Jackson attended Southern Methodist University, where he majored in engineering, but soon after graduation he switched to sales and business consulting, including a one-year stint as a venture capitalist in China. He moved to St. Louis in 2002 and settled into the brick row house where he still lives, on the eastern edge of Compton Heights. ("I should've bought in Lafayette Square," he says ruefully.)

Along the way he married twice and divorced twice, fathering four sons who range in age from four to twenty-one. (Aside from giving their ages, he refuses to discuss them in interviews.) And he earned enough to be able to sink $300,000 of his own money into self-publishing his book and traveling around the country for unpaid speaking engagements.

Chapter 3: Join the Tea Party
If Jackson had wanted to advance in the Republican Party, right now he'd probably be stuffing envelopes, hosting fundraisers and begging party leaders to give him a few thousand dollars to help bring in the black vote. As it happens he has yet to donate any money to the party, and local party leaders have no idea who he is. ("If I saw him, I might recognize his face," offers Jerry Hunter, a partner at Bryan Cave and, for the past 40 years, one of the leading black Republicans in Missouri.)

Bob Dole, founder of the Dole Institute where, sadly, his Viagra ads are not on display.
Bob Dole, founder of the Dole Institute where, sadly, his Viagra ads are not on display.

Not that the Republican Party is all that interested in bringing in the black vote. "African Americans vote overwhelmingly Democrat, and there's no signs that that's going to change," says political statistician Nate Silver, the mastermind behind the blog FiveThirtyEight.

It's the Democrats who can't win without the blacks, affirms Michael Minta, a political-science professor at Washington University. "All the Republicans need to do is pull a certain percentage of blacks from the Democratic party to win."

Whatever the case, by the time Jackson started doing politics full time, he'd become disenchanted with the Republicans.

"The Republican Party — no offense — is not working," he explains. "The people I want to reach — youth and diversity — aren't listening. And the party machine says, 'If I can't control you, I won't get behind you.'"

The Tea Party, by contrast, was wide open, lacking a hierarchy or, for that matter, any formal structure. But unlike the Republicans, who'd begun to splinter, most Tea Party members were in accord.

"People forget that parties are coalitions," says Bill Lacy, a former member of the Reagan administration who now directs the University of Kansas' Dole Institute in Lawrence. "A coalition has to be people who are together on 70 to 80 percent of the issues. One thing that's fascinating about the Tea Party is that most members agree on 70 percent of the things. To be successful as a coalition, you have to get people of all races and creeds who agree on issues."

One of Jackson's earliest moments of national attention came in April 2009, when he published a blog post denouncing actress Janeane Garofalo, who had called the Tea Party racist.

"As a black man I love it when ignorant white women like Janeane Garofalo speak for all blacks," he wrote. "It's thrilling to me that Janeane would take time out of her busy Hollyweird life to protect me and my peeps, the downtrodden, the oppressed...the lowly Negro."

It was one of Jackson's first blog entries to be widely reposted on conservative websites in the United States and Canada.

And Garofalo's protests notwithstanding, Jackson had a point.

"There's not too many Tea Party-type black conservatives in the black community," Nate Silver allows. "But I don't think the Tea Party is racist. The Tea Partiers care more about ideas than appearances."

"President Bush and the Republicans who governed from 2001 to 2008 did not govern as conservatives," adds Lacy. "The [Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act] was the biggest entitlement since LBJ. A heavy deficit is not Republican. The Tea Party has risen up in reaction to that — the perception of the Tea Party versus the Establishment."

It made sense, then, that Kevin Jackson, with his disgust for the current Republican Party and his unwillingness to be a good soldier, fit right in.

"It's rich territory for anyone who wants to pursue it," says Jamie Allman, host of the conservative talk-radio show Allman in the Morning on KFTK (97.1 FM) — where since January Jackson has been a weekly guest. "That's the great thing about a grass-roots movement: There's still enough room for everyone to succeed and play a part."

Within a few months, Jackson attracted the attention of Gina Loudon, host of The Dr. Gina Show on KJSL (630 AM). Jackson says Loudon offered to be his publicist and edit The Big Black Lie. Though their partnership would end acrimoniously (Jackson claims Loudon was envious of his success and tried to sabotage his career; Loudon declines to comment), Jackson had found an ally to help him get noticed.

Their split hurt Jackson in St. Louis — he no longer considers himself part of the St. Louis Tea Party and rarely speaks at local rallies — but by then he'd made it to Glenn Beck and The O'Reilly Factor. And again, the fragmented nature of the national Tea Party worked in his favor: Groups in San Francisco and Houston didn't care about his beef with Loudon, as long as he was willing to come speak at their rallies.

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