A top African-American Republican blasted cuts he said are being made to federal programs aimed at helping minorities that he helped create during the Nixon administration during a Republican National Committee luncheon commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
Bob Brown, founder of the public relations firm B&C Associates, was a special assistant to President Richard Nixon from 1968 to 1973.
"We started the minority enterprise program and all the rest of the programs that are now being cut out," he said. "So I know what we can do, I know what we are capable of doing and we need to get on with that. And we need our organizations that are led by great people, many of them who are in this room, we need to support them more."
Brown also called on politicians of all stripes to remember the importance of working together.
"We still have to have people, the people in the Congress and in the White House, understand this nation was built on compromise," he said. "Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, independent, no matter what you are, let's re-determine who we are and what we're for and all the organizations that we belong to, develop them about what we can do for our communities and how we can collectively work together – black and white, rich and poor, all of us – we have a job to do."
Republicans and Democrats have failed to put together a spending deal that would stop the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester that have had a blunt impact on many federal spending programs.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the RNC, has made outreach to African-American, Hispanic and women voters a cornerstone of his efforts to lead the party.
"You can't make the sale if you don't show up for the order," Priebus said, of the voter outreach effort. "We need both parties fighting for every vote in this country."
Also speaking at the luncheon were Bob Woodson, Sr., a conservative community development leader; Jimmy Kemp, president of the Jack Kemp Foundation, which promotes conservative leaders; Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., and several others.
Though black voters have traditionally supported Democrats in recent decades, Republicans have sought to build in-roads by appealing to them on economic policy. Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama, the country's first black president, about the unemployment rate for African-Americans far outpacing that of whites, which sits at 12.6 percent versus 7.4 percent.
"So an anniversary like this isn't just a call to remembrance, it's a call to action," Priebus said. "We've got to keep working until every American has a fair shot. Until jobs are plentiful and communities are thriving. That means helping black- and minority-owned businesses grow. That means ensuring [Historically Black Colleges and Universities] weather these difficult economic times."