First African American Senator From the South Since Reconstruction

Congratulations to Republican Congressman Tim Scott, who was tapped by South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to fill the seat vacated by outgoing Senator Jim DeMint.  Scott is the first black Senator to serve from a Southern state since the era of Reconstruction:

Scott hails from the Palmetto State’s staunchly conservative 1st District, which stretches along along the southeastern coastline and includes both Charleston and Myrtle Beach. In 2010, he defeated councilman Paul Thurmond, son of segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond, to win the GOP’s congressional nomination. In November he won re-election with 65% of the vote. His ascension to the Senate may help the Republican Party rebrand itself after an election in which just 7% of African Americans backed Mitt Romney. The son of a single mother who worked as a nurse’s assistant, Scott clawed his way through high school and earned a partial football scholarship before becoming the wealthy part-owner of a real estate agency — the kind of bootstrapping personal narrative that conservatives believe can resonate with more middle and lower-class voters. In his remarks today, Scott praised his mom for his success. “I am thankful for a strong mom that understood that love sometimes comes at the end of a switch,” he said, according to the Washington Post.

In related news, a school board in Texas has banned the Confederate flag from Hays High School following a racial incident.

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13 comments… add one
  • bummer Dec 19, 2012 @ 11:28

    Bummer has been watching Scott closely and is anxious to see where the environment in Washington leads him. He possesses all the tools needed to succeed. This “old guy” believes he’s a comer and hopes he isn’t side-tracked.
    The flag ban in Texas has been a long time coming, it shouldn’t have taken a “racial incident” to institute the policy.

  • Richard Williams Dec 18, 2012 @ 8:41

    “Related news” ???

    • Kevin Levin Dec 18, 2012 @ 9:09

      Absolutely. 🙂

      • Richard Williams Dec 18, 2012 @ 10:19

        I just thought the comment a bit odd as you and others (rightfully so) often point out the obsession with the Confederate flag. Perhaps I’m a bit slow, but I missed the connection of Scott’s position as an SC Senator with another dispute surrounding the CSA battle flag in Texas. Based on what I’ve read about Tim Scott, his life story is the epitome of the American Dream – but, I’m part of a shrinking demographic, so what do I know? ;o)

        • Kevin Levin Dec 18, 2012 @ 11:02

          As you well know the Confederate flag was used widely as a symbol of “Massive Resistance” against civil rights and desegregation. As the visibility of and identification with the Confederate flag wanes we see progress. Hope that helps.

          • Richard Williams Dec 18, 2012 @ 11:39

            Ok, I get it. I just don’t automatically think “Confederate flag” when reading about Tim Scott. Thanks. However I can tell you, growing up in Virginia in the 60’s and 70’s, I see far more Confederate flags now than I did then, so I don’t think the flag’s visibility has waned – much the opposite seems to have occurred.

            • Kevin Levin Dec 18, 2012 @ 11:45

              Hi Richard,

              I agree that we’ve probably seen a recent spike in the visibility of the Confederate flag over the past 20 years. If we take the long view, however, it looks like we are seeing less of it and that there is so much controversy is a reflection of the dramatic changes to local and state government since the civil rights movement. It’s hard to imagine the appointment of Scott in an environment where the Confederate flag is still flying atop the statehouse.

              • Richard Williams Dec 18, 2012 @ 12:39

                Well, perhaps you’re seeing less of it but, as I said, I see a whole lot more display of it than I did 30 years ago. It’s not even close. The conservative nature of SC has not changed. Scott is a Tea-Party favorite and was Strom Thurmond’s (a conservative Republican, as you know) statewide co-chairman in Thurmond’s last re-election campaign in 1996. The flag was not removed until 2000. Scott’s appointment has much more more to do with his conservative Tea Party politics than it does the color of his skin, in my humble opinion. Unless I’m mistaken, Democrats controlled the SC legislature for most of the time the Confederate flag flew over top of the statehouse, though I understand your point.

                • Kevin Levin Dec 18, 2012 @ 14:59

                  First, I assume the update to your blog on Scott was not in reference to this post. I am not saying anything about the conservative politics of SC. Scott clearly fits into the conservative camp, which I have no problem with since the post was merely to acknowledge the milestone that his nomination merits.

                  You are likely reading too much into my post and comments. I am simply pointing out that symbolism of the Confederate flag and its connection to resistance to civil rights and desegregation has passed. That is being removed from schools across the country is an acknowledgment of its connection to this recent past and beyond.

                  • Richard Williams Dec 18, 2012 @ 16:53

                    No, it was not. It was in reference to some comments I’ve seen suggesting Senator Scott was black “in skin color only.”

  • Chris Meekins Dec 18, 2012 @ 8:27

    Republican should be in there somewhere, first Af Am Republican…

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