A meme featuring American Conservatives of Color President Casper Stockham reads: “Your Poverty or Wealth is based upon 4 things: How you Think; How you Act; How you Vote; How you Pray.”
Perhaps he’s worried that his organization’s thinking, acting, voting and praying hasn’t been going too well this year. Yesterday, he announced that ACOC will change its plans and not hold its annual June Day of Freedom event in Denver nor participate in Denver’s Juneteenth festivities. As Stockham tells it, there’s just not enough money in the bank for ACOC to take part in those events and to attend to the annual Western Conservative Summit, the largest gathering of conservatives in the country, which will take place in Denver in late June.
“It saddens me more than you know,” Stockham wrote his supporters in an email.
The cancellations mark a shift for an organization that has preached the gospel of face-to-face outreach to minority communities and nationally touted its involvement with Juneteenth.
“Why on earth would you ever not be here,” asked vice-president of Colorado’s GOP Derrick Wilburn in a promo video for last year’s American Conservatives of Color Juneteenth outreach. Thousands attend each year and Democrats and liberals come out in full force to Juneteenth, Wilburn said. Being involved with the event is part of the group’s strategy to promote its views about limited government outside the traditional Republican base.
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“We’re saying to our brothers and sisters of color, ‘Look, conservatism isn’t the enemy. Conservatives are not racists. Conservatives do not want to secretly eat your children. All the things we’ve been told our entire lives, none of it’s true,'” Wilburn said.
“We’ve got to break out of this mold of being Republicans who show up at Republican events that are put on by Republicans and that feature Republicans talking to Republicans about being Republicans,” he added. “That’s not getting it done. What we need to do is get into the community and begin developing name and face recognition.”
While ACOC won’t have a presence at the event, the Denver Republican Party will. In fact, its website features Juneteenth as the Party’s next big event in Denver.
Photo credit: Screen capture from American Conservatives of Color’s Juneteenth video.