Last week, an unusual group of nine college interns serving on Capitol Hill returned home. What was so unusual? These were nine, inner-city black youths interning for Republican legislators.
The Conservatives of All Colors Internship Program is the brainchild and project of the Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives (RMBC), a small organization headquartered in Colorado that has worked on bridging the divide between conservatism and ethnic minorities since its founding in 2011.
The RMBC came up with the idea of sending young black men and women to intern with Republicans, thus allowing them to see for themselves what conservatives and conservatism were all about – without the filter of a corrupt news media or other third parties.
According to RMBC chairman and director (and regularly-contributing writer for AllenBWest.com) Derrick Wilburn, “Younger generations of minorities don’t have the same biases and preconceptions as those who lived through the civil rights struggles of the past. They are a much more open, persuadable group. If we impress the truth upon them now, it becomes the reality they grow up with. Thing is, someone has to actually do it. So the RMBC stepped up and made it happen.”
On June 3rd, these nine students from colleges and universities all across America showed up for work on Capitol Hill and interned for seven weeks:
Left to right, per the picture above:
> Hannah (University of Colorado/Colorado Springs), interned for Senator Cory Gardener (CO)
> Kendall (Grand Canyon University), interned for Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (WA)
> Catherine (Pikes Peak College), interned for Senator Cory Gardener (WI)
> Gregory (Florida A&M University), interned for Congressman Trey Gowdy (SC)
> Jamari (St. John’s University), interned for Congressman Pete Sessions (TX)
> Grant (University of Northern Colorado), interned for Congressman Ken Buck (CO)
“Our interns had a tremendous time,” Wilburn said. “They went on museum tours, visited the White House and the Capitol Dome, even had private meetings with key influencers such as Senator Tim Scott and others.’
“They learned about our system of self-governance, but even more importantly they came home thinking, ‘Republicans aren’t the haters I’ve been told they are.’ They came home with new friends and contacts that will last a lifetime.”
Wilburn recounted that three of the interns came home with job offers. “Consider the power of that! When they graduate, there’s a conservative legislator whose office will be waiting for them. Forty years from now, when they’re 61 years old, they’ll still have fond memories of the time they spent immersed among conservatives and how much fun they had. That imprint will last a lifetime.”
The entire program is privately funded, mostly by small contributions from conservative Americans – though Wilburn concedes he’s still working on paying off some the bills the program has incurred. “I wish we had a five million dollar endowment, but we don’t,” he admitted. “We purchased a block of dorm rooms at George Washington University for them to live in for the summer so that we could assure their moms and dads that their kids would have a place to sleep at night.”
In addition, these were paid internships; each of the interns was given $1,500 for their seven weeks in Washington. “Most of the population we’re dealing with didn’t have the option of not making any money for an entire summer. So we paid them.” Wilburn added that the program also paid for their airfare and transportation costs.
“I thought it was important we put together a first-class, professional program. That meant writing some checks. But it was worth it. We’ve forever changed nine individuals’ lives. Nine down, hundreds of thousands to go – but you’ve gotta start someplace.’
“We all remember the ‘Paul Ryan and interns’ selfie wars last year,” he added, “where Speaker Ryan tweeted a selfie of himself in front of the conservative interns and the liberals responded with a selfie of their own, more diverse group. That was the genesis. I took one look at that and said, ‘That needs to never happen again,’ and I got busy doing something about it. Nine isn’t a big number, but while we haven’t yet arrived, at least we’ve left the station.”
Wilburn says the goal is to double the size of each class until the program is consistently sending hundreds, even thousands, of students to Washington on an annual basis. “It’s time we do things differently,” he said.
Everyone knows the conservative movement in America must become more diverse, but few are doing anything about it. This internship program represents an important step forward. “How do we know we aren’t raising up the Tim Scotts, Mia Loves or Allen Wests of tomorrow?” Wilburn asked.
To learn more about the Conservatives of All Colors Internship Program or to contribute to the cause visit www.RMBlackConservatives.com and encourage your elected representatives to inquire about hosting an intern.