A longtime community activist speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday accused other Black activists of using “the race store” in dealing with lawmakers while touting Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
“I was on a program a couple of weeks ago, and I was challenged by [CNN contributor] David Gergen on, ‘Do you really believe that Republicans are friends to the poor?’” Center for Neighborhood Enterprise President Robert L. Woodson, Sr. explained. “I said, ‘Poor people are suffering from their friends in Detroit, where they have been led by liberal Black Democrats for 40 years, and it looks like Hiroshima did when it was bombed. Hiroshima looked like Detroit did 60 years ago.”
Though Detroit itself has had many Black Democratic mayors over the past four decades, Woodson did not mention that since 1965, the majority of Michigan state legislators and governors have been Republicans.
Woodson also said that the needs of Detroit’s lower-income residents were “ripe for outreach” by conservatives. He also said he had taken Ryan on a “quiet listening tour” around the country.
“He has been on his knees in a program in San Antonio and praying at the bed of a man coming off a 20-year heroin addiction, being treated and transformed through God’s grace by the thousands in there,” Woodson said. “He’s seen this first hand. And so, we need to stop patronizing. I said to Paul, ‘The moment I see you getting on a bus from Selma to Montgomery with [Rep.] John Lewis (D-GA), our relationship is over. We need to stop assuming that we’ve gotta walk through the race store in order to appeal to Blacks.”
Watch Woodson’s remarks, as posted online on Thursday, below.
David Edwards contributed to this report.