Gov. Nikki Haley will say Wednesday that racial harmony existed in South Carolina long before the nonviolent reaction to the hate-crime slayings of nine African-American parishioners at a Charleston church.
“Long before the racially charged events of this summer, I would not have been elected governor of South Carolina if our state was a racially intolerant place,” according to an excerpt of the speech that Haley will deliver Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “And I would not have won the Republican Primary if we were a racially intolerant party.”
With the grace of the aftermath of the Mother Emanuel church massacre, the world saw South Carolina as we are. What I want to tell you is that we’ve been that way for some time now — it’s just that a lot of people outside of our state never noticed.
Gov. Nikki Haley’s planned speech
Republican Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, will speak two blocks from the White House about “Lessons from the New South.” The speech comes amid speculation the nation’s youngest governor will get serious consideration as a GOP vice presidential candidate in 2016.
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The 20-minute speech is seen as a chance for Haley to build her national profile, already heightened by her successful call for S.C. lawmakers to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds in the aftermath of the Emanuel AME Church slayings.
Haley’s actions were seen as a sign of compassion for African Americans from a prominent Republican, a party that struggles with its lack of diversity.
Haley sees the speech as a chance to share South Carolina’s progress in the wake of two racially tinged shootings that gained national attention. In addition to the June slaying of nine at Emanuel, including a state senator-minister, a white North Charleston police officer was charged with murder after shooting Walter Scott, an unarmed African-American man, in April, an incident caught on video.
Haley, 43, will say her work to win jobs for South Carolina and improve education helps the poor, including African-Americans, but more work is needed to improve race relations.
“So there’s jobs, and there’s education. If we get those two things right, and nothing else, we make enormous progress for all people, most especially for those at the lower end of the economic scale,” according to a speech excerpt obtained by The State. “But let’s be honest. Jobs and education are huge elements for creating opportunity for all. Jobs and education are the keys to the opportunity agenda. But when it comes to African-American communities in particular, there’s also an equality agenda that goes further.
There still remain the unfinished goals of the civil rights movement. And the civil rights movement is a critical part of the American movement and the American story. It’s a movement in which every person, regardless of their skin color, is treated equally under the law.
Haley’s planned speech
Haley has not pledged to back other changes that African-American leaders say could help improve the lives of S.C. minorities.
And S.C. Democrats on Tuesday portrayed Haley’s Washington address as hollow rhetoric.
“Tomorrow, Governor Haley travels to Washington, D.C., to rewrite her record in South Carolina while our children will spend hours traveling on outdated buses and crumbling roads to poorly funded schools,” said Democratic Party chairman Jamie Harrison.” While she’s speaking about leading ‘the New South,’ South Carolina children and working families are falling further and further behind. ...
“Time and time again, Governor Haley and the Republican-led state Legislature have failed to lead on key investments that would bring about long-term growth for South Carolinians. Governor Haley has slashed education funding, failed to fix our deteriorating roads and refused to expand Medicaid, which would give hundreds of thousands access to health care.”
In her speech, Haley says “the New South, in many ways, is a place to look toward, rather than to look away from, when it comes to race relations and racial advancement.”
The absence of violence and growing unity among politicians after the Emanuel shootings and Scott incident are signs of change in the South, she contends.
“In many parts of society today — whether it’s in popular culture, academia, the news media or, certainly, in politics and government — there’s a tendency to falsely equate noise with results,” Haley plans to say. “Some people think that you have to yell and scream in order to make a difference.
“That’s not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume level. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.”