Birds of a feather might stick together, but they aren’t inviting artist-activist Lloyd Marcus to their dinner parties. At least most of the blackbirds won’t anytime soon.
Marcus is an anomaly as an artist and an enigmatic political mover. A creative African-American with a distaste for the current, ethnic-tagging craze, Marcus calls himself “a proud, unhyphenated American.”
With apologies, I only mention skin tone because it’s the bear that pushed Marcus into the racially charged circus liberals devised for him. Rather than performing their old dog and pony tricks, though, Marcus had the audacity to become a (gasp) Republican activist. Worse yet he’s now a public face, speaker and voice for the national tea-party political group.
How did a nice boy from Baltimore end up in a place like Providence, R.I., singing “Dance with the Devil” and speaking to someone named Mr. Constitution in the rain?
Marcus shares his childhood and coming of political and philosophical age in his blogs and book “Confessions of a Black Conservative.” A stable, traditional African-American home left him identifying with his people but even more with his nation and Christianity. From his childhood in the slums he saw liberalism “enslave, control” and ultimately destroy instead of help. These thoughts have not exactly endeared him to a host of people, especially those Formerly Known as Journalists.
He felt the first blows of public rejection in an uproar related to his paintings, but Marcus has had many opportunities to get used to it since then. After studying at the Maryland Institute College of Art, he made a living as a graphic designer, artist, singer and performer for years before plunging into politics.
In 2006 Marcus contributed paintings for a show to be hung in the Deltona, Fla., City Hall celebrating Black History Month. Considering that he was indeed black and was relating his family’s personal history, there should have been no problem, right? Wrong.
Paintings from his “Storefront” series depicted activities by his father, a neighborhood pastor, in a warm family atmosphere. Charming and colorful with a touch of naivety, they still contained verboten objects such as a shocking glimpse of a clerical collar.
Another painting depicts the most widely read and published book on earth, but that didn’t pull any rank with the Deltona city manager. The Bible and other religious symbolism, although clearly in context of his childhood, were declared to be dangerously unconstitutional and removed.
This ticked Marcus off, and he wasn’t the only one. Hundreds rallied around him with the news of the absurd once again launching into America’s airwaves. This time having outdone themselves, the city’s action attracted an international audience of head scratchers waiting to see what would happen next.
I’d like to say they worked it out like reasonable creatures, but these are public bureaucrats who have issues with the First Amendment and anyone who believes in it. Lots of sneering letters and an expensive, federal lawsuit by Liberty Counsel, a law firm specializing in church-state issues, followed. Eventually Marcus was allowed to publicly show his art alongside the more religion-challenged paintings.
The political correctness he had perceived up to then suddenly became personal. It was an epiphany for Marcus, as he realized how far the rod of oppression actually reached in the U.S. It’s now his war, and he’s enlisted for the duration.
Ironically the threat of Obama’s looming election, rather than personal insults, drove Marcus to full-time activism. He had earlier changed direction toward composing and recording songs and now offers his services to tea partiers when he has the chance. Crowds love him, and he’s been extremely popular as a serious speaker and entertainer with a strong stage presence and appeal.
The “Tea Party Anthem” was written and recorded by Marcus, and it’s played at many of their gatherings. He now has five albums of different types, ranging from love songs, to gospel and patriotic and political anthems, many of his own composition. He’s serious about his work and describes conservatism as compassionate and the true path to the American dream.
Marcus claims that the arts should be “extremely important” to the conservative movement. He encourages Republicans and conservatives to enlist in a war of creativity against the left’s “brain-dead, nonsensical” viewpoints. He and his wife Mary have run the Deltona Arts and Historical Center in Florida for several years, where they encourage artists and performers in their craft.
Why does Marcus dislike Obama so much that he would drop everything in his life to professionally oppose him through art, music and speech?
Let him count the ways.
He claims the Obama administration is “exploiting race” to further an arrogant, lawless, socialist/communist agenda. Marcus also takes aim at the liberal “mainstream media minions,” whom he sees as colluding and helping to create a climate of racial division, hatred and fear.
The speaker’s adjectives when describing the sitting president are strong: “evil; tyrannical; not nice; hypocrite; liar; unjust; racist; polarizing; horrifying and shameless” are a few. He expects the administration to be unscrupulous with political enemies, having experienced it himself.
Marcus warns, “They are going to fire both barrels, at point blank range, at every opportunity.”
Declarations like this make Marcus a “human lightning rod” for political, cultural and religious controversy, but he’s taking it in stride. He laughs at accusations of “hate” and “racism” lobbed from the left. Marcus describes some of the reporters and cameramen sent to cover tea-party events who are hostile and rude with faces like “vampires who had just been shown a cross.”
His work also put him at odds with his own family and extended groups of friends, including his pastor father who still admires and supports Obama. He’s earned many enemies in the Black Caucus.
Caucus member Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., said (with a straight face), “The real enemy is the tea party. The tea party holds Congress hostage.”
Now I imagine floods of people will turn up at tea-party meetings hoping to see how they accomplish this hostage holding. It’s probably some mystical ceremony after the Pledge of Allegiance.
Standing against tides of public vitriol, Marcus reminds me a bit of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). Although liberals claim anyone of worth for their own, Twain stood squarely against the “politically correct” forces of his time. Raised in the South, he opposed slavery and racism in novels and with caustic commentary. Considered barbaric and uncouth by “intellectuals,” Twain still appealed to morality, human decency and universal rights.
Twain, speaking of slavery in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” wrote, “That strange thing, the conscience – the unerring monitor – can be trained to approve any wild thing you want it to approve if you begin its education early and stick to it.”
Marcus declares, “I cannot relate to a black, Hispanic, or whoever agenda. We are all human beings – brothers and sisters, that is the true American agenda.”
I suspect that if Twain were alive and writing today, he’d create someone a little like Lloyd Marcus in his novels to take on the bad guys – a truly unique “character” in every good sense of the word.