The Rise of Black Support for Trump

The Rise of Black Support for Trump

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Fearing backlash, some black people feel they can only whisper, “I’m voting for Trump.”

But others are becoming louder and prouder in voicing support for former President Donald Trump.

Mark Fisher, co-founder of a Black Lives Matter (BLM) group in Rhode Island, made waves recently with his endorsement of the former president.

“I knew I was going to pay a price for it,” Mr. Fisher told The Epoch Times, “but I felt like the benefit of doing it far outweighed the cost of me playing it safe.”

Mr. Fisher said he felt obligated “to clear a path” for those who think the way he does.

He and other pro-Trump black people are considered renegades.

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Mark Fisher, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Rhode Island. (Courtesy of Mark Fisher)

That’s partly because President Trump’s foes have tried to brand him as a racist unworthy of votes from black Americans. But it’s also because he’s a Republican.

For generations, black leaders and churches have encouraged black people to vote for Democrats, including President Joe Biden.

But the tide seems to be turning. Opinion polls are showing that more black people are willing to break rank, as Mr. Fisher did.

Since President Trump’s win in 2016, black support for him has more than tripled, now exceeding 20 percent in some surveys.

Polling suggests that black people and other minorities who once spurned President Trump now appear willing to give his candidacy a fresh look—a trend that could help spell the difference between victory and defeat in the 2024 election.

The Biden campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Three main factors appear to be spurring black people to pivot toward President Trump, according to Mr. Fisher and others who spoke to The Epoch Times: the economy, the criminal justice system, and the influence of other black people going public with their support.

Americans are continuing to feel the pinch of economic conditions under President Biden. Just about everyone, regardless of skin color, feels the weight of higher prices for groceries, gasoline, housing, and other essentials; for months, polls have been showing that a vast majority of citizens disapprove of the president’s economic policies, dubbed “Bidenomics.”

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People are also noticing the justice system’s seemingly unjust treatment of President Trump—a fate many black people have experienced.

“They’re saying to themselves: ‘Now wait a minute; this looks very familiar,’” Mr. Fisher said. “Subconsciously, that’s a powerful thing.”

Black people also lament that authorities are letting violent crime and illegal immigrants run amok, while they’re targeting President Trump and others for alleged nonviolent offenses.

Having prominent black people, including musicians, revealing pro-Trump opinions, has emboldened others to do the same.

Mr. Fisher said these endorsements made him feel he wasn’t alone; those trailblazers inspired him to come out of the shadows.

“I saw other black people expressing themselves, displaying courage and independent thought, not being afraid of what other people think about them,” he said. “And I felt that my community needed me to do that too.”

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Protesters wearing “Blacks for Trump” T-shirts speak to the press outside the Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. United States Courthouse in Miami, Fla., on June 13, 2023.

Strong Reactions

Although Mr. Fisher said he “took a lot of heat” for endorsing President Trump, he also got “a lot of powerful, impactful, and profound messages from people all around the world,” along with interview requests from as far away as Japan.

President Trump thanked Mr. Fisher with a surprise phone call and a dinner invitation. Some people excoriated the former president for doing so, considering Mr. Fisher’s history with BLM.

President Trump and BLM have accused each other of sowing seeds of hatred and violence.

“I feel like the white racists hate me and the black racists hate me,” Mr. Fisher said. “But what I’m doing is separating the wheat from the chaff. I’m creating a safe space for all those who want to be on the right side of history, who want to come together for the betterment of America and improvement of the people of America.

“People are welcome to join in on that vision, or walk away from it. It’s that simple.”

This fall, before Mr. Fisher revealed his support for President Trump, black rapper Waka Flocka Flame posted a profile picture of himself alongside President Trump on X, formerly Twitter. Separately, he posted: “TRUMP2024.”

The photo attracted at least 13.5 million views. It also sparked controversy for the rapper, who had previously made derogatory remarks about the former president.

Top Trump adviser Bruce LeVell told The Epoch Times that the musical artist had quietly begun shifting toward the former president some time ago; Mr. LeVell and Waka Flocka Flame met in 2022 and posed for a photo together.

 Rapper Waka Flocka Flame (L) and Bruce LeVell, an adviser to former President Donald Trump, pose for a photo in 2022. (Courtesy of Bruce LeVell)
Rapper Waka Flocka Flame (L) and Bruce LeVell, an adviser to former President Donald Trump, pose for a photo in 2022. (Courtesy of Bruce LeVell)

Being Informed

Other black people, whether prominent or not, are starting to realize that Big Tech companies and government agencies worked together to suppress and twist information about President Trump, other political figures, and many hot-button issues in society, Mr. LeVell said.

“This is, as I call it, ‘The Season of Exposure,’” he said. “And the great lies are being exposed.”

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McKayla Rose. (Courtesy of McKayla Rose)

A woman who goes by the name McKayla Rose on X agrees. Ms. Rose, 36, of Dallas, spoke to The Epoch Times on condition that her real name not be used because she wants to avoid repercussions.

Ms. Rose said she initially “fell into the propaganda of Trump being bad.”

“I was like, ‘Man, if everybody hates Trump, he must be a bad guy,’” she said.

But things started to change for her about four years ago. As a mother of two, Ms. Rose became increasingly concerned about issues affecting her children. So she started spending more time researching government policies and politics.

Originally from Tampa, Ms. Rose grew up amid a mix of white people, Hispanics, and Asians. That real-life experience convinced her that “America is not a racist country,” countering leftists’ claims that it is.

“I know the majority of people aren’t racist, and I had more faith that people wouldn’t vote for such a blatantly ‘racist’ person,” she said, referring to how mainstream media tended to portray President Trump.

Ms. Rose started seeking unfiltered sources of information. She began following President Trump’s Twitter account and listening to his public speeches.

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People in the crowd cheer as former President Donald Trump arrives on stage during a rally campaigning in support of Republican candidates in Anchorage, Alaska, on July 9, 2022. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

She started to see a pattern. After watching one of President Trump’s speeches, Ms. Rose would see leftists and news media outlets “completely, like, twist his words,” she said.

Ms. Rose said she thinks other black people have started to similarly inform themselves.

“I think Trump has overcome a lot of what has happened to him, and I really believe a lot more people are with him now, more than ever, especially black folks,” she said.

Still, black Trump supporters can expect to be ostracized, Ms. Rose said, as she has been.

After revealing her pro-Trump stance, Ms. Rose said she lost many of her black friends; she has been called a “coon,” “an Uncle Tom,” and “the ‘N-word.’”

But the opposition from white liberals is the worst, she said, because “they’re just so condescending.”

She said they ask her: “How could you vote for someone that hates you? You know he hates your people, right?”

And they tell her: “You’re so dumb; you don’t know any better.”

“And I’ve basically had them telling me that, because I’m black, I’m obligated to be Democrat—and that I must hate myself because I’m black and I’m a Trump supporter,” Ms. Rose said.

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Attendees listen as President Donald Trump addresses young black conservative leaders from across the country as part of the 2018 Young Black Leadership Summit in the White House in Washington on Oct. 26, 2018. (Chris Kleponis – Pool/Getty Images)

Knowing they would face similar reactions for voicing support for President Trump, “a lot of black folks are still in hiding,” she said.

“They stay silent because they want to get invited to the barbecue,” she said. “If you are black and you support Trump, you really kind of get disowned—not just in your own family but also in the black community.”

Neither Biden nor Trump?

Marv Neal, a 52-year-old black man who hosts a weekly radio show on Boston’s “Urban Heat” radio station, 98.1 FM, agreed that black people are reluctant to admit they dislike President Joe Biden or his policies—and therefore might consider casting a ballot for President Trump.

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Marv Neal. (Courtesy of Marv Neal)

But Mr. Neal told The Epoch Times that he and others have been disenchanted with both major parties’ candidates.

This impression fits with findings of a new survey. A GenForward survey reported on Dec. 12 that about 20 percent to 25 percent of most minorities would have voted for “someone other than” President Trump or President Biden if the election had been held last month.

Mr. Neal, a registered Democrat, said, “Just because you’re a Democrat doesn’t mean you’re going to get my vote.”

He hasn’t always felt that way.

“I was raised Democrat and it was just like, everything was Democrat … you got to vote Democrat, Democrat, Democrat, Democrat,” he said.

But Mr. Neal said another black broadcaster at the same radio station, Larry Higginbottom, changed his perspective.

“Like Larry says: ‘Vote your interest or whoever speaks to your interest. It doesn’t matter if they’re Democrat or Republican.’”

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Voters cast their ballots at a polling location inside the Museum of Contemporary Art in Arlington, Va., on Nov. 8, 2022. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Thus far, President Biden’s policies seem to lack benefits for “average, everyday citizens,” Mr. Neal said.

Homeless shelters in Boston are “at capacity,” and legal residents can’t get the help they need because money is being spent to help immigrants and foreign nations, he said. Hotel rooms are being used to house immigrants, so the rates for any unused rooms have gone up for everyone else, he said.

Mr. Neal said he initially disliked President Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration. “I was like: ‘Why you have to act like that, man? Why can’t you just help these people?’”

But he said that now he sees that those border security policies benefited U.S. citizens.

Still, Mr. Neal doesn’t count himself a supporter of President Trump yet. He said he thinks the criminal charges against the former president are justified but that he and others don’t think President Trump will be held accountable, so the prosecutions are a huge waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

Ms. Rose, on the other hand, said she thinks the prosecutions of President Trump are politically motivated and that he’s being unfairly targeted.

As for Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into President Biden’s family’s allegedly profiting from millions of dollars in foreigners’ money, Mr. Neal isn’t troubled much by that. “I believe that’s a part of the culture,” Mr. Neal said. Politicians “do favors for each other … it’s part of the game that they play,” he said.

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A homeless person sleeps on a street corner in downtown Austin, Texas, on Dec. 18, 2023. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

But Mr. LeVell, President Trump’s diversity coordinator, said he senses that people are starting to suspect that President Biden is “compromised.”

Mr. LeVell said black people compare their situation with President Biden’s. “They say, ‘Dang, I’m sitting here struggling, but this dude’s wheelin’ and dealin’—and his whole family is profiting,’” Mr. LeVell said.

Meanwhile, more information is coming out to counter “the narrative” that black people have been fed about President Trump, Mr. LeVell said.

Mr. LeVell, an unpaid volunteer, rattles off numerous policies President Trump enacted to boost black employment, business ownership, and historically black colleges and universities.

Those are among the policies that Mr. Fisher, the BLM activist, cited when he announced his endorsement.

But Mr. LeVell said it has taken a while to hammer home these points to black people who have been steeped in distorted portrayals of President Trump: “A lot of times, the band plays so loud that you can’t really hear the message.”

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President Donald Trump prepares for a group photo with leaders of historically black universities and colleges in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Feb. 27, 2017. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)

Record-Shattering Turnout?

President Biden still holds sway with many black voters in part because he served as vice president under the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama. And President Biden’s second-in-command is a black woman, Vice President Kamala Harris.

In addition, “black voters are the most consistently Democratic-leaning constituency” among voters of all racial backgrounds, according to Catalist, a Washington-based firm that says it provides data on millions of voting-age people exclusively “to Democrats and progressives.”

Black people, who make up about 13 percent of registered voters, voted 88 percent for Democrat congressional candidates in 2022. That number shows Democrats still enjoy overwhelming support from black people. But it’s also 3 percent lower than in 2020, according to Catalist.

Several Democrat strategists have said they have been seeing warning signals that President Biden’s support is slipping dramatically among people who aren’t white.

Because of these indicators and the “pulse” he senses among fellow black people, Mr. LeVell is making a bold prediction for the 2024 election.

“I say this next year will just be record-shattering,” he said, anticipating that 44 percent of black people will support the former president. “It will just leave people’s jaws dropped to the ground to see the numbers of black people that will run to the polls and vote for Donald John Trump.”

That figure raised eyebrows after President Trump mentioned it during an Oct. 11 speech in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Pollster Rich Baris, known as “The People’s Pundit,” said he thinks Mr. LeVell’s projection is overly optimistic.

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New Georgia Project canvasser Mardie Hill (R) speaks to a resident about the upcoming primary election in East Point, Ga., on May 23, 2022. (Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr. Baris’s Big Data Poll and Emerson College’s poll both found black support for President Trump sitting at 19 percent.

Still, Mr. LeVell said he doesn’t think that goal is unrealistic, based on President Trump’s past gains with black voters.

And it’s true that “persuadable” nonwhite people could play an outsized role in deciding the winner of the 2024 election, Mr. Baris said, considering that white people who support President Biden and President Trump remain firmly entrenched “in their respective camps.”

Changing Views, Votes

Seven years ago, a few months into his first presidential run, polls showed that then-candidate Donald Trump was drawing support from only about 1 percent of black people.

By the time Mr. Trump won the presidency in 2016, he had secured 6 percent of that bloc.

When he ran for reelection in 2020, President Trump tallied about 12 percent of that demographic.

This summer, the Messenger/Harris poll got a lot of attention when it reported that President Trump drew 25 percent of the black vote in a hypothetical rematch against President Biden.

That’s more than double President Trump’s 2020 support but far short of the 44 percent that Mr. LeVell would like to see in 2024. Still, if the yearslong trend in rising black support continues, President Trump could garner even more black votes than the 25 percent in that poll.

Mr. LeVell said he thinks all of President Trump’s minority-support ratings would be higher “if he had been treated fairly, in terms of just letting the information flow freely” in the public arena.

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Supporters of former President Donald Trump await his arrival at a rally for Ohio Republicans at the Dayton International Airport in Vandalia, Ohio, on Nov. 7, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

But now, he says: “Thank God we’re finally getting around all the blocking of the cable news and the social media networks … It’s kind of like the sea is opening up.”

Still, many black people remain unaware that “President Trump came to the South in the fall of 2020 and delivered a half-a-trillion dollars’ worth of resources to the black community” as part of “The Platinum Plan,” Mr. LeVell said.

That plan involved job creation and criminal justice reform, but it wasn’t fully implemented because President Trump left office in 2021.

‘Railroaded’

Today, many black Americans still see the need for such changes, according to “Silk,” of the famous pro-Trump duo “Diamond and Silk.”

Ironically, the prosecutions of the former president on a total of 91 criminal charges underscore the need for criminal justice reform, Silk, whose real name is Herneitha Richardson, told The Epoch Times.

“Pinning all of these different charges on one man to see which one sticks is the norm within the black community,” she said.

“The same biased, racist system that is trying to railroad him is the same biased, racist system that railroaded them.”

As the former president headed toward Atlanta’s Fulton County Jail to have his mug shot taken on Aug. 24, videos circulated on social media showing black people cheering for the former president as his motorcade passed. Some shouted, “Free Trump!”

Similar sentiments echoed across social media.

“Trump is a ‘brother’ now. I’m sorry; you go to jail in Zone 6, Atlanta, you’re a ‘brother,’” one unidentified black man declared in video footage posted on X.

At the time of President Trump’s Atlanta jail appearance, a few anti-Trump protesters, some of whom were black, showed up, along with a larger number of people who came to show support for the former president.

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Trump stickers featuring his mug shot are displayed for sale at the Y-Que shop in Los Angeles on Aug. 30, 2023. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

In interviews with The Epoch Times, a handful of black people in Atlanta’s suburbs said some were more inclined to consider casting a ballot for President Trump. Others remain firmly in the “never Trump” category.

In May 2020, about a quarter of black people agreed with then-candidate Joe Biden’s controversial statement that “you ain’t black,” if you’re a black voter who votes for President Trump over him, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll.

The Democratic presidential candidate also attributed his South Carolina primary election win that year to black voters’ support. That victory “revitalized his sinking candidacy,” Rasmussen said.

But since then, a Democratic pollster, Terrance Woodbury, has been warning that President Trump and other Republicans are seeing payoffs from their efforts to woo black voters.

“This is not unique to Joe Biden … It’s a problem that Democrats have been facing up and down the ballot; that Republicans have been making a play for black votes, and it’s been effective,” Mr. Woodbury said during the FiveThirtyEight politics podcast on Sept. 11.

“The reason I think that Trump is appealing to these voters … is because a message of how the system is broken appeals to people that are closest to the pain,” Mr. Woodbury said.

“And that’s Trump’s message—that the system is broken; drain ‘the swamp’; the problem is politics and politicians.”

He noted that President Obama also campaigned on a promise to reform the system. But President Obama and President Trump had very different visions of how to “fix” it, Mr. Woodbury said.

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A man who has lived on Skid Row since the 1970s serves a homeless customer from his sidewalk store that stays open all night in Los Angeles on May 1, 2017. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Now, “’defending democracy’ is one of the leading messages” among Democrats, he said. “That’s tough to mobilize voters on ‘defending democracy.’”

On Sept. 25, Morning Consult published a survey that found that “the share of Black voters who said they think the Democratic Party cares about people like them has fallen from 71 percent to 64 percent since 2016.”

“Coupled with Trump’s heightened standing … the figures show a troubling predicament for the incumbent president in particular—and for his party, which has long tried to associate itself with the average American,” Morning Consult stated.

Bucking Tradition

Black people who supported President Trump early in his political career saw qualities in him that they say others are just now starting to notice.

Long before he decided to run for president, Donald Trump was a household name. Many Americans felt like they “knew” him because of his prominence as a New York businessman and as the star of “The Apprentice” and “The Celebrity Apprentice” on TV.

In 2015, Silk said that she and her sister, Diamond (Ineitha Hardaway), who died in January, were the first prominent black women who openly supported then-candidate Trump, “when it wasn’t popular to do so.”

She said they liked his plainspokenness and conservative policies.

The two women, who became fixtures on Fox News for a time, urged people to get on “The Trump Train,” and to “Stump for Trump.”

Silk said they broke free from the mold.

Now people “of every race, creed, and color are able to compare Trump’s America to Biden’s America,” Silk said. She said she thinks they plainly see that “Trump represents prosperity; Biden represents poverty.”

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(L–R) Social media personalities Ineitha Hardaway, who died in January, and Herneitha Richardson, otherwise known as Diamond and Silk, sit next to President Donald Trump during a meeting with African-American leaders in the White House in Washington on Feb. 27, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s a great joy in seeing the black community going from ‘woke’ to awake,” she said.

For years, many black voters resisted listening to the billionaire-turned-politician, Mr. LeVell said, because the Democratic Party “machine” has been successful in cultivating loyalty among black voters.

Democrats fund a lot of black churches and civic groups, and the party’s politicians “come back every four years and ask for that vote again,” Mr. LeVell said.

At a Michigan rally during the summer of 2016, then-candidate Trump suggested that Democrat-voting black people ought to vote for him instead, asking: “What the hell do you have to lose?”

That remark stands out in Mr. LeVell’s memory. To him, it was a seminal moment.

“No leader had just really spoken very freely and candidly, straight to black culture … and said: ‘Look at the situation in your communities. Look at your streets. Look at your schools. Why keep voting the same way? Try something different,’” Mr. LeVell said.

“That’s a fair ask. And it looks like we’re starting to see that happen more and more.”

Dan M. Berger contributed to this report.

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