SC governor: Civil rights icon would be proud of state

ashain@thestate.comJanuary 16, 2013 

Gov. Nikki Haley spoke at the Columbia Urban League breakfast Tuesday morning. The League recognized her for diversifying SC politics. The honor for Haley, SC's first woman and first minority governor is part of the leagues's MLK celebration. Here, Haley talks with Columbia Urban League president J.T. McLawhorn.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com Buy Photo

  • State of the State on Wednesday night Gov. Nikki Haley will deliver her annual State of the State address tonight at 7 at the State House. Return to thestate.com during the day Wednesday for a preview of what Haley will say. Also, Wednesday night you’ll find reaction here to Haley’s speech. Haley incorrectly attributes King quote A quote that Gov. Nikki Haley attributed to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a speech Tuesday on the civil rights leader’s birthday belongs instead to an SC native who founded the Children’s Defense Fund. “What I loved was one quote that stuck with me and Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘No one person has the right to rain on your dreams,’ ” Haley said at a Columbia Urban League breakfast Tuesday. The quote actually came from Bennettsville native Marian Wright Edelman’s 1992 book, “Measure of Our Success: Letter to My Children and Yours,” a spokeswoman for the Children’s Defense Fund said. Edelman worked with King before starting a law firm monitoring federal programs that became the Defense Fund. The governor’s office did not respond for comment. Andrew Shain

— Gov. Nikki Haley said Tuesday (click here for video) that she has admired the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. since she was a 5-year-old growing up in Bamberg, saying the civil rights leader said things that she could relate to because her Indian-American family faced discrimination.

Haley added that her election in 2010 as the state’s first female and first minority governor would have made King proud of South Carolina.

“He would be so proud of what we have become that he would tell us, ‘Don’t stop,’ ” the Lexington Republican told about 200 government, business and civic leaders at the Columbia Urban League’s breakfast on King’s birthday Tuesday. “He would say, ‘See, this is just the beginning.’ ”

Haley said she won the governor’s race because she earned the win, not because of her race. The same, she said, was true of Tim Scott, the Republican congressman from North Charleston whom Haley appointed last month as the state’s first African-American U.S. senator.

“We got it because Dr. King fought for that to happen, for people to look beyond the color of skin, for people to understand what it means to communicate with each other through love and not hate,” she said. “That is what I took away from him: No matter how bad people are to you, always respect and love them back because that’s what he wanted.”

In addition to his beliefs, Haley said she liked King as a child because they both were Capricorns — their birthdays are five days apart.

“I just tried to find any way to connect with someone that I would never be blessed to know,” Haley said. “But I will tell you that I have been changed. All of us have been changed.”

The governor asked South Carolinians to perform community service on Monday’s King holiday. She said after her speech that she will talk to her two children about their project plans.

The Columbia Urban League is promoting an initiative about civility, which was a theme of the King breakfast. Haley said the civil rights leader would be disappointed with the current divisiveness of politics.

“He would want to see more graciousness by people, that you can agree to disagree without being hateful about it,” she said after the speech.

Urban League President J.T. McLawhorn Jr. declined to comment on any political divisiveness on Haley’s part. Instead, he said he appreciated Haley sharing personal stories in her speech about overcoming discrimination, some of which are detailed in her 2012 memoir “Can’t Is Not an Option.”

“The governor come here today and spoke about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.,” McLawhorn said. “Her success was based on Dr. King’s thoughts, Dr. King’s teachings. So I think that what’s I would like to reflect on.”


State of the State on Wednesday night

Gov. Nikki Haley will deliver her annual State of the State address tonight at 7 at the State House. Return to thestate.com during the day Wednesday for a preview of what Haley will say. Also, Wednesday night you’ll find reaction here to Haley’s speech.

Haley incorrectly attributes King quote

A quote that Gov. Nikki Haley attributed to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a speech Tuesday on the civil rights leader’s birthday belongs instead to an SC native who founded the Children’s Defense Fund.

“What I loved was one quote that stuck with me and Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘No one person has the right to rain on your dreams,’ ” Haley said at a Columbia Urban League breakfast Tuesday.

The quote actually came from Bennettsville native Marian Wright Edelman’s 1992 book, “Measure of Our Success: Letter to My Children and Yours,” a spokeswoman for the Children’s Defense Fund said. Edelman worked with King before starting a law firm monitoring federal programs that became the Defense Fund.

The governor’s office did not respond for comment.

Andrew Shain

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