Last week’s NAACP-fueled debate about racism in the tea party movement appears to have led to some fresh introspection among tea partiers. On July 31, several tea party groups will come together in Philadelphia for a “Uni-Tea Rally” featuring a host of African-American conservative voices. Though it wasn’t planned as a response to the NAACP flap, those behind it are happy to take on repairing the damage done to tea party outreach by Mark Williams recently.
Teri Adams, an organizer of the event, told me this afternoon that tea partiers have been planning the Philly rally for months, hoping to broaden the reach of the tea party movement. Though that’s already a potentially tough job, Adams told me it’s tougher now after Tea Party Express’ Mark Williams posted an anti-NAACP diatribe to his blog that many have labeled racist.
“He made it tougher,” Adams told me today. “[The blog post] was a satire and he probably doesn’t mean what he said, but if we’re trying to reach out to a particular group of people we probably don’t want to be mocking them.”
Adams said national tea party groups like the Tea Party Federation and the Tea Party Nation were “right” to distance themselves from Williams today. She said she hoped the rally will help to put the NAACP flap behind them.
Nine African-American conservatives are scheduled to appear at the July 31 rally, which is co-sponsored by the Independence Hall Tea Party Association in Philadelphia and the
Uni-Tea organization. Emceeing the event will be David Webb, spokesperson for the Tea Party Federation.
“This was something that has been in the works for months,” Adams, who is president of the Independence Hall group, said. “It’s not a response to the charges by the NAACP.”
But “we recognize that we have to and want to reach out to minorities,” she added.
Adams told me the idea for the rally began months ago in the midst of charges of racism thrown at the tea party following some bigoted shenanigans during the health care debate. Adams said that then — as now — charges that the tea party is racist are false. But she said that it’s lucky her rally is happening now, after Williams’ post created a huge focus on racism in the tea party.
“Before Williams I think the NAACP was hard-pressed to find racist rhetoric the tea party organizations,” Adams said. “The tea party has gone to great extremes to reach out to people of color, let them know they’re welcome in our ranks.”