James Cheng / msnbc.com
Emery McClendon, 59, speaks at the "Stand Up Indiana - Stop Obamacare" rally in Indianapolis, Ind. on Oct. 16, 2010. McClendon, a veteran and a Fed-Ex driver was a key speaker at the rally.
Emery McClendon is a husband, father, Air Force retiree, Christian, a FedEx driver, amateur radio guy and photographer. In general, his race is beside the point.
But this series is about the Tea Party, a movement that struggles to persuade some observers that it is not merely a racist reaction to a black president. The 59-year-old McClendon, as can clearly be seen in James Cheng’s photo, is a black man. He is also a prominent voice in the Tea Party movement.
McClendon was among the highlighted speakers at a recent rally in administration against the health-care package, adding his voice to the chorus with this message: the Tea Party movement has nothing to do with race.
“We are not the KKK,” he boomed with rhetorical flourish. “We are patriots.”
McClendon was raised at a time when the black population was overwhelmingly Democratic. It wasn’t easy to “come out” as a conservative Republican.
“I grew up in a household where they would break your neck if you voted any other way,” says McClendon. “But they were very conservative. My parents really didn’t know how conservative they were.”
The Fort Wayne native served in the Air Force for four years then joined the Indiana Air Guard. His 23 years as a FedEx driver paid the bills while he and his wife, Queenie, raised their three sons.
Over time McClendon decided that his views on abortion, limited government and taxation - principles he says he learned from his parents - just didn’t match liberal views.
“I ended up thinking I wasn’t a Democrat or a Republican, but more of a Reagan conservative,” he says, and he has voted accordingly since the election of George H.W. Bush.
By the time McClendon established the local Tea Party chapter last year, he had a network of conservative friends. At the group’s first rally in front of the Fort Wayne courthouse, former conservative presidential candidate Alan Keyes delivered the keynote address.
Since then, McClendon has frequently been invited to speak at Tea Party events in Indiana and elsewhere. Public speaking comes easily to him, he says, because as a child he used to travel with his uncle, a bishop for the Church of God in Christ, listening to preachers and talking morals and values.
Photoblog of "Faces of the Tea Party" here: http://photoblog.nbcnews.com/faces-of-the-tea-party
I'm sure glad McClendon is with us, we're in need of leaders like him.
Tea Party, first in battle to save the Republic !
Emery, you said it perfectly: “I ended up thinking I wasn’t a Democrat or a Republican, but more of a Reagan conservative,” that's exactly what many of us are.
We love our country and the principles that made it the greatest place on earth. Those of us who have served in the military and traveled overseas, have seen how good our country is. Many of those "civilizations" pre-date ours by over a thousand years. You have to ask yourselves: how was it that America could evolve into a place where much of the world wants to live in only a few hundred years? The answer is the dignity of it's citizens exercising their personal liberty granted by GOD, not a government.
Yes, there have been rough spots, there have been mistakes, there have even been human atrocities along the way, but our country has pursued the ideal that we are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. No other country protects the unalienable rights of its citizens like we do. Even the most "civilized", "advanced" cultures/countries are dependent on a government, a monarch, a dictaor, etc. to "grant" them their rights.
Let's all vow to resist tyranny and keep building on the promise of America!
Next we will be accused of being members of The American Nazi Party!
Mmmmm delicious patriots. :) Sorry. Been reading through links at liberal websites and needed some comic relief. Thanks for the setup.
Don't know how much more Obama I can stomach today... but the research must be done.
We The People have a fraud and usurper sitting in the White House going by the name of barack hussein obama using a stolen social security number , forged birth certificate and forged selective service registration card to prove he is a legal sitting US President .
We The People demand that the US Congress honor their oath to the US Constitution and remove this fraud and usurper barack hussein obama from office under Article ll Section 1 Clause 5 of the US Constitution .
The fraud and usurper barack hussein obama can not be impeached because he is not a legal sitting US President . The removal of this fraud and usurper barack hussein obama from office must come under US Constitutional law Article ll Section 1 Clause 5
US Constitutional law must be enforced if We The People are to remain a free and constitutional republic .
I'd like to share a few points i have come to realize about our young. I have three children is their 30's. I have talked to them about racism, or what the left calls raciest. what I found was their social mind set that was not to speak or discuss race issues. I say race issues I'm talking about race issues which involve Blacks. I'd like to add all of my kids consider themselves to be conservatives. Our young have been PC neutered! I have engaged them with this conversation and will continue to open their brains and their minds. How can you fix a problem that you can't even discuss?
The only "hyphenation" we need is for Great-American!