Black Chicago Pastor: ‘Democrats Have Taken Advantage of Our Community’

By Penny Starr | June 15, 2015 | 3:20pm EDT
In this photo taken, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, Rev. Corey Brooks sits in a tent where he is living atop an old drug and prostitution motel in one of Chicago's toughest neighborhoods to raise $450,000 to purchase the motel and use it as an education center to fight crime and gangs. (AP Photo)

( – Corey Brooks, pastor of New Beginnings Church on the infamous south side of Chicago, wants Republican presidential candidates to speak to his congregation, because being black doesn’t mean you have to be a member of the Democrat Party – which he says has failed to help his community.

National Public Radio host Scott Simon asked Brooks on Saturday’s “Weekend Edition” why he has made the appeal to the Republican hopefuls.

“Well for far too long, Democrats have taken advantage of our community and just always felt as if we're just going to be there for them without having to do the things that are necessary in our community,” said Brooks, who is a Republican.

“The Republican Party has overlooked this, simply because they thought that - out of tradition and out of culture - that we're going to continue to just vote the same way all the time, but that is definitely not true.

“And if the Republican Party would be so kind to reach out, I'm sure that they will find a group of people who are interested in their policies and their practices,” Brooks said.

Simon, one of taxpayer-supported public radio’s most popular liberal hosts, then asked Brooks if the Republicans had “policies that would interest you more?”

“Absolutely,” Brooks said. “I think school choice is a big thing, and I think, educationally, that African-American children should have the same privilege that all other children that come from well-to-do families have, and that is they should be able to go to any school that is a good school, and they should not be regulated to poor-performing schools in their community just because they live in a certain ZIP code or certain area code."

In defense of Democrats, Simon asked: “What about employment, because I think a lot of Democratic candidates - including, certainly, the ones who've run for office there in Chicago - would argue that they have dedicated a lot of federal, state and city money to the interests of African-Americans in the South Side?”

To which Brooks replied, “Show us some jobs.”

“They're going to say they pumped in a lot of money to the South Side of Chicago,” Brooks said, “and I'm going to say, you pumped in a lot of money, but show us some jobs.

“We need economic empowerment, and we need to have tax incentives and tax breaks for corporations that decide to come to places like the South Side of Chicago and hire individuals on the South Side of Chicago, and we need to have those areas built up,” Brooks said, “and the only way we're going to be - get them built up, is that we have to create a way for an economic base to be put in place.”

Brooks said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has spoken to the congregation, but he announced in the interview that Ben Carson, a fellow Republican, will be speaking to the congregation on Father’s Day.

Simon ended the interview by asking Brooks if his congregation was merely “indulging” him or were actually receptive to hearing the GOP’s message.

“I think - not just my congregation - but people in the city of Chicago are being more receptive,” Brooks said. “I was talking to a lady at Starbucks, and she was saying, ‘Pastor, thank you, because all my life I've voted Democrat, and I've always thought that we should vote different ways and just never spoke out.’”

“And she was saying that she's going to have - start having that type of conversation with her family about voting differently,” he said, “and this lady is tied to a Democratic political figure in the city of Chicago.

“So I think it's a matter of showing people the various views and then letting them decide for themselves,” Brooks added.

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