Trump campaign boosts its efforts to court Black voters

Paris Dennard was among the speakers at a Black Voters for Trump event at First Immanuel Baptist Church in North Philadelphia.
Photo credit Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Trump campaign held a grassroots roundtable discussion at a North Philadelphia church last week, with a goal to grow the President's percentage of the Black vote.

"Let me see what the president did for HBCUs. Let me see what he did for small business owners," said Paris Dennard, an advisor for the Black Voices for Trump coalition. He encouraged those in the crowd to do their research and to look at what President Donald Trump has done during his three years in office. 

"The things that he is doing are real, but the challenge for us is to break through the noise," he told the group.

Dennard was one of several African American national and regional leaders from the Trump Victory Leadership Initiative that led a discussion at First Immanuel Baptist Church on Ridge Avenue on Thursday.  Their goal was to convince Black voters to step up their support and come out in support of the Trump campaign.

Calvin Tucker is the Pennsylvania GOP's director of engagement and advancement. He organized the meeting and says African Americans supported Mr. Trump from the very beginning, just quietly.

"The media said there was zero support among African Americans," said Tucker. "I used to say we'd get 15% of the vote. Ultimately, we got 8% of African Americans."

Tucker believes Trump's support of HBCUs, criminal justice reform, deregulation of small businesses and low unemployment is very attractive to Black voters. He predicted that Trump's Black support is growing.

"We have been controlled by Democrats for over 70 years, our neighborhoods not no better," said Sheila Armstrong, a former Democrat who recently ran for Philadelphia City Council. She says she's now a Republican and plans to join the Trump campaign as a ground trooper.

"I'm going to be knocking on the door for Donald Trump now and just getting the info out to the community," she said, noting that low unemployment convinced her to switch parties.

"When I walked in here, I saw many different faces, many looked like me with different religious backgrounds. I was very impressed," said Robert Stewart, a self proclaimed "free thinker" who has been exploring whether to join the Trump campaign. He says it is hard for Black voters to openly support the President.

"I have been getting an onslaught of criticism from family and political people from different parts of the government calling Trump a racist," he shared. "It's been very hard for me to push through the noise, but I realize there are more Black Trump supporters than I thought."

Black Voices for Trump's Instagram page launched in November of last year and currently has more than 2,700 followers. Organizers say they are hoping to grow Trump support among Black voters in Pennsylvania with small information sessions in Philadelphia and around the region.  

According to a recent poll by the Washington Post, 8 in 10 Black voters are deeply pessimistic about America under Trump. But in December, both Emerson Polling and Rasmussen Reports had Black voter support at about 34%.