The massacre of nine saints attending prayer service at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston by an avowed racist, along with the non-vindictive and heartfelt response of their family members, unified and moved South Carolina to a higher level of social justice. Twenty-three days after the tragic deaths, South Carolina began the process of separating itself from the vestiges of the divisive and racist symbol of the Confederate flag.
This symbol has perpetuated a mindset among some individuals of inequality and unfair treatment of minority citizens. In essence, it helped reduce the overall quality of life for many South Carolinians. The bold action by Gov. Nikki Haley and members of the General Assembly to remove the Confederate flag from State House grounds and place it in the Confederate Museum represents a new day for South Carolina.
Why SC legislators can’t do other things as fast as they brought down flag
The Columbia Urban League is drawing its inspiration from this journey for its Equal Opportunity Day Dinner and fundraiser on Nov. 3 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, as we explore “One South Carolina: Moving Forward through Unity, Cooperation and Civility.” Gov. Haley will deliver our keynote address.
One South Carolina will only be realized through a strategic action plan to close the disparity gaps in education, economic opportunities, health care and criminal justice. It will take the collective action and commitment of people of goodwill to accomplish this mission. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it: “(P)rogress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to work to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
Once again, we saw South Carolina come together as one in the aftermath of the devastating flood in early October, compassionately reaching out in the spirit of oneness to help each other.
Our response to this catastrophe demonstrated to the world our capacity to come together as one South Carolina in addressing unprecedented challenges. As we move forward, we must enhance our commitment and determination to close the economic and social equality gaps that have hindered our ability to be one South Carolina.
James T. McLawhorn Jr.
President and CEO
Columbia Urban League