The black and brown faces crowding the stage during the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia appeared to reflect a true rainbow coalition.

Condoleezza Rice and retired Gen. Colin Powell, along with eventual nominee George W. Bush, took center stage. There was even a black gospel choir hired to uplift and soften the party's image to people of color.

But when all the singing was over, only white men were left shouting "amen" for the party platform and Bush, according to some observers.

With the four-day Republican National Convention slated to begin next week at Madison Square Garden, some prominent local black Republicans are calling on the GOP this time around to show a greater commitment to diversity than just putting on a good show.

Ranking party officials agree and promised that America's growing diversity will not just be reflected in pomp and circumstance this time around.

A record 290 black delegates will participate, or a 65 percent increase from the 2000 convention, according to Judy Pino, director for specialty media for the GOP convention.

"In terms of outreach, this president has committed to expanding the African-American vote," said Tara Wall, press secretary for the Republican National Committee.

Wall said that the president has demonstrated his commitment to the black community through economic policy initiatives supporting minority business owners and developing working relationships with prominent black ministers around the country.

But several prominent local black conservatives charged that they are being ignored by the GOP and accuse the party of squandering a golden opportunity to showcase the party's growing number of African-American Republicans at the convention.

"They are not maximizing the opportunity to showcase the party's diversity at a time when the whole world will be watching how they perform in New York City," said Roy Innis, leader of the Congress for Racial Equality, a conservative-leaning civil rights organization.

Innis, who is black, said that the Republicans should steal a page from the Democrats, who featured African-American rising party stars Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago) and the Rev. Al Sharpton during last month's convention in Boston.

It was a move, Innis said, to develop party recognition among blacks that could prove beneficial in what is expected to be a close presidential race between Bush and Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass).

"They need to find their own Obama for the convention," said Innis, who has long argued for the Republican Party to adopt policies that are inclusive to conservative blacks looking for an alternative to the Democratic Party.

Adrienne Rhodes, a prominent local black Republican and vocal supporter of Bush and Republican Gov. George Pataki, agrees. Rhodes said that the party seems to be afraid to champion its achievements when it comes to people of color, especially blacks.

Rhodes cites the high number of blacks in the Bush cabinet, including Powell, Rice and national Secretary of Education Rod Paige.

"The president has gotten burned by the party not speaking out loudly enough for what the president has done right," said Rhodes, formerly the highest-ranking black woman in the Pataki administration when she was the head of the state Consumer Protection Board.

Other Republicans agreed that the party can't overplay its hand showcasing blacks at the convention in a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 4-to-1.

Republican Rep. Pete King of Seaford, who is white, said that the party has made progress but has been hindered by the court-ordered creation of predominately black voting districts that tend to vote for Democrats.

"Inroads were being made recently, but I think the politics and polarization forced everybody back to their own camps," said King, referring to a controversy when Bush recently turned down an offer to speak at the NAACP's national convention.

The president, however, impressed some by speaking before more than 9,000 journalists of color in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

But Innis still isn't convinced. He points to the current convention headliners, including former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Laura Bush.

Others have questioned why Paige, who has low name recognition, is receiving top billing at the convention while high-ranking local black Republicans remain in the shadows.

Among those is rising star New York Secretary of State Randy Daniels, a possible future GOP candidate for governor. Daniels is also co-leader of the New York Republican delegation with state party leader Sandy Treadwell. Also, Niger Innis of CORE, Roy Innis' son, and Rhodes, both considered local rising stars, remain low profile.

When asked about the complaints of local black Republicans, Wall replied: "There is a process that we follow. We are saying that everyone is welcome in this party. ... We want diversity."

But local black Republicans say it will take more than trucking out celebrities like boxing promoter Don King and 2003 Miss America Erica Harold to re-elect their president.

"We are supposed to be one big happy family," Rhodes said. "As a black who supports George W. Bush, we need to see the party stand up with us this time at the convention so the black community will know we stand united as Republicans when it comes time to vote and re-elect our president."