Horace Cooper's Speech at UNCG
This page was last updated on 21 April 2012.
In the Fall of 1994, the members of the UNCG College Republicans had become thoroughly disgusted with the stifling leftist atmosphere at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The club leadership decided that only the College Republicans, as the lone full-fledged conservative organization on campus, could correct the unhealthy political imbalance.
Our solution was to host a conservative speaker at UNCG, and not just any ol' conservative, but a black conservative. We did so both to give voice to an all-too-ignored perspective and to dispel the campus liberals' bigoted notions of our alleged racism. We fully realized that our efforts would be at best only half-successful.
We were all familiar with and enthusiastic for Project 21, an initiative of The National Center for Public Policy Research which promotes the views of moderate and conservative African-Americans, views which aren't represented by the left-dominated "civil rights" establishment. We were confident that we could arrange a suitable speaker through them.
Our speaker was Horace Cooper who was a member of Project 21's National Advisory Committee. Additionally, he served as Legislative Director for then-House Minority Leader Dick Armey. His presentation was entitled "The Impact of the Federal Government on African-Americans: Why I Am a Conservative Black American." We were more than pleased to have a politically active, politically connected speaker with an appropriately provocative message.
We did have one little problem: securing the $500 we needed to fund our event. We made a pro forma attempt to get the money as a one-time grant from the UNCG Student Government which had an operating budget gleaned from mandatory student activity fees. As we expected, our request was rejected because we were a "political organization" despite the fact that our group was a social and educational club based on political affiliation and played no role in the election of partisan candidates like the Republican National Committee. Also of no importance to our collegiate solons were the dual facts that conservative students paid activity fees and deserved equal access to them to fund their activities and that Student Government "sponsored" and provided $5,000 annual operating budgets to clearly political, "apolitical" organizations such as the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Student Association and the Evironmental Awareness Foundation.
Undaunted, we did what we knew we'd have to do all along; like the good, self-respecting conservatives that we were, we sought our funding independently. We received the majority of our funding from Young America’s Foundation, a conservative educational organization. The remainder came equally from our own pockets and a gift from Chuck Winfree, a local attorney who was in the midst of a successful campaign for county commissioner.
Finally, on the evening of 27 October 1994, the UNCG College Republicans hosted Horace Cooper before an audience of three or four dozen. While only eight of the audience were the most consistently active members of UNCG College Republicans and a lesser number of Guilford County Republican Party members, the majority of the audience were from UNCG's notoriously apathetic student body, and we even had guests from outside of the university community. All things considered, we were very pleased with the turnout for our event.
I'm afraid I can't recall much of Horace's speech. I plead the dual forces of fulfilling my duties as "Official Event Photographer" and the passage of time. I do remember one extraordinary exchange during the question-and-answer session. A young brother who had obviously pegged Horace as an "oreo," an "Uncle Tom," a "house negro," or some other black racist racial slur for a "race traitor" tried baiting Horace by asking him what he thought of Rodney King. Without a moment's hesitation, Horace replied, "Rodney King is no Rosa Parks." The majority of the audience rose for a raucous standing ovation much to the consternation of the questioner.
-- Matt Wallace, 27 October 2002
The audience for Horace Cooper's speech
The audience for Horace Cooper's speech from the reverse angle
Horace Cooper addresses the audience
Horace Cooper makes a point
Horace Cooper and the Executive Committee of the UNCG College Republicans
Front row (L-R): First Vice Chairman Terry Sullivan, Horace Cooper, Chairman Della Jenkins
Back row (L-R): North Carolina Federation of College Republicans Administrative Vice Chairman Brad Smith, Second Vice Chairman Jason Barbour, Publications Director Matt Wallace
Horace Cooper and the UNCG College Republicans
Front row (L-R): Andrew Hadden, Horace Cooper, Della Jenkins, Terry Sullivan, Matt Wallace
Back row (L-R): Eric Boyd, Brad Smith, Tony Posey (Staffer, U.S. Rep. Howard Coble (NC-6)), Jason Barbour, Jaran Robert Stratton