CPAC is the largest and most prominent annual event for the conservative movement. Every year, the conference attracts more than 10,000 attendees and the biggest names in the Republican Party.
The gathering draws speakers from every facet of the activist movement. The speakers include media darlings such as Sarah Palin and Donald Trump; congressional leaders such as U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; business leaders such as ACU Board Member Carly Fiorina; and leading activists such as National Rifle Association CEO, Wayne LaPierre and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly.
There will even be a reunion of sorts, as 2012 presidential candidates Mitt Romney, U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann, former Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum are scheduled to be speakers.
For those of you who do not believe that black conservatives exist, CPAC has assembled a stunning array of speakers from the African-American community. If you are an African American (and even if you are not), you may want to tune in and listen to these speakers.
1. Dr. Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital
This will be the most anticipated speech of the convention. Carson made headlines when he was the keynote speaker at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast. PolicyMic pundit John Giokaris described it as “the longest 27 minutes in Obama’s presidency.” Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said “Dr. Ben Carson represents the optimism and hope of the future of the conservative movement, while at the same time he articulates the deep fiscal and social challenges that our nation faces.”
2. Crystal Wright, editor and publisher, conservativeblackchick.com
Wright describes herself as a triple minority: “[she’s] black, a woman and a Republican living in a Democratic dominated city.” Wright is a communications consultant and through her blog and other media appearances gives voice to black female conservatives. Wright is a leading voice for black female conservatives and writes frequently on conservative issues. Her articles appear regularly on Townhall.com, and she is a PolicyMic pundit.
3. Mia Love, mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah
The Haitian-American mormon burst onto the national scene last year when she gave a very well received speech at the Republican National Convention. The National Journal named her one of ten Republicans to follow on Twitter. In 2012, she received endorsements from Romney, Cantor, Ryan, and Speaker of the House John Boehner. Last year she lost a tightly contested congressional race in Utah.
If she had won she would have become the first African American Republican woman in Congress. Love lost by a little over 1% of the vote. Love will be a showcase speaker focusing on young conservative leaders. Love has said her goal is to “remind everyone that the GOP was originally formed to end slavery. [and] … we're trying to end slavery from the federal government."
4. Francesca Chambers, editor, Red Alert Politics
Red Alert Politics is “an online publication written by and for young conservatives” and a product of the same group that owns the Washington Examiner and The Weekly Standard. Chambers is the editor and leads a team focused on the conservative movement. Chambers has amassed an extensive and impressive resume as a leader in the conservative movement.
She is a “veteran of several political campaigns and political organizations and has also worked in new media and communications.” She has spoken at many conservative and libertarian events including The Leadership Institute, Cato Institute, and Americans for Prosperity's "Defending the American Dream Summit." Chambers was named to the District of Columbia’s Republican Committee "35 Under 35” list honoring some of the most influential young conservatives in the country.
5. Chelsi Henry, outreach chair, Young Republican National Federation
“Henry [was] the youngest of the 50 delegates representing Florida at the 2012 GOP convention, and at 24 [was] one of the youngest of the 2,286 total delegates.” BET.com recognized her as one of “ten Republicans to watch.”
Henry is the first Republican in her family and considers Dr. Condoleezza Rice to be her role model. She has appeared in magazines such as Glamour and Seventeen and “holds a seat on Duval County’s Soil and Water Conservation District, to which she was elected fresh out of undergrad in 2010.” “Chelsi serves as the Chief of Staff for the National Assembly of Black Republicans and the Florida Assembly of Black Republicans, both chartered by the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Florida.” Henry’s goal is to ensure “minority Republicans are represented on the ballot and throughout conservative leadership.”
Henry lends her voice, shares her background and values and provides outreach strategies for groups looking to expand their message to the minority communities. Henry particularly enjoys taking the conservative message to historically black colleges and universities.
6. Sonnie Johnson, founder, “Did She Say That”/Breitbart News Network
Johnson’s Breitbart.com bio states she is “a dynamic and inspirational national speaker, Tea Party Activist, and political commentator.” Her blog is a testament to conservative ideals of “economic independence, individual responsibility, limited government, and cultural commonality.” She has appeared in the political documentaries Undefeated about Sarah Palin and Fire From the Heartland about the rise and role of conservative women. Johnson self describes as “a strong black woman who loves words.”
The Tea Party activist has a strong message to the black community. In her autobiographical/profile poem, Johnson expounds “To think racism could stop me, I find absurd. We need to stop the excuses. And start en-acting verbs: GET a job, BUY a house, TEACH your children, INVEST in your future, CLEAN out our neighborhoods, VOTE our principles.”
7. Artur Davis, former U.S. Representative
Davis is “young, Southern, African American and has turned hard against Barack Obama after being an early supporter in 2008,” says Politico. At the 2012 RNC, he supported Mitt Romney, gave a rousing speech, and drew glowing support when he said, “America is the land of second chances, and I gather in this close race you have room for the estimated six million of us who got it wrong in 2008.”
Davis was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against Obamacare in 2009 and 2010. Since 2012 Davis has been a vocal critic of Obama saying he ran a divisive campaign and that he was “left disillusioned by his failures as a president.” Davis was not just any ordinary Obama supporter, he was the national co-chair and gave one of the nominating speeches at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Politico called Davis the “poster-child of party switching.” He is renowned for his oratorical skills and combined with his willingness to speak out against Obama makes him a highly sought after speaker in conservative circles. It is guaranteed that this will be one of the best speeches of the event.
8. Tim Scott, U.S. Senator, South Carolina
Scott is the first African-American senator from the south since reconstruction. He has true Tea Party and conservative credentials. In an interview with Greta Van Susteren Scott expounded on the virtues of conservatism. “I think about the fact that here I am sitting here, having this conversation with you, a kid growing up in a single-parent household, a mom who believed in a future that I could not see, a mentor that came along and taught me very simple business principles. And it works! It works! If we were to unleash free markets throughout this country, if we would address the antiquated system that we have on taxation, if we would lower our corporate taxes, we'd see prosperity in this nation in a way that we haven't seen in a long time!”
9. T.W. Shannon, Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives
“Shannon was sworn in as Oklahoma’s Speaker of the House on January 8, 2013. He is the youngest speaker in the state’s history and is the first African American Republican to be a state House speaker in the United States since Reconstruction.” He will be part of the group representing elected officials considered to be “rising stars” in the conservative movement. Shannon was excited to be asked to participate seeing it as an opportunity to “highlight the conservative pro-growth agenda [they're] pursuing in the Oklahoma Legislature this year.” Shannon is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation.
10. Allen West, former U.S. Representative
Allen West needs no introduction. The firebrand war hero and Tea Party favorite lost his reelection bid after some questionable activity that bordered on voter tampering and fraud in his Florida district. West is noted for using slave imagery in his rhetoric, generating media frenzy, and delivering headline making quote. West is famous for his fiery rhetoric, including saying that the Democratic Party in Congress was filled with Communists, likening himself to Harriet Tubman and accusing black people of being enslaved on the modern-day Democratic plantation.
11. Wayne Dupree
Wayne Dupree will also be speaking on Saturday morning on the following panel: Technology Group Think: "Who's Needed, What's Needed and What's Next." His website is Newsninja2012.com He has been on national radio shows such as Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. His website has amassed over 2M unique visits since it started operations in May 2012. The website was launched with the encouragement and support of the late Andrew Breitbart. Dupree has a strong following. His Twitter account has over 25K followers, his YouTube channel is moving quickly to 3K with over 2M views and his Facebook account has over 5K “likes.”
The list of speakers is notable, deep and diverse but there are some high profile conservatives missing from the lineup. It has been well documented that CPAC has snubbed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie but the socially conservative conference has also not extended an invitation to libertarian Gary Johnson, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell or moderate Jon Huntsman Jr. It has also once again alienated the LGBTQ community by not inviting GOProud, while the Log Cabin Republicans have refused to participate at the conference. Libertarian conservative and MSNBC news pundit S.E. Cupp has declined an invitation to speak at the conference in support of GOProud.