This past weekend I had the honor of attending and speaking at the CTRA Connecting Conservatives event. According to their website, the Connecticut Republican Assembly is a “chapter of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA), which is the grassroots movement to take back the Republican Party for the vast and disenfranchised majority of its members: Reagan conservatives, who believe in small government, lower taxes, free-market capitalism, a strong defense, the right to life, and a decent America.”

The event organized by President Mark Anderson and the CTRA team was a great success. I attended last year’s first event held at the Polish club in Hartford. The event was at the same location this year but the added numbers of attendees allowed for a larger room. Along with the larger crowd, I noticed the number of conservative people of color increased. I often feel alone as a black conservative in CT, so this encouraged me.

As I registered for the day I was delighted to see conservative elected officials, non-profit leaders and community members streaming into the room. I had fifteen minutes to speak about the good work FIC does, our 2019 victories and upcoming events such as the April 15th CT March for Life. The block of time I was scheduled in also included short talks from powerful conservative women across the state. In the non-partisan speaker’s section, we heard impassioned speeches from Gwen Samuel at the CT Parents Union, Holly Sullivan with the CT Citizens Defense League, myself, Linda Szynkowicz with Fight Voter Fraud, Jen Ezzell from No Tolls CT and Carol Platt Libeau from the Yankee Institute. Every woman represented her organization and their cause well. I was inspired to hear of the ways they are standing up for parental rights, exposing corruption and keeping elected officials accountable to the people of CT.

After that part of the event, there was an informative and engaging panel discussion on, “Understanding Urban Voters”. The panel included Bernard Bailey, Will Duff, Rev. Ernestine Holloway, Middletown councilman Ed Ford and Ruben Rodriguez who is challenging Jahana Hayes in an upcoming election. The panel offered helpful insights into reaching communities of color with the principles of conservatism. Some of the advice repeated by multiple panelists was to go into the cities and build bridges with people. Rev. Ernestine and Ed Ford both said they’d talked with people while campaigning who’d never had a Republican come to their door, let alone met a Black Republican. They also stressed the importance of connecting with community leaders such as pastors and ministers who have great influence in cities across CT.

After the panel, we heard from three speakers on “principles, policy, and party”. State Rep. Craig Fishbein spoke along with State Senator Rob Sampson and Coventry Town Councilman Matt O’Brien. They gave inspiring talks highlighting the importance of local politics, patriotism and uniting together to stand for the values we hold dear.

I left the event feeling strengthed and excited about what is happening among Connecticut Conservatives. It was great to talk with new people, exchange information and hear about their passion and what they care about. I’m grateful for Mark Anderson’s leadership and looking forward to strengthening the connections with conservatives in the coming days!