— by Sen. Robert Ford
Let me preface my remarks by letting everyone who is guilty of the following know, I love you as a human being and individually you are decent but after 45 years of fighting racism, bigotry, and sexism, I am tired."
It is sad but very true that racism and a considerable degree of bigotry and sexism are prevalent and control many factors in South Carolina as it relates to political, economic and social actions.
I would like to cite the following examples based on my personal experience. One of the boldest decisions that I ever made in my life was my decision to continue with the legislation I introduced to take down the Confederate Flag from the top of the State Capitol and from within the House and Senate Chambers.
The reason this decision was bold, the NAACP did not like the fact that my legislation became law. After the bill was signed into the law, the NAACP crafted a National Boycott of South Carolina. Under normal circumstances when a boycott is called for a non-moral issue like the Confederate Flag, the sanctions are far less severe. In this case, the actions had the potential to destroy the State of South Carolina. What added more fuel to the fire was that not one of the other 45 South Carolina senators was willing to co-sponsor the legislation with me. Meaning, Robert Ford had to face the wrath of the NAACP, a mass of like thinking South Carolinians and their comrades across the United States.
This happened in 1999 and to this day, I still face the wrath from many on the issue of the Confederate Flag. Another point of contention was when I denounced the NAACP Boycott of South Carolina. My actions paved the way for bringing new business to South Carolina as well as other high profile events. The only major group that still refuses to come to South Carolina in spite of that effort is the NCAA. I have had several conversations with the group regarding coming to South Carolina, but to no avail.
You might ask what all of this has to do with racism, bigotry and sexism. Well, the answer is as simple as it relates to white men. Not one of my majority colleagues was politically or professionally in a position to do what I did regarding the NAACP Boycott.
Another shocking point that pertains to race, bigotry and sexism is the non-action of the Chamber of Commerce. In my estimation, they are still trying to prove their position as major players and who to this day has not shown any appreciation of my efforts on behalf of the boycott nor the Confederate Flag.
Also what needs to be pointed out, a large number of Northerner’s has relocated to South Carolina. What is ironic, they come with the attitude they can out-southern the Southern Whites by showing more disdain and lack of respect to native people of color in South Carolina. I equate this as misguided racism, bigotry and sexism.
My last point on this example, I am probably the only State Senator in the country who has business or industry in their district, that give campaign contributions to other White senators and elected officials rather than to the person who represents that specific district.
On Wednesday night, July 18, 2012, I switched a very crucial vote which appropriated $10 million dollars to the Department of Commerce to attract new business to South Carolina. If I had not switched, the Department of Commerce would not have not received the $10 million because Governor Haley vetoed the line item provision. Once again, not one thank-you from the Department of Commerce, Chamber of Commerce or the S.C. Business Alliance. Believe me brothers and sisters, if I was a white senator they would be singing his praises and probably make me the Senator of the decade.
On another issue, the all-male South Carolina Senate votes to sustain one veto by Governor Haley that veto was to take money from Women’s Crisis Centers. Now this is absolutely unbelievable, that a political body elected by the people would do such a thing.
Brothers and sisters, racism, bigotry and sexism should never be tolerated. My main reason for bringing these points to your attention today is to put you on notice. I will be fighting even harder to stamp out these three evil diseases.
Boards and Commissions
The State of South Carolina should set the tone in the appointments of boards and commissions. On a statewide level board and commissions are appointed by the Governor, the Senate Pro-Tempore, Senate Finance Committee Chairman, the Speaker of the House and the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman. On many of these boards and commissions that require Senate confirmation the Black members of the Senate have a major obligation to make sure that they are equitably represented with African Americans and women.
The lack of African-American lobbyists in state government is a major embarrassment to South Carolina. There are 40 elected African Americans elected to the General Assembly. In the past two years there have been less than ten independent Black lobbyists representing South Carolina businesses. When you consider the fact that other Southern states have at least 20-25 Black lobbyist and look at South Carolina with less than 2%, that my friends is a sad state of affairs. The business community in South Carolina must change this racist policy.