It's not a typo: The South Central L.A. Tea Party exists, and Jesse Lee Peterson takes a bow for founding it. He's also president and founder of the 23-year-old black bootstraps group Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, or BOND, and serves as pastor for a nondenominational congregation at its headquarters. As his public pronouncements make clear, he detests Planned Parenthood and legal abortion, welfare and the California-born black holiday Kwanzaa. He used to hold a "national day of repudiation" against Jesse Jackson; he has his doubts about women in high places. He is in demand as a black voice in conservative media, and his voice was still a little scratchy back home in L.A. after yet another speaking gig in the East.
Why did you form BOND?
I realized most black Americans are suffering not because of racism but lack of moral character. We need to rebuild the [black] family. Fathers and mothers should get married before having children. They will turn away from the so-called black leadership — Jesse Jackson, NAACP, Urban League — and think for themselves, as they did prior to the civil rights movement. There's a problem when black children are born out of wedlock, with no shame, and you don't worry because the government will take care of them. In the entertainment industry, it's common — they do it like 90 going north, and proud of it.
"90 going north"?
When the slaves would sneak away from the plantation, they were going so fast we made a joke of it — they're doing 90 going north, trying to get away.
You were once a Democrat; what changed your mind?
I believed the lie that because I was black, I wasn't going to be able to make it because of the white man. When I came here [from his native Alabama], I was listening to people like Jackson and Louis Farrakhan — he used to come to the Forum in Inglewood. He talked about the blue-eyed devil, and I believed him. I started hating white people. You become like what you hate. My life went to hell. I ended up doing different kinds of drugs because I had so much guilt from the hatred. I ended up on welfare; they paid my rent, gave me food stamps, healthcare. But I got worse instead of better.
Once God changed my heart, I could no longer identify with the Democratic platform. It is anti-God, anti-family, anti-military, anti-anything that's good. I switched parties.
Yours may be the only black-led tea party group in California. Why did you start it?
Get breaking news alerts delivered to your mobile phone. Text BREAKING to 52669. You will receive up to 30 msgs/mo. Msg&data rates may apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.
I realized the tea party movement was being lied about to black people. They were saying it's a racist organization. That isn't true. I've spoken at rallies around the country. I know they're good folks. I want to educate blacks and Hispanics to what the tea party is about: less government, freedom, lower taxes, fewer regulations, God and country. The black community and part of the Hispanic community have been so brainwashed and dumbed-down and lied to, they don't tend to look for information for themselves.
It's been a little tough, but it's starting to change. We had a 2nd Amendment rally in Westwood last year and we had a load of folks show up.
Young black men kill others with guns at a devastating rate. How does the 2nd Amendment solve that?
Blacks killing each other in Chicago and Detroit — that has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment but everything to do with the destruction of the family. You could take away all the guns and they'll find something else to kill each other with. It's lack of family, lack of character.
Some tea party members split with the leadership over immigration reform. What's your take?
Amnesty for illegal aliens would be devastating to our country and especially the black community. At BOND, we help guys find jobs, and many do day labor and construction work. It was easier to get those jobs 23 years ago. It's nearly impossible now. Illegal aliens are able to do those jobs for little or nothing and many get paid under the table, so big businesses are for illegal aliens. And the Democratic Party is trying to get the Hispanic votes, that's why they want amnesty.
How well do you think the GOP is making its case to black voters?
Not at all. They're giving into the fear of being called racists. They're afraid of saying the wrong thing. I've always thought they should have town hall meetings in the community, leave the [black] leadership out of it. Let [blacks] see for themselves what the Republican Party is all about. But they're afraid to do that for fear of being called racist. They've really given up on the blacks.
You say it's hard to find black Americans who aren't angry and racist toward whites. Don't they have something to be angry about, like the enduring legacy of slavery?
None of them were enslaved. We did far better living and working, more united as families [50 years ago] than blacks are doing today.
What is your family's story?