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5 African-American Conservative Role Models

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Jack is retired. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.


I consider myself to be a political conservative, and I believe that no matter who a person is or what beliefs they embrace, everyone can benefit from having positive role models to look up to and learn from. While I was growing up in NYC in the 1960s, I found JFK, John Glenn, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be great role models. One of the things I've never understood is why certain individuals become well-liked among minority groups while others are ignored or demonized. With that said, I have noticed that some of these African-American conservatives aren't shown much acknowledgement or attention, so I'm going highlight some of the reasons why I think these individuals are good conservative role models.

Qualifications of a Role Model

Before I list my picks of excellent Black, conservative role models, I want to address what makes a person worth looking up to. What qualities should a good role model embody? I believe a good role model is a person who...

  • excels at something or has accomplished something great
  • has succeeded in life despite challenges and adversity
  • has made a positive impact on other people
  • is a leader or innovator
  • can communicate well and inspire others

Notice that there is no mention of race, gender, or political affiliation.

Five Great Black Conservatives

As a Conservative, I am baffled by why some people in the Black community seem to shun Black conservatives even though many of them have achieved tremendous successes. Here are a few of my top picks of African American conservatives that are excellent role models.

  1. Thomas Sowell. An economist who is a frequent guest host on the Rush Limbaugh radio show nationwide. He is a conservative thinker and philosopher.
  2. Clarence Thomas. One of nine Supreme Court justices appointed by President Reagan.
  3. Walter Williams. An economics professor and writer who has written for numerous online news sites.
  4. Dr. Ben Carson. A successful brain surgeon who ran for President in 2016.
  5. Roy Innis. An American activist and politician. He has served as National Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).
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Peter Westbrook

Another great example of a conservative, African American is Peter Westbrook. He is an accomplished African American fencer and Olympian. He started a foundation to help youths channel their energy into the sport of fencing. Here is the Peter Westbrook Foundation story. He also wrote a great book detailing his own struggles growing up. His book is called "Harnessing Anger: The Inner Discipline of Athletic Excellence." It is an excellent read. Westbrook's story of success is inspiring. Westbrook was able to use his fame and talent to create a foundation to help others achieve the same goals. Since its inception in 1987, his foundation has helped over four thousand boys and girls pursue their dreams. Some have even become olympians themselves.

I don't know Mr. Westbrook's personal views on politics. From what I've read and seen in interviews, his message is always a positive one. He believes in each individual's ability to have an impact on his or her own life. With his foundation, Westbrook provided an opportunity for children to succeed, but he did not provide a free lunch. He offered kids a path out of poverty. That is in line with general conservative principles which place importance on helping people to help themselves. He is able to raise millions from private donations and corporate sponsors to help provide kids with an opportunity to improve their lives. Westbrook's story is truly about success and hard work and it's a story that should inspire others to follow his example.

Some Role Models Are Specific to a Group

Besides being a role model for all people, in some cases, a person can be a special role model for a particular group due to their unique experience. For example, a women such as Alice Paul who was a leader in the women's suffrage movement in the 1920s is an excellent role model in general, but she is also an especially good one for girls and women to look up to because she was a woman who advocated for the advancement of women. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is an excellent role model for many Black people because of his efforts to secure equal rights for Black people in the United States. Another good example is Ronald Reagan who became a Conservative icon due to his successful presidency and conservative values.

How Can a Role Model Make a Difference?

To a young person, a role model can be a parent, a teacher, a family member, or a neighbor. They can influence the behavior and development of that person in both positive or negative ways.

As people grow, their options for role models typically expand to include political leaders, celebrities, artists, innovators, and athletes. They can make a difference in how a person chooses a career, develops a skill, or participates in a movement.


I hope many Americans will read the life stories of some of these extraordinary conservatives and learn from their experiences. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and I hope more people will imitate these role models in pursuit of their own success.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Jack Lee

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