The Republican Party of Arkansas plans an African-American “homecoming” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, the state’s museum of African-Americans.
There will be music, refreshments and remarks by Will Rockfeller, son of the late Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller and grandson of the former governor, Winthrop Rockefeller. Said a news release:
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.
“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.”
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.
A fair question for the “homecoming” discussions might be about what the Republican Party of today represents to African-Americans, starting with Donald Trump.
NOTE: The event is by invitation only, though open to press.