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Op-Ed: Heritage Foundation’s Kay Coles James Represents America

By Autry J. Pruitt


“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” — Booker T. Washington

Kay Coles James has been tried and tested by fire.

At 71 years of age, there is little doubt that this African-American conservative woman has forgotten more than most of us could even dream of ever knowing.

In that same vein, Tucker Carlson’s work in journalism is admirable; he is one of my favorite hosts and I’ll continue to support his reporting.

However, the sideswipe which Mr. Carlson recently took at the Heritage Foundation and its president (Kay Coles James) was misrepresentative and disrespectful and lacked perspective.

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Born into a broken and impoverished household in the projects of Richmond, Virginia, Kay Coles James has achieved the American Dream.

Her bedrock principles of hard work, determination and faith have given her an illustrious career spanning decades. Kay Coles James enjoys a long list of achievements that many dream of but few achieve: This includes serving as Virginia secretary of Health and Human Resources and director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

Mrs. James founded the Gloucester Institute, an organization that trains and nurtures black conservative leaders. She has served with dozens of nonprofit organizations that deal with issues ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to poverty. And she is currently leading the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission.

Mrs. James, like all black conservatives, is used to slander from both the political left and the right — and even private companies.

Democrats lambast her as a sellout for supporting and crafting Republican policies, while detractors like Omarosa Manigault attempted to keep her from assisting the president’s agenda for black voters.

Corporations such as Google would rather shut down research into the ethics of artificial intelligence than permit Kay Coles James a voice to speak.

Mrs. James has been called a bigot, misogynist, homophobe and an agent of white supremacy. Amazingly, she stands in the midst of the shade thrown her way with grace and positivity, continually reinforcing the fact that her strong faith in God is the anchor that motivates her to keep fighting.

Tucker Carlson’s call that donations to the Heritage Foundation should cease is dangerous and off the mark. Heritage is the leading institution for conservative research and policy guidance in the country.

At a time when academia is washed with left-wing nut jobs, defunding Heritage is almost as stupid as defunding the police.

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During his program, Carlson falsely claimed that Mrs. James had “denounced America as an irredeemably racist nation.” He continued to mislead viewers by inferring that she was blaming Americans for the current state of destruction caused by violent rioters.

That is not what Mrs. James said or implied. Her article on the Fox News website pointed out that racism and division in the United States should be something all Americans, regardless of race, fight against. Her comments encouraged readers to recognize their part—that they can make a difference.

Carlson has a right and a duty as an independent news anchor to speak truth to power. But there is an equal right and duty, especially during a sensitive national moment, to get the facts right.

Doesn’t Kay Coles James, given her history of supporting America, deserve an accurate reading of her words? And if those words had two interpretations, has she not earned the right to secure the more favorable interpretation?

The hallmark of true intellectualism is holding two contrary thoughts at the same time. You can believe that racism is a problem that needs to be tackling while also recognizing that America is the greatest nation on earth and one that shouldn’t be subject to looting and rioting.

Mrs. James loves America. She was selected to lead Heritage because of that love and her passion for training the next generation of leaders. Tucker Carlson should be praying for more leaders just like her. Without her, you will get more AOCs.

Ironically, this #GeorgeFloyd moment has been the catalyst for a new era in the black conservative movement.

We at New Journey are committed to using the inspiring stories of black Republican leaders like Mrs. James to reach black voters. Although we have respect for and enjoy media figures such as Mr. Carlson, we will no longer allow our own to be thrown under the bus.

The black conservative movement’s goal is to reach black voters who are looking for an option other than the Democratic Party, but strain to hear the conservative message in a way that shows empathy and shared values.

Black conservatives must combat the racially charged rhetoric of the liberal media with truth regarding the achievements of President Trump for the black community. We must work twice as hard to remind voters that, if he could break unemployment records in the past, he can do it again.

Black voters need to hear this truth, and they need to have an institution like Heritage and a leader like Kay Coles James.

We stand with Mrs. James in our shared mission to maintain freedom in America and secure another victory for President Trump in 2020.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.