The Harvard Republican Club (HRC) and the Black Men’s Forum (BMF) co-sponsored the dinner, which attracted approximately 150 students—the largest audience ever to attend an HRC event, according to HRC President Caleb L. Weatherl ’10.
Steele, who became the first African American elected to a state-wide office in Maryland when he became lieutenant governor in 2002, is now the chairman of GOPAC, a Republican political action committee.
In his speech, Steele urged young conservatives to get involved in the political process.
“I have always tried to encourage, to the point of shaking, college Republicans to get involved, to be a part of the solution process,” he said. “And don’t ever think that your voice and your vote don’t matter.”
Steele also said that it is important, particularly for young activists, to realize that—despite Republican sentiment across the country—“the glass is still half full.”
“You begin to settle on why you are a part of this process, and why you believe what you believe,” he said. “Hopefully you will take some comfort in that and will be willing to go out and fight for it.”
Steele spoke with enthusiasm about the partnership between the HRC and the BMF, which co-sponsored the event for the first time this year.
“We need less noise of division and craziness and more noise of trying to figure out how we come together,” he said.
Ralph L. Bouquet ’09, president of the BMF, said that although the club does not typically take a political stance, the group was excited about collaborating with the HRC.
“We were very happy that the Republican Club would reach out to us to celebrate someone that has done a lot for the party,” said “This is a good opportunity for our membership to get exposed to a wide range of political ideologies.”
Weatherl underscored the role that students can play in the political process. “I think the HRC is going to have a huge opportunity to get involved with the campaign, plug students into the political process, and elect Senator John McCain as the next president of the United States,” he said.
John McCain posters, t-shirts and stickers were available for purchase in the back of the hall.
Literature Professor Ruth Wisse, faculty adviser of the HRC, said that she was very excited to attend the dinner for the first time.
“I’m very happy to hear Steele and very happy to be here,” she said. “It’s a good moment.”
The Lincoln Day Dinner is an annual event held by conservative organizations across the country.
Past speakers include Miss America 2003, Harvard Law School alumna Erika N. Harold, and former welfare mother and conservative activist Star Parker.
—Staff writer Laura C. McKiernan can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.