrats during the Great Depression, rallying behind President Franklin D. Roosevelt's welfare programs. This support became steadfast following the presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, who both backed civil rights initiatives.

With this long-held support for Democrats among black voters, McKoy and Vernon Robinson, a black conservative alderman from Winston-Salem's South Ward, both said they received attacks that often became personal. "I've had people say that I've turned my back on my community," McKoy said. "But I have a clean conscience. I'm right with God, and I believe that I've got the respect of political leaders on both sides of the aisle."

Though both McKoy and Robinson downplayed the negative aspects of their positions, they said the reproachful comments were constant and ran the gamut of name-smearing tactics.

So with a political move that virtually guarantees personal attacks and scrutiny from fellow blacks and white Democrats, why would any black become a Republican?

Uncle Tom, Turncoat or Trailblazer?

What drives blacks to adopt rightist ideals, and what role do black Republicans play in a party whose politics blacks have traditionally opposed?

Mark Fleming, a spokesman for the N.C. Republican Party, said many black citizens identified with the GOP's adherence to family-oriented policy-making.

"Our family-friendly message has a great appeal to the African-American community," he said. "We also appeal to African Americans in business." McKoy cited these issues family values and economic independence as the factors that led him to his decision.

"The values that the Republican Party held was much like the values I held growing up," he said.

"The notion of the appeal to people for personal responsibility has a very powerful impact for me. There seems to be too much of a willingness to rely on the system to solve our problems."

McKoy said the efforts to improve living conditions for working-class blacks, which began in earnest in the late 1960s with President Johnson's Great Society, ended up impeding entrepreneurship in the black community. "I saw that the efforts to do good with government programs ended up replacing black power," he said.

"I found the conservative approach was to make whole those people in need. Instead of giving a person an extra $5 a month, the GOP thought helping to move them into a track where they could be self-sufficient was the ultimate form of compassion."

Robinson also cited similar qualms with Democratic dogma.

"As I was looking at what was offered by the mainstream Democratic community, I realized they were dismantling the family unit by supporting policies that make up the welfare state," he said.

"The Democratic party has a political dependence on poverty." But Ron Walters, a professor of government and politics at the Afro-American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, said this conservative notion was misguided.

"I think people have misjudged the impact of the government on black people," he said. "Certainly most people in the black community are self-sufficient, but they need the government to get them over the hump." Walters, who recently challenged Connerly's views on affirmative action in a public debate, said black politicians often had ulterior motives when making the leap to the right.

He said the Republican party supported blacks interested in seeking elected office on the GOP ticket, allowing them to rise through the ranks more rapidly than they would as Democrats."People who have chosen that political route have received uncommon access, such as financial support from the GOP," Walters said.

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By Markus Jenkins on Sunday, November 24, 2002 - 12:16 pm: Edit Post

Dear Editor:

It has been roughly a month since Harry Belafonte insulted the memories of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by using his name in an attempt to bolster his credibility in an effort to tear down Colin Powell, an impeccable Black American, on the Larry King show. Harry has not gained the courage to apologize to Gen. Powell for his misdeeds; therefore, I’m (being a Black resident of Cincinnati, and residing in a predominantly Black community) compelled to speak to Harry’s unfortunate conduct.

Harry appears to lead by poor example, attacking prominent Black Americans, without provocation. His weapon of choice is unfounded, non-issue bearing, irrelevant comments.

How can Harry associate economic apartheid with the desire of some residents of Over-the-Rhine to commit violent crimes against others? Blacks can’t open businesses in Over-the- Rhine because of the 80.9 percent probability of getting shot. Moreover, the likelihood of a Black business being destroyed by criminals posing as rioters, triggered by anything a White person my do (or is accused of doing) in the area is great.

Most people in Over-the Rhine aren’t bad. The problem is, we do nothing to protect them.

We allow the social deviants to blame White people for their transgressions against the residents trying to raise themselves up by their bootstraps. I know, because I was one of those residing at the YMCA in the area, working hard to get back on my feet (literally and monetarily) after being injured in a military accident.

How do you solve some of Cincinnati’s problems? Let me give you my take on this subject.

First, you expel the over educated corrupt Blacks that victimize and use the poor and undereducated to achieve ill-gotten gains. These individuals perpetuate Over-the-Rhine’s problems by infusing an ideology of racial hatred that excuses antisocial behavior and criminal acts against their fellow residents. Second, you engage the core issues of the neighborhood; little if any respect for each other or their property, irresponsible family planning, lack of parenting, lack of education, high crime, and the expectation of using resources to maintain a life style not (legally) earned. Consequently, according to Over-the-Rhine’s street protocol, a criminal is only a criminal until the police arrive, then he’s a brother being oppressed.

Some Blacks grasping for tangible reasoning, tend to blame antisocial behavior on our ancestors’ plantation life. Our ancestors could not go to school legally, yet they risked life and limb to obtain an education. Now their Over-the-Rhine decedents are skipping school and being suspended for behavioral infractions against one another and their teachers. I see no White men pushing them out of the school doors. But, I do see them ducking and hiding from police, Black and White. In fact, if you pull into one of the area’s gas stations, some of these same juveniles may pop out asking to pump your gas.

Having mentally raped the young Black men and women of this low-income community, race and poverty pimps along with their non-profit allies need to be admonished, then vanquished from the community by hard working Black Americans. If we do nothing, Black Cincinnatians can look forward to some of these young victims of a weak Black ideology joining the criminal ranks. If we do nothing, we will only need to wait a short time before these young urbanites victimize us, or even worse, our children.

Should hard working Blacks accept or allow their kids to be ridiculed because they know if they are found skipping school, that there would be hell to pay? A “time out” in the hard working Black house holds that I know of, is the time needed to rest before issuing “tough love” to the second child, if two or more were involved in something stupid. Why should our children be ostracized, because their parents spend time teaching them what they may not have learned in school?

Proactive Black parents must be stern and keep their children focused because weak Blacks have numerous ready-made excuses for failure. One favorite misguided excuse being, a lack of African studies in the public school system. The essence of my family’s existence is not based on Africa; it’s based on us being Descendents of American Slaves. We further ground ourselves in reality by expressing to the kids that Africans were just as involved in slavery as Europeans. In fact, if larger African tribes had not done the dirty work, slavery would not have been so lucrative, leading to western proliferation. I personally do not feel that most teachers could teach my history, with the same passion as I... Moreover, I continuously convey to youth in my family that they would be horribly dishonoring their ancestors by misusing freedom that was earned under the most extreme conditions.

Black Cincinnatians are allowing Harry Belafonte to say to the world, that Over-the-Rhine is a true example of Black America? I know in Cincinnati, Over-the-Rhine is the oasis needed by a few Black people who want to commit, and then be excused from antisocial behavior and poor parenting, compounded by an extreme lack of constructive motivation.

What’s disheartening about this whole situation is the fact that you have an ex-calypso singer taking shots at Colin Powell, a man that once commanded the greatest military in the world. Incidentally, if Harry took the time to observe Mr. Powell instead of looking for a prominent Black male to attack, he would see that Colin Powell’s the personification of what he and his “social pimping” friends state Black men would be, if White people give them enough money. By now you would think Harry knew nothing was free. Perhaps, the price being extracted from us is not his concern.

In his infinite wisdom, I can’t see the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanting his name used to prop up one Black man’s attack against another. Each time I read the great Dr. King’s writings, I get the feeling that he wanted us all to do our part in making this country a better place. I ask, what good came from Harry Belafonte’s divisive attack? The bad is obvious.

It appears that daylight has never come for the old calypso singer. His vision impaired socially and morally by a self-serving agenda, fueled by initiating intra-racial strife.

This is just one proud American’s opinion.

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