Conservative Spotlight: Institute for Responsible Citizenship

For centuries, men of other races have tried to deprive black men of their manhood. Sometimes, members of an African tribe have tried to deprive men of another tribe of their manhood. Then, in the 1960s, just as it appeared that black men might achieve a rational equality under the law in America, the left accomplished what others could not: It destroyed the manhood of most black men in America. “That’s exactly right,” said William Keyes, president of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship (IRC). “I don’t know that the left was clever enough to plan it this way, but that has certainly been the effect.” He said that black women are not faring nearly as badly as black men. Black men and boys have extraordinarily high rates of failing out of school, of going to prison, of engaging in crime, of dying young, and of not heading families as the illegitimacy rate among African-Americans hits 70%. Inner-city black communities are heavily dependent on outsiders for help. American blacks have long been vanguards of social change as these same problems continue their long-term growth among Americans of other races, and particularly among men and boys. But IRC does not take comfort in the fact that, if trends continue, American whites will soon suffer from these problems in the same proportion as American blacks do now. Instead, it targets the most vulnerable population in our country and the one that most needs to step up and seize control of their lives, their families, and their communities: young minority men. “The American ideal is under constant attack, and precious few citizens are willing to stand up and defend it,” says IRC. “It is the purpose of the Institute for Responsible Citizenship to deal with this critical problem in our society by identifying young men who have the potential to become very successful in their chosen fields and prepare them to defend the American ideal. Each year, the institute will identify 12 of the most promising minority male college students in America and inspire and equip them to be defenders of liberty throughout their productive lives.” “We exclusively pursue high-achieving minority male students,” said Keyes. “We arrange full-time, high-level internships. Our students don’t make photocopies or run errands. It’s a highly selective program.” IRC offers eight-week internships that have students spend June and July in Washington, D.C., at places such as the Senate Budget Committee, the Senate Rules Committee, the Heritage Foundation, the Washington Legal Foundation, the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, HHS, and the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. Only college sophomores are eligible to apply, and they must spend two summers in a row in the program. They are housed at one of America’s most prestigious universities, Georgetown; take two academic courses; and have expenses paid plus a $2,500 stipend per summer. This past summer, the first in which IRC operated, the students met—all in one summer—with men such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Deputy Atty. Gen. Larry Thompson, economist and columnist Walter Williams, former Atty. Gen. Ed Meese, Sen. Don Nickles (R.-Okla.), and Rep. John Lewis (D.-Ga.). Students came from colleges such as Stanford, Williams, Georgia Tech, Morehouse, Florida A&M, and Cameron University (Okla.). IRC plans to have 12 new students a summer in the future but had ten for its first year. Nine of the ten were black and one was of Guamanian descent. “There are more black men of college age in prison than in college,” said Keyes. “It is especially critical to have black men who love their country and who understand what made this country great.” George Mason economics professor Thomas Rustici teaches the students economics, giving them “a solid grounding in free-market principles,” said Keyes. “The political science course teaches constitutional principles, but especially focuses on the Founding.” William B. Allen, political science professor at Michigan State and chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission under President Reagan, teaches that course. Conservative Sen. Nickles helped raise a good deal of the money for the program, said Keyes. “In our classes and all our other activities, we are constantly challenging the students with facts. After a while, they realize that government may not be their best friend after all.” Keyes said that grassroots efforts such as IRC are the way to turn minority communities around ideologically. “People seem to put too much hope in the Republican Party,” he said. “The right fails on many important public policy issues because we don’t have troops on the ground in minority communities. This program is our way of doing something about that.” IRC may be reached at 1227 25th St. N.W., Sixth Floor, Washington, D.C., 20037 (202-659-0581; fax: 202-659-0582; e-mail:; website: