As we continue the celebration of Black achievement all throughout February, South Carolina Democrats recognize our state is rich in African-American history, past, present and future. Black History Month represents both the joy and pain of Blackness, Black History month is a beautiful reminder of the struggles and successes required to progress in an openly inequitable society, in a State where many of its first Black inhabitants came to as enslaved people brought via Sullivans Island, as the final stop on the treacherous middle passage.
We remember Greenwood’s own Benjamin E. Mays, who as the son of two former slaves turned sharecroppers, went on to mentor Martin Luther King Jr., and served as the sixth president of Morehouse College.
We remember Esau and Janie Jenkins who selflessly transported their community from James Island to Charleston to work better jobs and attend school, all before founding C.O. Federal Credit Union, where Blacks could access low interest loans they were regularly denied by mainstream institutions.
We remember the students who stood for, and died for, what was right during the Orangeburg Massacre, those who were tragically murdered at Mother Emmanuel, and their families who showed the world what grace and faith in action look like, in a public display of forgiveness in the face of hate, the world will never forget. We remember pioneering entrepreneur Anthony Crawford of Abbeville and the work of his descendants to restore his legacy, unfairly and illegally stolen at the hands of a mob far too soon.
We are thankful for our modern trailblazers like Representative, who holds the distinguished honor of being our States longest currently serving member of the General Assembly.
Our senior Statesman of South Carolina, our Congressman, James E. Clyburn the first African-American to represent South Carolina in the U.S. House of Representatives since post-Civil War Reconstruction, and his wife Emily England Clyburn, who as educators, transformed the lives of generations of Black students privileged enough to sit in their classrooms.
We celebrate Teresa Meyers Ervin, the first Black woman elected mayor of Florence, and Janie Glymph Goree the first woman ever elected Mayor in our State. Kenneth Bamberg, the first Black Sheriff of Bamberg County, who stands on the broad shoulders of George A. Reed, another first Sheriff in Beaufort County.
South Carolina holds countless names and narratives that will never be told, but are a true testament to the power of progress in the face of intolerance. As Democrats we hope you will stand with each of us as we work together to promote future generations of Black leaders.