Donald Trump made a speech recently in an appeal to black voters.

I’ve noticed many pundits on both left and right treating this as a very unusual thing for a Republican to do (see this, for example). And here’s how one commenter on my blog described it:

Trump makes the best speech of the campaign, and is the one of the first, if not the first, Republican to reach out to the black community in 50 years, a brilliant move both substantively and strategically…

Let’s put aside for a moment the question of how much difference a speech can make, and treat the question of whether this sort of outreach in a speech is unusual for a Republican.

On what is that assertion based? Memory? But memory can play funny tricks; that’s why Google is our friend.

A very quick search reveals that both Mitt Romney and George Bush reached out in a similar way during campaigns, as did Rand Paul during the 2016 campaign (see this, this for excerpts, and this). I haven’t tried to research all the Republican presidents and candidates of the last 50 years, but just now I chose one and looked for “Gerald Ford speaks to black community.” Up came this:

In the months after he assumed the presidency, Ford actively presented his views on domestic policy, including civil rights and urban affairs, to African American organizations, including the National Baptist Convention, and at forums such as the White House Conference on Domestic and Economic Affairs. He used a 1975 speech at the NAACP national convention to talk about the adverse impact of the recession and inflation on low-income workers and the poor. He promised that his administration’s policy of fiscal restraint wouldn’t mean turning the country’s back on problems of employment, housing, education, transportation and health care…

Meanwhile, the president reached out to African American audiences to sell his policies. For example, his 1975 speech to the predominantly black National Newspaper Publishers Association addressed the economy, crime, taxes, unemployment and voting rights. “Blacks in our society have too often been mentally segregated by some thinkers and planners who acted as if blacks did not have the same expectations and problems as other Americans,” he said. “I promised at the very beginning of my administration to be president of all the people, and I am keeping that pledge. The administration will not slice off a small portion of the pie and say, ‘This is enough for the 25 millions of Americans who are black.’”

There’s a good deal more at the link; the whole thing is an excerpt from a book entitled Presidents and Black America: A Documentary History (can’t find it at Amazon, though), which might correct the record on misconceptions about a lot of presidents.

The truth about the GOP and the black community in recent years is that the perception of “Democrats good, GOP bad” by the black community has become entrenched and is probably not amenable to a speech.

The MSM has long been engaged in promoting the idea that Republicans ignore black people. It’s said often enough by the left that I don’t think the right needs to repeat the falsehood. And yet, the right has all too often accepted that characterization by the left without questioning it much.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]