The event was part of Cala-bash – Claflin’s Arts & Letters Bash. Rye is also is a prominent political strategist who offers regular on-air commentary for several media outlets including BET, CNN, MSNBC, and TV One.
“In November this country elected a president – Donald Trump — who is very irresponsible with his words. This is the same man who challenged President’s Barak Obama’s citizenship because his mother was white and he had a Kenyan father,” said Rye. “He was very successful in “otherizing” President Obama by challenging if he had graduated from Harvard and if he was a U.S. citizen. He repeatedly asked to see a copy of his degree and President Obama’s birth certificate.”
Rye admitted that she is still trying to make sense out of the election and that she sees “the crazy everywhere.” She referenced the Tea Party as a group that follows Trump’s use of inflammatory and irresponsible messages and actions.
“The Tea Party’s main job within the Republican Party was to oppose the Affordable Healthcare Act known as Obama Care. Several CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) members had bad experiences with these Tea Party folks,” said Rye. “As they entered the Capitol to vote, they were verbally attacked and called names. This included Congressman John Lewis who was beaten and risked his life while marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., so that we could have the right to vote. ‘It’s time to take our country back,’ they said after the election of our first black president. Again, that’s the power of words,” said Rye.
Rye currently serves on the boards of the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, the Seattle University School of Law Alumni, Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network, and she is a senior advisor to the Government Technology and Services Coalition. Rye is also a member of the National Bar Association, American Bar Association, and the Washington Government Relations Group. Rye served as the executive director and general counsel to the Congressional Black Caucus for the 112th Congress. In her role as executive director, Rye was tasked with developing the overall legislative and political strategy for the Caucus. Prior to working for the CBC, she served as senior advisor and counsel to the House Committee on Homeland Security under the leadership of Congressman Bennie G. Thompson. Upon moving to the nation’s capital, Rye co-founded IMPACT, an organization that also seeks to encourage young professionals in three core areas: economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement. Rye is a graduate of the University of Washington and the Seattle University School of Law.
“Each time I speak, it has to be more than just another speech,” said Rye. “It has to be a call to action for everyone. But we cannot do it alone. You are at an HBCU which is a unique environment. You are in an incubator which allows you to think, share ideas and prepare yourself for the real world where you can take action in your communities. The struggle is real. But we are in this fight together.”
Rye’s spoke later in the day at a community forum at the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center where “she encouraged the audience to stay engaged and stay informed.
“She had a great message,” said Dr. Caroletta Ivey, assistant professor of criminal justice at Claflin who attended the forum. “In addition encouraging the audience to vote, she told the crowd that having your voter registration card and voting is not enough. Rye appealed to members of the younger generation in attendance to become activists, take a stand and be heard — because they are the leaders of the future.”