Civil rights icon blasts Sen. Rand Paul's outreach to minorities - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Civil rights icon blasts Sen. Rand Paul's outreach to minorities

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville civil rights icon is blasting a Republican U.S. Senator's efforts to reach out to the black community.

Kentucky's first African American state Senator says blacks should not buy what Rand Paul is selling.

Rand Paul was back in west Louisville Monday, touring the Village Learning Center. It's a church-run after-school and summer program designed to raise the performance level of students.

"One of the new things that I think could still help education, both here and across the United States, is competition," said Paul.

The school is operated by the Midwest Church of Christ. Pastor Jerry Stephenson is a long-time advocate of education reform.

"That's what we need, more than anything else in the west end of Louisville, is education. And quality education," he said.

But while Paul was in the California neighborhood promoting education reform as a key to prosperity for African Americans, a Louisville civil rights legend was essentially calling Paul a wolf in sheep's clothing.

In an op-ed in today's newspaper, former state senator Georgia Davis Powers says while she always supports efforts at inclusion, "... Sen. Paul is forgetting a critical concept: You must earn our community's trust and support. We don't give it freely. We especially don't give it to leaders who shake our hands while spitting in our faces."

Powers then goes on to list a series of civil rights and social issues she says Paul has either questioned or opposed, from the Civil Rights Act to increasing the minimum wage.

"I think Sen. Powers did an excellent job of laying this out. You can say these things but what do you do?" said state Sen. Gerald Neal (D-Louisville.)

Paul says it's all partisan politics and pointed to his efforts in education and criminal justice reform. And he repeated a controversial claim he's made before.

"I really do stick by what I said. I don't think there's anybody in Congress doing more for minority rights than I am right now."

Some African Americans say they are willing to give Paul a hearing, including Mendell Grinter, who says he voted for President Obama, and is Kentucky director of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. 

"There's a problem. We know there's a problem, and we have to fix it. And I don't think it matters who is the person fixing it, it just needs to be fixed," said Grinter.

Powers did not respond to a request for an interview.

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