by Max Brantley
The celebration honors laws passed by Republican elected officials that ended slavery to secure civil rights of Black Americans and also honors Trailblazers who have provided more than 20 years of service to the Republican Party.Winthrop Rockefeller made a concerted outreach to black Arkansans and in other ways supported civil rights. He was elected governor in 1966 and 1968. 1968, of course, was the year that Republican Richard Nixon's "southern Strategy" began peeling off Southern voters unhappy about civil rights from the Democratic Party. That movement took longer to reach Arkansas, but it came to full flower with a wholesale exodus of voters to Republican candidates after the election of a black man, Barack Obama, as president in 2008.
“On June 25, we will place emphasis on the history of African-Americans and the Republican Party. We are celebrating Juneteenth by educating Arkansans about the rich history of the Republican Party's position in African-American history and through this program, we are inviting them to “come home,” said Program Committee Chairperson, Patricia Nations. “History will bear witness that Republicans have taken great strides to pass laws that benefit African-Americans. This community event will also serve as a springboard to foster economic development and community involvement as a whole.”