Two newly elected Republican congressmen, both of them black, say they aim to fight socialism and extend the reach of conservatives after they are sworn in on Jan. 3. 

“I understand that we’re here together at this particular time in our country’s history for a reason. It is so we can make sure that we, the people, can pull back our country from this evil, dark abyss of socialism,” Rep.-elect Burgess Owens, R-Utah, a former pro football star, said Tuesday at The Heritage Foundation’s annual President’s Club meeting. 

Rep.-elect Byron Donalds, R-Fla., also addressed the President’s Club virtual event on Tuesday. 

The President’s Club meeting, held online because of the coronavirus pandemic, featured scholars and experts from The Heritage Foundation as well as leaders in the conservative movement, including Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., the newly elected chairman of the House’s Republican Study Committee.

Owens, 69, who played safety for the NFL’s New York Jets and Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders from 1973 to 1982, narrowly defeated freshman Democrat Ben McAdams. He will now represent Utah’s 4th Congressional District, incorporating portions of Juab, Salt Lake, Sanpete, and Utah counties.

Owens said that conservatives are talking about socialism more than ever and must continue to educate the public on its evils. 

But now we’re waking up, that we understand what’s going on. And now we understood what a great president President [Donald] Trump was for us and, hopefully, could still be. We don’t know. We need to fight for it. 

We cannot go back to sleep again and let the left continue to do what they do so well … with lies to undermine our system and divide us. We just cannot let that continue to happen.

Donalds, 42, whose 19th Congressional District incorporates Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples, and Marco Island, previously served in the Florida House of Representatives. He said a main goal of his will be to reach out and grow the conservative base. 

“Running for Congress was just as much …  about budget reform and paying down our debt, and health care reform and entitlement reform,” he said. 

But it was also about growing the party. In my view, you cannot have a governing majority if you don’t have a political majority. You can’t have a political majority if you’re not messaging … if you’re not going to ask for these votes, if you’re not taking conservative principles to all people.

Donalds defeated Democrat Cindy Banyai in the race to succeed retiring Rep. Francis Rooney, a fellow Republican.

Donalds said conservatives need to go where they ordinarily aren’t found to get their message out to those who need to hear it. 

“Whether it’s to the old media, whether it’s to the new media, not just doing Fox and Newsmax and OANN, but also doing MSNBC, doing CNN, also doing black radio shows like ‘The Breakfast Club.’ I mean, really taking the message everywhere,” he said.