The Republican National Committee recently brought on a fresh new voice to help with African-American initiatives and urban media. At just 21, Leah Le’Vell has been helping the RNC this summer with outreach to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), including collaborating with former “Apprentice” contestant Omarosa Manigault, a well-known celebrity heading up black outreach for Donald Trump.
“I am proud to be a young black woman and equally as proud to be a Republican,” Le’Vell told Opportunity Lives. “I am humbled to have the opportunity to work for the Republican National Committee during a presidential election year. The greater reward is working on initiatives and action items for my community. The black community is better served when there are advocates for us, like any other group, working both sides of the aisle for our interests.”
Originally from Atlanta, Le’Vell first got involved with the Republican Party because of her father’s various leadership positions in the Georgia GOP.
“I grew up being able to see his passion for wanting to make a difference and stand up for those who don’t have a voice in our community,” Le’Vell said. “As I matured, I examined my personal values and the differences between the two political parties for myself. I realized that I too, identified with the Republican Party, and wanted to be actively involved. Watching my father gave me the inspiration to want to stay engaged and end up working for the Republican National Committee.”
Le’Vell said her family and friends are supportive and proud of the fact that she is passionate and working for something she believes in.
“At the end of the day, they know I am working to make my party better, by being a voice for millennials, especially young women of color within my party,” she said. “Not surprisingly we have had a positive reception from many within the HBCU community at large. Organizations like Thurgood Marshall College Fund, HBCU media outlets, campus leaders and faculty have been receptive to being helpful because they understand the value of giving students information from both sides of the aisle.”
Too often, Le’Vell said that information accuracy and commitment to ideological diversity on college campuses varies; she said more liberal campuses have a liberal filter and bias in the administration among faculty.
“Luckily, we have great organizations like the College Republicans, Generation Opportunity, Young America’s Foundation and others that work to give alternative views on campuses,” Le’Vell said. “Additionally, we cannot forget how savvy and in tune my generation is. We are online, we use social media and go straight to the source to seek out information for ourselves. In many ways we are not that trusting of career politicians and the mainstream media in Washington so that creates an opportunity for us to shift through the noise and get the facts.”
Interestingly, Le’Vell said her goal is not to explicitly convert young people to become Republican, rather she aims to provide open minds with information about GOP values, policies, history and leaders like Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Elise Stefanik (R-New York), and what she calls “many unsung leaders of the past, present and a new generation of leaders that have been working for years on causes that really matter to them.”
While Le’Vell is under no illusion about how Trump is facing historically high negatives among black voters, she also points out that Hillary Clinton also has historically high negatives.
“There is no secret that there are many in my community and generation that were not and are not supporting her because they were more connected and felt Bernie Sanders was more trustworthy and understood their issues,” Le’Vell said.
Photo: Leah Le’Vell
Le’Vell said she hopes to share more about “who Donald Trump really is, what he really cares about and what he wants to do for my community and my peers. We have to fight to overcome the false narrative presented about him. We also have to remind people that Mr. Trump’s candidacy is not just about him, he cannot govern solely by executive order. Our party is a big tent and we have Speaker Ryan and his Opportunity Agenda and other leaders and organizations like Right on Crime that will work with a Trump Administration to make America Great Again.”
Le’Vell said she thinks the biggest misconception about black Republicans is that they are not involved or uncaring about the black community.
“Just because we have an R next to our name does not mean we do not want the very best for our community, we just have different views on how we do it,” she said. “Somehow if you are a Republican that happens to be black you are instantly labeled a ‘sellout.’ If you read the backgrounds of many black Republican leaders you might be surprised to know how connected they really are and how their experiences growing up Black help shape their conservative viewpoints today.”
Le’Vell says that in 2016, she hopes she would be judged more by the content of her character than by her political affiliation. “In the end, I am following my passion, trying to help advance my party while making more inroads to my community,” she said. “This could only happen in the greatest country in the world, which is why I want to make America great again for everyone, especially those in my community.”
Le’Vell said she hopes to see Donald Trump elected president and would love to find a way to continue her passion for public service and communications in a Trump administration. She certainly wants to graduate from college, start a family of my own and be happy doing what I love to do in the communications world.
“My bucket list is too long enough to even begin to talk about the places I want to travel, people I want to meet, experiences I wish to have and goals I want to achieve,” she said. “Just know that with hard work, faith and the support of my family and close friends I will complete that list!”
Cross-posted from Opportunity Lives.
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others. A founding reporter at POLITICO, Carrie contributed on political economy at Forbes, wrote editorials for The Washington Times under Tony Blankley and advised Bustle, a popular digital media brand. Carrie earned a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, concentrating in business policy. She has a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.