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Trump rallies: Why Black voters back the president

Lee Eric Smith Special from NNPA | 11/1/2018, midnight

For Michael Stewart, also from Memphis, the choice to register as a Republican was pretty simple – and pretty straightforward.

“Democrats weren’t representing my values the way I wanted them to,” Stewart said. “They’re for gay marriage, open border immigration, taking away gun rights . . . and I don’t support none of that. So Republicans lined up with my values a little bit more.”

I spoke with Rev. Manuel Donis, a pastor who joined the GOP in 2016 to support Ben Carson. When Carson’s bid ended, he switched.  As a preacher in the Bible Belt, Donis checks off the same boxes many other evangelical voters do.

“I believe in supporting Israel,” Donis said, wearing a MAGA hat and Trump T-shirt. “I also believe in Biblical marriage. And I’m pro-life.”

So what is it about Trump that he thinks most Black folk are missing?

“They need to come, pay attention and have an open mind,” Donis said. “We’ve been close-minded. We believe one way and we just stay that way. I began to do research and broaden my mind to see the things that have been holding the Black community back for years.

“It’s time for a change,” Donis said. “We’ve been in this place for so long, it’s time to move on and do something different.”

Donis thinks Trump is doing an “excellent job,” and believes that America’s booming economy will mean opportunity in the African American community – especially people with felony convictions.

“That’s one of the things I’m concerned about is trying to help these men when they get back into society, is that they have a fair chance,” said Donis, a prison chaplain. “So I believe President Trump and his cabinet are going to make things happen to help men and women who are re-entering society to get a fair shake.”

Nobody I spoke with denied that Trump says (and tweets) some outlandish things. But it wasn’t enough to drive them away.

“What drew me to Trump was his logical standpoint on politics and not getting caught up in being politically correct. He says it like it is, being blunt,” said Kidron Taylor, a 21-year-old from Batesville, Miss. “Yes, he says some rude, mean stuff sometimes, but when it comes down to the politics and his actions, it aligns more with what I believe in.”

Taylor, who revealed he is biracial, is a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights and Trump’s immigration policy.

“At the end of the day, I prefer someone who says stuff I don’t like sometimes and just say what’s on their mind than say, someone like Hillary (Clinton), who’ll say anything to make you feel good,” he said. “That’s someone I can trust more.”

Stewart said that often African Americans are too sensitive, allowing emotions to override logic.

“Blacks are more emotionally driven than by logic,” Stewart said. “Democrats pull on your emotional strings. I’m more driven by common sense. If it makes sense to me, then my logic is always going to overrule my emotions.”