Marie Stroughter is co-founder of African-American Conservatives (AACONS), which started just after the 2008 presidential election of Barack Obama –– a place for black conservatives to "vent, "share," and "build consensus." Later AACONS added BlogTalkRadio to their repertoire with host Marie Stroughter, opening the show in a sleek, cool and confident tone, "…African-American conservatives; the soul of the conservative movement."
In less than a year, Marie is quickly becoming a conservative talk-radio star. With a line-up consisting of high-profile guests like Steve Forbes, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Malkin, Andrew Breitbart, Lloyd Marcus of the Tea Party Express [photo right: Stroughter and Marcus], Peter Schiff, Chuck DeVore, John Dennis, Star Parker, and many more, you can see why the Los Angeles Times recently took notice of AACONS, with the headline, "Aspiring Rush Limbaughs take to Web radio."
AACON's Internet show, which airs live every Tuesday at 7:00 (PDT) –– occasionally more, has been featured on BlogTalkRadio numerous times including Blog Talk's blog. Last week, Marie had an entertaining interview with Michael Graham, talk show host and author of his latest bestseller, That's No Angry Mob, That's My Mom: Team Obama's Assault on Tea-Party, Talk-Radio Americans, and snagged an interview with former Ambassador John Bolton as well as returning guest, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
I learned about AACONS' "web talk-radio show" back in early March when I was snooping around BlogTalkRadio and happened to listen in on their interview with Steve Forbes. Later, Jamison Braly, Blogcritics writer, who also hosts a BlogTalkRadio show along with Braden Pace –– Stubborn Facts Radio from the Conservamedia Network –– introduced me to Marie.
[AACONS interview with Steve Forbes, March 9, 2010]
Over the past couple of months, I've followed Marie via AACONS' radio show as well as the usual social networking culprits, Facebook and Twitter. In fact, Marie calls me one of AACONS's "biggest fans," and she's right; I admire her mission and the passion she exhibits behind it.
Last week, I had the privilege of interviewing the "interviewee," for Blogcrtics, realizing that Marie and I have more in common than Conservatism: our Christian faith, raising children, and our pet calico cats. Marie, along with my teenager daughter, helped navigate me through my first time using Skype and we chatted for a while, discussing a variety of topics including biblical, but mostly political, our president, and the inside story on how AACONS was born and their successful "web talk-radio" show.
Marie, have you always been political?
I can't say that I was apolitical, but I would say that I had been apathetic for a long time, and just voted on measures and never voted for people. I was really disillusioned because I would see candidates that supported something that I believed in, but then they espoused another position that I equally didn't. It was really hard for me to reconcile that.
The two things that politicized me –– "the lightening rods" –– were President Obama's election and watching my mother dying in a county hospital. If you want to know what free-health care is about, just die in "free" health care! But that is another topic entirely, however, at the height of the ObamaCare debate, I addressed it quite passionately in a podcast, with a very personal account about my experience with socialized medicine and why I am against it.
During the campaign I got tons of e-mails from Sebastian's family (my husband) saying, "We have to support Obama." I sent them back this wonderful piece that I found online written by an African-American man named Huntley Brown –– a Christian concert pianist I believe –– "Why I cannot support Barack Obama." He said, "I do not process my life through my blackness, I process my life through my Christianity."
I think most in the African-American community process our politics through our "blackness." Because, economically, we tend to be pretty disenfranchised. And there are so many issues that our community faces –– as all communities do –– so, I think that we tend to process our political views based on what is going on for us culturally. We shouldn't do that. I remember growing up, I had a youth minister that used to say, "You cannot be a thermometer; a thermometer reacts to external situations. You have to be a thermostat; a thermostat sets the temperature, and it does not deviate." Part of the problem is that we as Christians –– as the bible puts it, "My people perish for lack of knowledge." And some are what I call, "cafeteria Christians," while others tend to do "Situation Ethics" rather than allow the Word to be their thermostat.
Did I ever think about voting for Barack Obama? Never once did it enter my mind. Never once did I think,"Oh should I?" Never!
Have you always been a Conservative?
Interestingly, I grew up in a very solidly "blue" household. I mean, it was a sin to like the Dodgers [laugh] –– sorry no offense –– and it was equally a sin to vote for anything other than the Democratic ticket.
However, even in high school, when I was president of our debate team, I gave a speech on "life" and I talked about abortion and its gory practice, in detail. I've always been pro-life and the "sanctity of life" is still a big issue for me today. As I became a Christian, lived life, and starting raising and teaching my children, it solidified what I had always felt about a lot of things.
Let's fast forward. Since you are co-founder of African-American Conservatives (AACONS), I was wondering if you would tell me how it all got started? [The ACCONS website, talk-radio show, blog, Amazon bookstore, and the Cafe Press Store]
What really kicked it off for me was having this particular president [Obama]. My family tends to deconstruct the day around the dinner table. My husband and I would talk about a lot of things and my kids were sitting there. I thought, "It's not enough for me to just kvetch about what I like and dislike about this administration. I've got to do more. As long as I have the right to free speech, I need to exercise it and teach my kids to do the same –– to have respect for the office, yet, they can dissent through the laws that are given to us.
So, do you oppose Obama because you think he is too far left?
Absolutely! Not only is Obama pro-choice, but partial birth abortion? That is just absolutely barbaric!
Remember when I called into your show a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to know how you get so many high-profile guests. As one of your "biggest fans," can you divulge your secret now?
What happened was, as I mentioned, right before the election I got all these e-mails saying, "We need to support this man." Then right after the election, well meaning people would come up to me and say, "We're so happy for YOU" and "YOUR president." And it was like, "Uhhhh . . . okay he doesn't really speak for me." Yeah, of course I appreciate the historicity of the moment. Sure I understand…the guy is our first president of African decent. He is equally as white as he is black, which nobody really talks about. As someone who is multiracial myself, I am sensitive to that particular issue. But, be that as it may, he presents as black and that is how people perceive him. And of course, I am happy for our country; that we have gotten to that point. Am I happy for him? Am I happy that he is the one that broke that barrier? NO! Absolutely, a thousand times, no!
I had been following "DarkKnight3565" on Twitter and I was watching all the things he tweeted. Then I noticed his avatar and I thought, "This is a black guy saying this!" So, I wrote asked him, "Are you tired of people coming up to you, congratulating you on your president." And he expressed some of the similar feelings that I had.
As we talked more, I thought, "I bet there are other people feeling this way," and of course hearing the whole "Tea Party is racists" thing, –– blah, blah, blah. Then I suggested maybe we should throw up a little website where we could talk about some of these things behind closed doors –– not to exclude anybody, but it's just that there are issues specific to the African-American community that may feel a little different to some then they do to the mainstream. Like gun violence and race issues; that we are supposed to be Democrats, that we betrayed our race; that we are "Uncle Toms," and we're "sell-outs." Let's talk about that behind closed doors and then come out and present a unified front on a variety positions. Maybe we can develop some sort of a platform; knowing that there would be a breath of diversity and opinion.
So, were you building a platform to have your voice –– the black conservative community –– be heard?
I think it was really just a place to talk about stuff, vent, and process what was going on because this was a momentous occasion in history and yet we weren't processing it the way that most of our community was –– with this kind of joyous enthusiasm.
Didn't Obama get 95 percent of the black vote?
I think it was around 96 percent. It was huge.
So you are part of the 4 percent that didn't vote for Obama?
Yes. Can you imagine what that was like? I forwarded Huntley's article to my family and they responded, "Oh, you [sic] drinking that Bush kool-aid." I felt like I needed a place to lick my wounds because I was getting it from both sides. I was getting it from the black community because, "I'm the sellout." And people, who were not of the same ethnicity, were celebrating how we're "post racial" and "racism is dead." And I'm sitting there thinking, "I don't fall in either camp; I am totally disenfranchised." As I began to get more involved on Twitter and talk to more people, I found that I wasn't alone. So, we thought that we've got to have a place where we can talk about some of this stuff because we don't fit into any peg.
Right after Sebastian, "DarkKnight," and I started the AACONS website, one of the people that I follow on Twitter mentioned that a friend of his was running for office here in California –– Craig DeLuz, a young conservative black guy, who was doing a lot of great things. He's working with youth and the African-American community, who tend to be blinded in their allegiance to the Democratic Party that has done nothing for them. I wanted to interview him and know how to he was able to translate our conservative values into something that people can internalize –– to make them think and realize that our "core spiritual values" are closer to the conservative end of the spectrum than they are to the liberal [Democratic] end. When you take the word Republican out — the perception that it is all white, old men, and blah, blah, blah –– and you talk about traditional family values and the sanctity of life.
So, I spoke to Craig DeLuz on the phone for about an hour and it was amazing! When I asked him if he would do an interview, he said, "My twin brother is a Democrat and we have a radio show on BlogTalkRadio (The DeLuz Brothers) –– have you heard of it?" Since I hadn't, he gave me the information and we did our interview on BlogTalkRadio, our first, which aired on April 16, 2009. Craig Deluz has been our show several times and he started a new show that debuted today, Conversations with Craig.
Well, since your first interview; your show has become a hit and quite popular, attracting high-profile guests like Steve Forbes, Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, many politicians and political candidates, authors, and an array of interesting guests. How the heck did that happen?
How that happened was, like I said, I had this political awakening and I found out –– I think on Twitter –– that Chuck DeVore was running for office here in California. And I wanted to do something locally; get involved and make a difference. So, I researched Chuck and later became administrator of the Bay Area Group for Chuck's campaign on Ning (not the official campaign website). Due to the fact that I was in on conference calls and intimately knew the people involved with his campaign –– now with a fledgling radio show –– I thought, "Maybe I'll tap into some of these contacts and see if I could get Chuck on the show." So, Chuck was on the show. I am still a staunch Chuck DeVore supporter –– a man that carries a copy of the Constitution in his breast pocket at all times!
Chuck DeVore was a guest on your show recently, was he on a few times?
Yes, he was our guest in July or last year too. Our second guest was Navy veteran and aspiring politician, Coby Dillard, founder of the blog, The Dillard Doctrine, who has been on the show a few times.
Then I started meeting people of color that were fiercely conservative and I just started asking if they would be on the show. And people would know people that would know people…and so on.
Another draw came from those promoting books and going on press junkets. Also, I think part of the attraction is our name, AACON. It was meant to be a play on ACORN; it was never meant to be this divisive hyphenated thing, but having "African-American" in our name helped with people who wanted to reach out to the black community.
In the beginning, we got the third degree from publicists and press secretaries of potential guests, asking, "How many listeners do you have?" Originally the attitude was sort of like "you're small potatoes." As we got more and more of the bigger names through relationships that we developed, then people started to take notice a little bit. Then we were featured on Blog Talk and later Radio for Conservatives (From the Right Radio) approached us to be a show on their channel. Now we can usually get interviews because of our track record: over 10,000 "listens;" a featured show; and we've been number one on BlogTalkRadio a few times.
You did this all in less than a year and you are becoming quite the conservative talk-radio star. Wow, I'm impressed!
I would say that it is totally a God thing! I truly believe that. I can also attribute it to the First Amendment and my strong belief in modeling to my kids that you can exercise free speech. I can also talk about God on the airwaves as much as I want –– for now [we both smirk]. It is not only an opportunity for me to be a political Mama –– Sarah Palin calls us, "Mama Grizzlies," but I can be a political activist as well as impart my faith.
"African-American Conservatives…Your source for conservative political news and commentary, from an African-American perspective… African-American Conservatives; the soul of the conservative movement." –– Marie Stroughter, BlogTalkRadio