Meet a rising GOP star

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 20, 2014

In January of 2013 T.W. Shannon established two milestones. He became the first black speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. And, at the age of 34, he became Oklahoma’s youngest House speaker in history.
Also noteworthy is that this young black American is a Republican.
Now T.W. Shannon is making new headlines. He has stepped down from his position as House speaker to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Tom Coburn.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has just joined Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Dr. Ben Carson and Sarah Palin in endorsing Shannon.
Should Shannon succeed — there are several Republicans in contention in the primary — he would become the second sitting black U.S. senator, joining S.C. Republican Tim Scott.
I met this brilliant young conservative several years ago and it is hard for me to contain my enthusiasm for his candidacy. The prospect of a new, courageous, and unapologetic conservative in the U.S. Senate is most appealing.
But I am also happy to see another black conservative voice joining the ranks of political power in America.
Shannon was my guest last year when, as guest host on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze show, I convened a panel of black conservatives. He discussed the influences in his life — then Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts and his Southern Baptist religion — and his rise to the Speaker position in the Oklahoma legislature.
It can’t be summed up more clearly than the quote he has put on his campaign website:
“I believe we must choose the path to faith, freedom and individual liberty. It starts with us, here today, now. Working together, with God’s favor, we can save the America that we love.”
Conventional wisdom that black liberalism is somehow natural and genetic needs to be disabused and, as more black conservatives like T.W. Shannon come on the scene and win elections, the many black conservatives around the country will feel more comfortable stepping forth and taking public stands for what they believe.
America will see that the incidence of black conservatism is far deeper and more widespread than most believe.
In a survey last October by the Pew Research Center on public opinion about the Tea Party, 25 percent of blacks said they have a favorable view about the Tea Party movement, just 6 points less than the percentage of whites saying they have a favorable view.
Blacks, despite their disproportionate voting patterns supporting Democrats, do not fit the Democrat profile.
A Gallup poll done in 2011 showed that whereas only 28 percent of white voters and 45 percent of Hispanic voters who say they are “very religious” identify as Democrats, 80 percent of black voters who say they are “very religious” do.
Many blacks who harbor conservative values are intimidated to step forth because of the concentration of political power in their communities among liberal Democrats. This will change as more strong conservatives like T.W. Shannon step forth.
Shannon’s traditional Christian values will ring true with church going blacks and with all Americans who understand that personal virtue and responsibility and strong families form the basis of a free society.
And that wealth comes from ownership and entrepreneurship and not from government programs.
Parker is president of CURE, Center for Urban Renewal and Education. Contact her at