Editor’s note: Below are the video and transcript of remarks given by Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens upon receiving the Annie Taylor Award at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2018 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 15th-18th at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida.
Joshua Thifault: Good evening. My name is Joshua Thifault, and I’ve been with Turning Point USA since 2014. Tonight I have the honor of introducing the two most impactful conservative activists of 2018.
Charlie Kirk started Turning Point USA in his garage back in 2012. Today he empowers students to stand for American values on 1,300 high school and college campuses across the country. Charlie is a close friend of President Trump and appears on national television almost every day.
Candace Owens changed politics forever, reaching black America with a conservative message in ways never before seen. The conservative movement always talks about breaking into A‑list celebrity culture, and Candace actually did it. So, thank you very much. She founded the Blexit movement and currently serves as Turning Point USA’s director of communications.
So, without further ado, I give you the 2018 Annie Taylor Award recipients: Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens.
Charlie Kirk: I’d like to thank the academy for this great honor. No, I’m kidding. David, 5 years ago, I walked through that door. I was 19 years old, met a lot of people in this room for the first time, and I was talking about this great idea to try to change culture through our college campuses. And David’s different. I went into a lot of rooms like that. Many people told me to get lost, and David told me to get busy because, he said, “My friends are your friends.“ This is different, folks. You don’t see that every day. Most of the people in the movement are trying to guard their own, “You’re not welcome here”; but because of David Horowitz allowing the kind of collaboration and synergy that occurred, Turning Point USA is able to exist at the strength and the reach we have. So, David, seriously, thank you.
Before I give it off to the real star of the show, I want to thank a couple other people that made Turning Point USA’s journey possible, my journey possible, and Candace’s. The first, of course, is someone who I met that first night, Rebecca Dunn. From the first time we met, your whole family believed generously what we were doing. And, of course, I couldn’t forget Jim Young and Larry Keith, from Oregon. The same could go for you. But I would be remiss not to tell a short story for the person who dragged me here in the first place, she has a tendency to do that; of course, Allie Hanley. And we all miss somebody else. I want to dedicate a couple thoughts to him. I was told about Donald Trump well before Donald Trump ran for president. I was sitting in a living room, here in Palm Beach, at the Hanley residence with Pat Caddell and Lee Hanley. And Lee, in the fashion only Lee could, said, “Charlie, there’s going to be someone that will barnstorm onto the national political stage in a way that we could never anticipate….Let’s call this guy Mr. Smith.“ For those of you that might have heard this too, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And he predicted the entire wave election with Pat Caddell. He said, “It’s going to be someone who hates the establishment, hates Washington, D.C., smashes political correctness, and will probably be a businessman. This is well before anyone took Donald Trump seriously. And Lee is not with us today, but he’s definitely with us because there’s so many people in this room, from Ann all across the room, that really got to know Lee as the political thinker and activist that he was. He’s a long-time sponsor of the center and this conference; and so, Allie, from the bottom of my heart, we miss Lee, and thank you for all that you’ve done for everyone in this room. Thank you.
And so, a year ago, I said to myself, “Boy, I love the way Candace Owens thinks.“ And a lot of you remember this – happened exactly a year ago – Candace came up to me and said, “I want to lead the black revolution against the Democrat Party. By the way, my name is Candace Owens.“ And I said, “How would you like to do it together at Turning Point USA?“ And it’s been a year; and, because of this woman right here, black approval of Donald Trump is now at 40 percent. Because of this woman here, you see all Americans, but especially black Americans, leaving the monolith of the Democrat Party every single day.
So, I’ve got to tell some short stories about Candace. She’s not going to like me doing this, but I’m going to do it anyway. So, after we hired Candace, here at the David Horowitz Freedom Center–I’ve got to thank David for bringing this wonderful talent to this conference–that I realized that she works all the time, doesn’t really sleep, and is never satisfied with the status quo. So, she fit in perfectly at Turning Point USA, it’s exactly what we like. And so, I’ll tell you one quick story. We were speaking at UCLA, and it was kind of a mess. In fact, we’re the only conservative deal to speak at UCLA, UC Berkeley and Stanford and live to tell about it within the course of a semester. Sorry, Milo. We didn’t burn the whole place down. We couldn’t follow in your footsteps there.
And Candace confronted these Black Lives Matter protesters that were trying to tell her that she didn’t know what it was like to be a black person in America. Big mistake. In fact, I think they called you a “white supremacist”. I still don’t know how that one works. And a clip of Candace encountering these Black Lives Matter protesters went totally viral, and a couple days later, none other than Kanye West tweeted out, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks,” and the whole Internet blows up. And the way Candace handled that was so brilliant because, throughout the whole course of it, she said, “This is a good start.”, and most people, that would just be the pinnacle and that would be it. And she kept working and working; and, from that, we had our Young Black Leadership Summit and all these amazing events that we were able to do from it.
Then Candace and I, around late July, decided to get breakfast in Philadelphia. That was the first mistake that we made. And we were interrupted by none other than 50 Antifa protesters who decided to make an example out of us. So, they walk into this breakfast place in Philadelphia calling Candace a Nazi and myself a white supremacist, and the whole thing goes viral. They threw water on me.
And so, we go to New York City, we do a string of interviews, and Candace stayed there for the next day. We were up at 3:30 in the morning. I think we interviewed to do this in the morning, Brian. Candace did unbelievable amount of media for 18 hours on 2 hours of sleep; and I remember I got a text from her at 10:00 p.m., just two words: “No naps.“ And that’s the story right there, is that no one will outwork us.
And the final story I’ll tell you is this: We have an unbelievable president, as Sebastian Gorka mentioned, and we would be remiss not to thank him for giving our movement a platform over the last year. He generously invited the largest ever Young Conservative Black Leadership Summit, that Candace helped orchestrate and Turning Point USA helped plan, into the East Room of the White House, the largest of such event. He generously invited us into the Oval Office to meet with us out of his own personal time to figure out how he could help the youth movement of this country; and it’s given a platform that has really helped grow our movement. And I can’t think of anyone else except Candace Owens who could go from hanging out with Kanye West to sitting in the Oval Office of the President of the United States; and I can honestly say one of the greatest honors of my life in this short term in politics has been getting to know Candace and work beside her, and all of you saw that happen a year ago. So, let’s give it up for Candace. Love to hear a couple words. So, thank you, guys.
Candace Owens: Thank you, guys. Oh, you’re so kind. You didn’t have to get up again. Thank you so much.
Wow. It has definitely been a really long year, and I will say that last year, this was the single most important event that I had attended. I was a newbie, definitely, at that time – definitively the most irrelevant person here that David Horowitz had invited. Nobody knew who I was, and I was so excited and so anxious and so nervous to meet everyone. I remember the opening evening, walking in and seeing Ann Coulter, and I almost just freaked out; and you were so kind and so gracious, and I was a nobody, and she followed me on Twitter, and I fangirled; and, Ann, seriously, the quiet kindness that you have showed me behind closed doors, you have no idea how much it meant to me as someone that was new, that was going through a lot. The advice that you gave me, I mean, you are a legend, and I am so grateful for you, and I know everyone in this room is, as well.
The nerves that I had weren’t exactly because I was scared to speak in public. That’s something that I do very confidently. I’ve been confident since I came out of the womb, and I’ve been quite defiant since I came out of the womb, but I was nervous because I had this elevator pitch that I was working on, which Charlie just told you; and I needed someone in this room and at this conference to believe in me and to believe that it could be done. And I didn’t know it, but that elevator pitch was something that I was working on for almost all of my life.
The left never likes to tell the true story about me. And the true story is not that I am a Nazi sympathizer, that I’m alt‑right, or that I’m a white supremacist, or that I’m a future leader of the KKK – they’ve got it wrong – but because the true story sort of disrupts their narrative about me. As a young girl, I grew up in poverty, and I saw these things firsthand: drugs, alcohol, I grew up in an abusive home, and to grow up in that environment and in a low‑income housing structure, and sharing a tight little room, and having the exterminator have to come every week to take care of roaches. That’s the way that I grew up. And so, I’ve seen these things firsthand.
And, as a little girl trying to escape my life, the only thing that I had were books, and I would read, and I would read, and I would read giant books that were bigger than me. When I was 7 years old, 8 years old, I was reading Nora Roberts and Dean Koontz and really wrapping myself up in their worlds and their fantasies. And it wasn’t the protagonist or the antagonist of the novels that I wanted to be like. It was the authors. It was the idea that you could put something in prose and that you could sell an idea so beautifully and so brilliantly; that people would read it and get swept away and feel better for it. And, years later, I finally figured out what it was that I was going to be the author of.
And it came to me in a moment when a guy that no one was expecting came down the escalator and sort of woke me up from this reverie that I was living in – a reverie that I believed – that Republicans were racist. Definitely I thought Ann Coulter was racist for so long in my life. And to have reality just sort of smack me in the face and realize I had been sold a lie, I knew that I needed someone to believe in my pitch that, in my heart of hearts, because so much of my life had been a lie, that I was the person picked to lead, as I said to Charlie that day, the black revolution against the Democrat Party. And that is exactly how the conversation went, and he was crazy enough to believe in me and to take a chance in me.
We have had one of the longest years. I don’t think we would trade it for the world. Maybe that breakfast we wouldn’t have done, but we’ve had an amazing year. And there are so many people in this year that I could go around and I could thank for believing in us, and when the chips were down, for stepping up and for helping us. And really, this is just the prologue. And in the same way that I had that elevator pitch, now, today, I know in my heart that the next step of this is Blexit, the black exit from the Democrat Party. Thank you.
I firmly believe, and Charlie agrees, that the greatest untapped resource in America is the black community. There is no community that has been more lied to, more abused, or more used by the left than the black community. And, if we all believe in the vision that I have – 20‑20 vision, 20 by 20, that we can move the black vote 20 points by 2020 because that’s all it takes, Democrats need more than 85 percent of the black vote to sustain their party – then we can secure the future of this country.
So, I want to, again, thank everybody in this room for believing in me, and I promise you that, in this next chapter, I will work even harder because I believe in all of the other black little girls that are growing up with no hope, that deserve a different version of events, and to deserve to believe in their future in the way that I believe in mine now. Thank you guys so much.
David Horowitz: I want to just give you a little historical perspective. This did not happen by accident. You may have noticed in the film of the award winners, there was another young guerilla warrior, James O’Keefe, who is here tonight.
When I came out of the left, I looked around, and I looked at the conservative side. I said to myself, “Where is the ground war? Where is the student movement?” because I had watched through the ‘60s, as I was part of, of course, the new left. The new left, they blew up the Democratic Convention in 1968, and they marched into the party, and they are the party now. And that’s how the Democratic Party moved so far to the left when there was nothing on the conservative side.
And, when I spoke, one of my first speeches was at the University of Minnesota, and the conservative kids I met with, they were like mice. They were totally bewildered, had no idea that we were in a war, which we have been now for a long time, no idea where the left was coming from, very polite, very shy. To my eyes, I thought it was all over for us. What I longed for was a conservative student organization that would have left-wing slogans like, “Late to bed, early to rise, fight like hell, or organize.“ That’s Charlie’s motto for Turning Points USA. So, I was always looking for these people, and a lot of them were looking at me because they knew my history and saw my style.
I think I first came across with the Rubin Report – maybe that’s where I first saw you – but I saw Candace had a, it’s called red pill black, on YouTube. And here was somebody who was right in your face. I mean, this is one thing: Republicans and conservatives, they’re so polite and deferential. You’re not going to win a war that way. And there was this young woman just blasting away at the hypocrisy. And for 20 years or 30 years, I had said the Achilles heel of the Democratic Party is that the Democratic Party pretends to be the party of civil rights and liberation and whatever, and they control every major inner city in America and have for 50 to 100 years. Everything that’s wrong with the inner cities, the fact that they’re killing fields, the poverty, the out‑of-wedlock births, the schools that year in – and what an atrocity – year in and year out, and now we’re talking of 20 years, 40 percent of the kids drop out, never graduate, and 40 percent of those who do graduate are functionally illiterate. This is an atrocity. Republicans never mention it.
So, when I got Candace’s phone number and talked to her, the first thing I said is, “I have been waiting for 30 years for someone like you to come along”, because I realize that right person can’t do it. So, to me, you’re sort of born an optimist, but my optimism is in people like Candace and Charlie and James O’Keefe. The younger generation is a very different conservative generation. They know how to fight, and they’re fearless. That’s very important. You can’t duck when they call you a racist. You have to go right back in their face. I mean that Candace called the Black Lives Matter people who were protesting her whiners and fakers because they’re pretending to be oppressed when they’re actually quite privileged and have never experienced segregation and so forth.
Anyway, so, this is a great evening for me, too. I’m very satisfied. And, at my age, I have to look what’s coming next, anyway, and thank you all for coming and supporting this.