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|Born||Leonard Francis McAllister, Jr.
January 13, 1972
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
McAllister was born Leonard Francis McAllister, Jr. on January 13, 1972 in Pittsburgh to parents Leonard, Sr. and Carol McAllister. Both he and his mother almost died during childbirth. McAllister grew up in the Penn Hills, a working-class suburb outside Pittsburgh. His father was a computer technician and an electrician for a local steel mill, and his mother ran a daycare out of the family home before her death in 2006.
McAllister endured a significant level of racism growing up in 1980s Pittsburgh including a story involving racial taunts to him as a pitcher during a youth baseball game. Growing up, McAllister's parents had him do weekly reading on African-American studies as a small youth, a trend that continued throughout his scholastic days as a way to combat racism and esteem-related issues.
Education and early adulthood
McAllister attended middle school at St. Bart's School, playing football and basketball. Always undersized, McAllister quarterbacked the school's 14-and-under football team to a championship as an 11-year-old. He then attended Central Catholic High School for a few years before leaving to take a scholarship to Shady Side Academy. McAllister graduated from Shady Side in 1989, earning scholarship offers to several universities.
In 1989, McAllister enrolled at Davidson College, on "the 13-year path to a four-year degree". McAllister was slated to walk-on the Davidson basketball team as a freshman but declined after coach Bobby Hussey left Davidson after the 1988–1989 school year. He was a pitcher on the baseball team. McAllister left school in 1992 for a sabbatical that lasted a decade. Before leaving that spring, McAllister contributed a piece on Black History Month to the school paper The Davidsonian, receiving numerous anonymous threats, including isolated death threats.
McAllister dropped out of college for a decade and became a father at age 21 with the first of his two children.
In 2000, McAllister re-enrolled at Davidson College, graduating with a history degree in 2002.
In 2005, McAllister ran for office in Davidson, North Carolina, losing as the only Republican against an all-Democrat slate by only 56 votes.
In 2007, McAllister ran and lost another close race, after McAllister was slated to win one of five seats in non-official polling.
In July 2008, McAllister was featured in a series of commercials on Black Entertainment Television regarding the upcoming election. Soon after, Fox Charlotte cast him as their political contributor during the 2008 campaign. McAllister provided live commentary during question-and-answer sessions and live editorials weekly on the "Fox News Rising" morning show, the Charlotte morning show.
McAllister attended the 2008 Republican National Convention representing Hip Hop Republicans, and provided commentary on CNN, Fox Charlotte, XM Radio, and BET, as well as webcasts on Washington Post and Fox. On CNN American Morning, he gave a critical view of the approach to the Governor Sarah Palin VP introduction to America, saying that her daughter’s pregnancy was an opportunity to make a connection to everyday Americans instead of trying to portray the Palins as perfect.
In March 2013 McAllister was a candidate in the Republican primary for Illinois's 2nd congressional district special election, but lost.
Writing and speaking presence
McAllister writes for several online magazines and blogs. He has also been published in the Charlotte Post, Newsweek, and The Dallas Morning News. McAllister usually represents the Republican point of view in his writings, but often writes from an Afro-centric perspective and has spoken out against racism in politics and society. McAllister was a featured speaker at several Tea Party protests across the nation throughout 2009.
- Hankins, Melissa (June 2009). "Get Right With Lenny". Charlotte Magazine. Retrieved July 1, 2009.