— by Sen. Robert Ford
I was told by a very close friend of mine who is a Baptist minister that a high ranking Baptist preacher made a comment that Robert Ford, might have had a little to do with the allotment of money from the South Carolina Education Lottery that is appropriated to the five Black private religious institutions of higher learning in South Carolina.
So let me take a moment to set the record straight.
When Lt. Governor and former Senate Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell and I became friends and working together on issues, the majority of Charleston Black leaders and one hundred percent of the Black leaders across the State of South Carolina frowned upon the relationship. They made it quite clear they were very disappointed in my actions. I made it clear to them, it wasn’t any of their business who I worked with and chose as a friend. History shows that within weeks of the friendship and working relationship between the two of us; Black people in the State of South Carolina started to benefit from the relationship immediately.
One of the most disgusting things I have to live among are people who sit around and criticize, who should have been involved with a lot of things and choose not get involved with major efforts. Those same people, when doors of opportunity are opened and victory is won they are the first to claim the victory and enjoy the benefits.
When they reiterate the event, they elect to re-write history and leave out the people or person responsible for the victory in the first place.
The 1993 Legislative Session began the second week of January. After taking the Oath of Office, Senator Glenn McConnell and I came back to Charleston (Berkeley County) for a debate on the merits of the Confederate Flag flying over the State House and the Senate and House Chambers. The people of Charleston and the Lowcountry knew the reason I ran for the Senate was the issue of the Confederate Flag.
On that afternoon in 1993, was the first time that Senator Glenn McConnell and I had a face to face conversation. During that conversation and debate, we began to understand each other’s emphatic conviction about our individual heritage and history. We talked and listened and as a result the debate was not a hostile situation. The debate was sponsored by the Berkeley County Republican Men and the audience was filled with their members and the Sons of the Confederate Veterans of the Lowcountry. After that debate, we developed a true respect for each other establishing a long-lasting friendship.
As a result of our friendship, after raising $300,000 to pursue the passage of the South Carolina Education Lottery, Senator Darrell Jackson and I met with Senator McConnell to let him know we decided during the SC Education Lottery debate, we wanted the five (5) Black Historical Religious Institutions of Higher Learning to receive funds from the Lottery initiative. Initially, Senator Jackson and I were on opposite sides of the passage of the SC Education Lottery issue.
Senator McConnell could have easily told us there was no way possible to allocate public funds to private religious institutions. However, out of respect and friendship to me he met with his legal team and made it possible. For all the angry Black leaders political and religious, that’s the way it went down. Believe what you may. Whether you ever recognize me for the effort, please don’t lie to yourself and pretend that’s not the way it happened.
If in fact, Senator Glenn McConnell and I had not been friends – five Black religious institutions of higher learning would not have ever received one red cent of public money from the State of South Carolina.
As of this date the appropriated funds to the five institutions totals $42 million dollars over a 12 year period.