Columbia’s William Ramseur could not make the ceremony two years ago when Congress honored the first African-Americans to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps.
So, Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, presented the Congressional Gold Medal to Ramseur in Columbia.
“I want to thank you so much for all you’ve done for this great country of ours,” Clyburn said, giving Ramseur his medal. “And, thank you, for not allowing those activities of the less intelligent to define you.
Ramseur was one of more than 20,000 African-Americans who enlisted in the Marines from 1942-49 at Montford Point Camp in Jacksonville, N.C. He moved in Columbia in 1957.
The surviving Montford Point Marines – 330 of them – were honored at a U.S. Capitol ceremony in 2002 for their role in desegregating the Marines.
Clyburn presented Ramseur with the award after a roundtable discussion with the media that included the 11-term congressman criticizing a 10-year Republican budget proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. That budget, sponsored by the 2012 GOP nominee for vice president, would mean more that 9,000 fewer S.C. students would get Pell Grants, $9.7 billion in cuts to Medicaid, more than 2,000 fewer S.C. children in Head Start, and cuts to job-search assistance and services for domestic-violence victims, Clyburn said.
Clyburn also said he’s “tremendously bothered” by South Carolina’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, when the federal government would pay the cost of the expansion for three years and then cover no less than 90 percent of its cost in future years. “The whole notion that we should not expand Medicaid is born out of political ideology that runs contrary to the welfare of the people of South Carolina.”
Clyburn talked briefly about his Democratic primary opponent, Dorchester resident Karen Smith, a political newcomer and home-school advocate who The (Charleston) Post and Courier referred to as a Tea Party candidate – a point she challenged in a letter to the newspaper. Smith has said she is running, in part, because she was not satisfied with responses from Clyburn’s office, which she discusses on her campaign website.
“When a member of the Tea Party becomes satisfied with my response to anything, I know it is time for me to come home,” Clyburn quipped.