The 2020 Republican National Convention kicked off on Monday with President Donald Trump aiming to galvanize support for his re-election campaign.
After Democrats executed a successful, virtual convention last week, Republicans have co-opted similar tactics. The Trump-focused RNC tapped Black speakers for endorsements and credibility, following the DNC’s programming that was intent on bringing diverse voices to speak on issues important to their voting block like police brutality and policy reform.
In a night highlighted by Sen. Tim Scott’s keynote address, former NFL running back Herschel Walker and Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones, a Democrat, joined a contingent of Black influencers who gave remarks supporting Trump and his presidency.
Here is what Black Trump advocates said about him and his campaign at the RNC Monday:
Former NFL Star Defends Friendship With Trump, Says He's Not A Racist
Walker, a three-time All-American at the University of Georgia during the ‘80s, defended his relationship with the president and sided with Trump on athletes not protesting during the national anthem.
“Just because someone loves and respects the flag, our National Anthem, and our country doesn’t mean they don’t care about social justice. I care about all of those things, and so does Donald Trump,” Walker said. “He shows how much he cares about social justice and the Black community through his actions. And his actions speak louder than any stickers or slogans on a jersey.”
After his speech, Walker told Fox News that Trump's words are often misunderstood by the masses and people would connect better with him if they prioritized his actions.
"I don't think people really know Donald Trump. I think they look at Donald Trump from a tweet or look at from what he says, and they're not looking at what he does," Walker said.
Walker said he built a close relationship with Trump when the president purchased the New Jersey Generals of the United States Football League in 1984. The former pro athlete said player said it hurts him deeply when people accuse the president of being a bigot.
“People who think that don’t know what they are talking about. Growing up in the Deep South, I have seen racism up close. I know what it is. And it isn’t Donald Trump,” Walker said.
Rep. Jones Attacks Own Party For Pandering To Black People
From the stage at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., Rep. Jones accused fellow Democrats of cultivating a “mental plantation” among Black voters and doubled down on his support of Trump’s campaign.
“The Democratic Party does not want Black people to leave their mental plantation,” Jones said. “We are free people with free minds.”
He also said Democrats have been pandering to the Black community, instead of implementing policy and law to advance their quality of life. He argued that, unlike Trump, Democrats want to defund the police and have been supporting violent protest behavior.
“The Democratic Party has become infected with the pandemic of intolerance, bigotry, socialism, anti-law enforcement bias and a dangerous tolerance for people who attack others, destroy property and terrorize our own communities,” he said.
Jones got his start in politics running for the state House in 1990, according to The Atlanta Journal Constitution. In 2008, President Barack Obama called him out for appropriating his image on a campaign flyer Obama didn't approve.
"I do not endorse him; I have not endorsed him," Obama told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He put my picture on his literature without asking me."
Since then, Jones' career has been mired in controversy, and he recently made noise on both sides of the table for going against party allegiances in endorsing Trump.
Black Republican Congressional Candidate Says Democrats Take Black Vote For Granted
Kim Klacik, a Republican candidate running for office in Maryland's 7th Congressional district, attacked Joe Biden and his party for their public relations gaffs in relation to the Black community.
“Joe Biden believes we can't think for ourselves, that the color of someone's skin dictates their political views," Klacik said in the segment streamed from Charlotte Monday. "We're not buying the lies anymore, you and your party have ignored us for too long."
She warned Black voters are growing frustrated with Democrats and "the days of blindly supporting" them are ending.