African-American senator not invited to speak at civil rights anniversary
August 28th, 2013
07:30 PM ET
9 years ago

African-American senator not invited to speak at civil rights anniversary

Washington (CNN) - Organizers of Wednesday's 50th anniversary March on Washington did not invite the nation's only African-American senator to speak at the civil rights commemoration, his office said, a sign of the complicated politics of racial equality.

Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina was appointed to the position in January, is currently the only black senator and is one of only eight African-Americans to ever serve in the U.S. Senate.

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"Senator Scott was not invited to speak at the event," his press secretary, Greg Blair, told CNN in a statement about the 50th anniversary gathering in Washington. Blair would not say if Scott would have accepted an invitation to speak, nor if he was disappointed at the lack of an invite.

"Today's anniversary should simply serve as an opportunity to reflect upon how their actions moved our country forward in a remarkable way," Blair demurred.

March organizers responded that they invited every member of Congress to attend the event, but anniversary spokesman Sarah Coppersmith told CNN she did not know whether Scott was invited to give remarks.

President Barack Obama was the prime speaker at the Lincoln Memorial event Wednesday, heading up a list that skewed Democratic, including Reps. Donna Edwards, D-Maryland, and Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, former Democratic presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and the leaders of two major unions.

Some others at the podium, including Oprah Winfrey and actor Jamie Foxx, came from outside of politics.

But out of three dozen speakers, none was a Republican.

Coppersmith insisted that event planners invited several GOP leaders to speak, but none could attend. That list included former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

"This event had a bipartisan outreach," Coppersmith said. "We all really wanted this to be a bipartisan event. It was not meant to be a political event at all. It was about Dr. King."

Scott did not attend the Washington commemoration, but did write about the anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech in an op-ed published Wednesday South Carolina's The State newspaper.

"I am living my mother's American Dream," the senator wrote.

"That dream was strengthened by the efforts of Dr. King, Congressman John Lewis and the countless other civil rights leaders who gave so much to build a better future," he wrote. "The leaders of the civil rights movement taught us the value of belief, discipline and hard work and that, when put together, those traits can change the world."

Filed under: Martin Luther King • Tim Scott
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Wake up People!

    And? They don't have to invite him.

    August 28, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  2. Getoverit

    He's a Republican. Nothing frightens the Liberals more than a black Republican.

    August 28, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  3. DMM

    Please, He didn't attend because he was not allowed to speak? He seems to be accepting that this was not a forum he wished to be at and gracefully is just admitting the work of the movement. Had he shown up, the Hardcore would have nailed him for it. Speaker Boehner and Rep. Cantor could have spoken, they didn't. They can't and hope to retain their seats.

    August 28, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  4. Donkey Party

    As anti-minority and anti-civil rights as Republicans are, they know they're not very welcome there.

    August 28, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  5. Sophie Meyer

    Another non-troversy. Numerous high ranking republicans were invited to participate and declined. Scott is a temp...he was appointed temporarily to hold a place. One of the republican members who were asked, but declined to participate could have suggested he stand in for them, but they didn't. He's an unknown. What exactly has he done to further the dream? So he should have been selected simply because he's black? Seriously? Another stellar display of the gops outreach program.

    August 28, 2013 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  6. Anthony Deisla

    No Colin Powell?

    Never underestimate the hypocrisy of liberals.

    August 28, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  7. DC M

    Scott adamantly supports the state's Right-to-Work laws and those tend to negatively effect minorities women and people with disability. I don't think MLK would approve. Also " Congressman Scott, one of two African-American Republicans elected to the House in 2010, declined to join the Congressional Black Caucus." (WIKI)

    August 28, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  8. Teabaggers_swallow

    Why would anyone want an uncle Tom Repuke to speak at any event??

    August 28, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  9. Robertson

    Sad to see that this event was nothing more than politics as usual. Conservative voices were not allowed to be heard, but instead we were gagged with more Liberal propaganda. It would have been fantastic to have a Republican black senator speak at this event to voice Conservative values. But, oh no, we CAN't have that. "Because they marched" we now have a race baiting Leftist President who uses his skin color to advance government expansion, increase taxes, inflict more regulatory mandates on our citizens, and chip away at our freedoms. 2016 can't come soon enough.

    August 28, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  10. Eli

    I can explain why, because liberalism is a mental disorder........

    August 28, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  11. donx

    Why invite a Republican to a Democrat convention?

    August 28, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  12. da race card

    He doesn't tow the line for the racist grievance industry so of course he wasn't invited to speak.

    August 28, 2013 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  13. Mr Hand

    Typical black liberal hypocrites.

    August 28, 2013 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  14. Trevor

    If you look at the rest of the speakers there, it has nothing to do with race. Whoever decided the comment,"A sign of the complicated politics of racial equality," Should be reminded that the constant cries of racism are often unfounded or exaggerated. I could tell you which of those two this would fall under. Just because he's the only black senator and only one of eight African- Americans to have ever served the senate, doesn't mean he has earned the right to speak at such an event. Look at the people who did speak at the event and slap yourself for calling their choices,"a sign of the complicated politics of racial equality".

    August 28, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  15. BB62

    If there was any day that politics should have been set side, it should have been today. I understand why the Presidents Bush could not attend, but the other three should have been there. That being said, I doubt they would have been welcomed. Why did Alveda King not speak? Perhaps a conservative African American actor or musician?

    August 28, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  16. S. B. Stein

    Did he have any part in civil rights programs or organizations in South Carolina? Has he spoken out in support of various civil rights programs or organizations? If he hasn't been distinguished in that field, then there is no reason to speak. He should have been invited like any other member of Congress. He wasn't elected; appointed to fill a seat. There is a difference.

    August 28, 2013 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  17. Lenny Pincus

    Any number of Republicans turned the organizers down.

    August 28, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  18. Fish

    My biggest impression was of the security differences between then and now. Dr. King was surrounded by people in 1963 yet today the people where held back behind barriers, nothing negative about the 50th observance but extremely indicative of our deteoriating society. We have failed to carry out the dream!!!

    August 28, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  19. Gerry Cates

    Discrimination, raging intolerance.and hypocritical.

    August 28, 2013 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  20. Roger

    If this is true, the organizers should be ashamed...

    August 28, 2013 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  21. Quixote

    Bohner, dubya, cantor and mccane all had more pressing things to do than commemorate one of the most important and inspiring moments in American history. Bohner and cantor were devising ways to further diminish equality and workers rights, and maybe lining up another vote to repeal affordable health care over jugs of merlot, and dubya was dizzy from his paint fumes.........the only one with a valid reason to not be ther was Bush 41 since he has been in poor health.

    So.....this part time fill in senator shod be aske why exactly? Because of th color of his skin? Hmmmmm.......that kind of misses the entireoint of the speech Dr. King gave to humanity fifty years ago, now doesn't ot?

    August 28, 2013 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  22. jod

    CNN failed to mention that both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush turned down their invitations for separate health reasons (W having recently had a heart stint placed). They didn't simply "decline."

    August 28, 2013 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  23. Captain America

    wow.. that makes no sense. A black Senator should definitely be speaking at the Civil Rights anniversary, he attained one of the most coveted and powerful positions in the United States, one of only 8 african americans to ever do so. Someone slipped up, big time.

    August 28, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  24. renaldorae

    as someone who lives in sc i didnt want him to speak mr scott doesnt represent my struggles in sc and im glad they didnt invite him what is he going to say im proof there is no discrimination as that to the folks of color in prison,and you didnt come to the neighborhood on you bus tour.

    August 28, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  25. Al

    If you're on the side of honest workers and not criminal elements you are not invited to speak on any civil liberties, after all it's impossible that anyone that believes in earning their own way could be for civil liberties.

    August 28, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
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