South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, sitting at a news anchor desk alongside his four Black Republican friends and colleagues from Congress, confessed his grandmother was conservative.

“She may never (have) said the word conservative. She may never (have) voted conservative but everything she taught me was conservative,” he said on his new YouTube series called “America’s Starting Five,” aimed at dissecting the narrative peddled against Black Republicans, by the five elected Black Republicans in Congress.

The new series, featuring five-minute-long videos released weekly on Fridays, discusses “politics, race and the 2024 election” and attempts to reach Black voters who may be open to Republican ideas — amid speculation Scott could be former President Donald Trump’s pick for vice president.

I asked Utah Rep. Burgess Owens, a part of “America’s Starting Five,” whether the series name is a basketball reference. “I think it is?” he laughed, before admitting he doesn’t watch sports nowadays.

Owens said he loves the series because he thinks it gives Americans hope. “At the end of the day, the message is very simply this: If I can do it, you can do it,” he said.

Scott suggested the idea of filming the series to Owens months ago, and eventually fit it in with everyone’s schedules, the Utah congressman said.

He noted the members of the panel — with Scott, Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, Rep. John James of Michigan and Rep. Wesley Hunt of Texas — represent a litany of backgrounds.

Hunt, in the second episode, says he is a veteran, a husband, a father, an Apache pilot and a congressman, adding the color of his skin — “and I’m Black and I’m proud” — is down the list after a dozen other aspects that define him. “To marginalize who I am cheapens everything else that I’ve ever done in my entire life,” Hunt said.

James chimed in, saying, “And what is more insulting is we didn’t just show up here. It took 400 years of struggle and strife. ... You diminish the sacrifice of our ancestors when you put us in a box.”

During the episodes, the five congressmen react to viral media clips, like one where “The View” co-host Sunny Hostin says, “I feel like that’s an oxymoron, a Black Republican.”

Donalds acknowledged the show’s perspectives aren’t indicative of most people while saying that Hostin, and other left-leaning individuals, don’t want people to think about their politics outside their demographic or social status. Hunt added that “Black excellence” is often associated with liberalism. “So, that means, what we’ve done, it’s completely excluded from history.”

At one point, Hunt went around the table and pointed out the five congressmen, including himself, won over majority-white districts in states like Utah, South Carolina, Florida and Texas.

“How do we get here?” Hunt said. “I guess a lot of white people had to vote for us.” The lawmakers said they believe the country has evolved to judge a person based on their character and values instead of the color of their skin. At the moment, Congress is more racially diverse than ever before with roughly 11% Black members.

From left to right, Rep. John James, R-Mich., Rep. Burgess Owens, R-Utah, Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., filming a video series, “America’s Starting Five,” set to challenge what it means to be a Black Republican. | Office of Burgess Owens

Owens, in his interview with the Deseret News, said although the five lawmakers may not see eye to eye on all issues, they share a respectful friendship and a common background “that isn’t slavery,” but “achievement.”

Their pitch to voters arrives as Black voters, while still largely loyal to the Democratic Party, are reassessing their political leanings.

The 2016 exit polls found 8% of African Americans voted for Trump, and in 2020, this number rose to 12%. But a larger number of Black voters say they are disillusioned with President Joe Biden right now. According to the latest Wall Street Journal poll, around 30% of voters from this demographic said they will definitely or most likely support Trump in 2024.

The group dissected a remark made by Biden during a 2020 interview with radio host Charlamagne tha God where the president insinuated Black Americans who won’t vote for him “ain’t really Black.”

“The good news is in 2024, looks like 4 out of 10 of us ain’t Black enough for Joe Biden,” said Scott, in the first episode, who suspended his five-month-long presidential campaign in November.

During his campaign, he talked openly about his identity while saying he was trying to “disrupt” the mainstream conversation around race.

“Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every rung of the ladder that helped me climb,” he said in his campaign launch speech, in May last year.

“When I cut your taxes, they called me a prop. When I re-funded the police, they called me a token. When I pushed back on President Biden, they even called me the N-word,” he said. “I disrupt their narrative. I threaten their control. The truth of my life disrupts their lies!”

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott speaks at an Orrin G. Hatch Foundation symposium at Zions Bank Founders Room in Salt Lake City on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021. | Laura Seitz, Deseret News