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. Benita

    He is a fake Senator. He has nothing important to say.

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

    Martin Luther King was a Republican, and I think he would still be one today. Let me tell you why I believe this. The Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, and 1965 were passed mostly by Republicans. And it is Republicans who are remaining true through the years to Dr Kings call to judge men by their character. Responsibility, hard work, and initiative are the paths to success, and Dr King Believed in these. The Free Enterprise System liberates men and women. The Government cannot give us a path to success, but but the Nanny State is depriving our entire country of a future. Th fundamentals that made this country is the true path to freedom, and I believe Martin Luther still believes this today.

    August 28, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  3. Rick

    Why would racist Republicans be invited to speak at a 50 Year memorial to Dr. King?

    August 28, 2013 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  4. floridamom1

    This is blatant hypocrisy. I guess you are only really black if you are a democrat.

    August 28, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  5. jadams0044

    Whether it's an oversight or not, I don't think that I would knowingly invite a member of a political party who has publically announced that they hate our nation's first black president and they gonna do all they can to make sure that Obama is a one term president.

    August 28, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  6. floridamom1

    This is hypocrisy. I guess you can only be a real black if you are a Democrat.

    August 28, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  7. popseal

    The race industry has a template for participants that can cash in. Successful blacks that live responsible lives are not included. A good friend of mine made a conscious decision to leave his 'birth environment' and did just that. He is now successful and living happily in Memphis, Tenn.

    August 28, 2013 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  8. awlgrip2

    And this surprises anyone?.......................

    August 28, 2013 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  9. rs

    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."
    As an Arizonan who witnessed the GOP's staunch refusal to establish an MLK holiday in Arizona in the '90's when the (Rep.) Governor Evan Mecham overturned the state's existing holiday, it is crystal clear the GOP has no interest in honoring MLK's legacy. Sad that they refused such an offer as it affirms their reputaion as racist bigots today- something that will not help attract minority voters to their party.

    August 28, 2013 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  10. ED1

    So I wasn't either.

    August 28, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  11. Cletus Turbrow

    I have a dream that one day all my black brothers and sisters will move away from the party of modern slavery this is the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is the party of Exclusion and ideas that keep people on welfare and deliver life sentences of poverty and desperate behavior to the poor of this country. I wish one day that everyone can participate in the American Dream but the young men and women of this fine country we live in are being fed a pack of lies by the Democratic party and all the hucksters that they let set their agenda.. I am not asking the people of this country to move to the Republican Party , I am asking them to become independents and vote for the people that have a moral makeup and the fortitude to stand up for the good of the people. The Democratic Party is the party of Slavery. God Bless America.

    August 28, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  12. Lagos

    I'm mixed on this... on the one hand, being black, a senator, or a black senator does not entitle you to anything but being black, a senator, and a black senator. On the other hand, it'd only seem appropriate for him to talk. Then again, CNN did not bother to report if there was any funny business (Random schmoes speaking instead of Scott) or if this is just a cry for page views.

    August 28, 2013 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  13. Bill in STL

    He is considered an Uncle Tom... No place for the likes of that at any function honoringMLK

    August 29, 2013 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  14. Scott

    Who gives a crud?

    August 29, 2013 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  15. Joe

    Surely it would be racist (as well as PC beyond belief) to invite someone to speak simply because of their skin color...

    August 29, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  16. Kimo

    Liberals only believe in free speech if agrees with their progressive agenda. Others not need apply....

    August 29, 2013 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  17. asdf

    Minority equality was a bitter loss for the right anyway. Why make them relive it with a smile and kind words?

    August 29, 2013 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  18. MrShabazz

    Sen. Scott is not the type of guy who would have spoken if invited. He's made it quite clear in the past how hostile he is to these things.

    August 29, 2013 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  19. necronn99

    Wow left a brother out. Sad .. Hey you do not look deprived black person.

    August 29, 2013 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  20. rasPutin

    Why doesn't the headline read, "Republican ex presidents refuse to speak at civil rights anniversary"?

    August 29, 2013 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  21. Jim Beam

    .....probably because they were to busy double checking the King aristocracy guest list. Clearly the King family is so busy maintaining their livelihoods on the backs of their dad's legacy, they can't see the current forest for the trees. Evidently, the family legacy is "blowhard."

    August 29, 2013 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  22. livingonlandfills

    Well – 1 black senator, in the same party who supported equal rights, not invited by the party who was against the emancipation of people with inaliable rights.

    Liberals have turned back the clock, and picking favorites not only undermines the liberty of all americans but undermines the work that has been done for not judging people who express a different opinion, who are born in a different city, or have a different religion.

    We need the progressiveness of the Republicans (the party that fought for over a century for Black rights). The NAACP was founded by a Republicans – now they are the separatists.

    August 29, 2013 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  23. Vet

    Did boehner and the repubics invite him, get in where you fit in. stay in your lane!

    August 29, 2013 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  24. Vet

    Just say that you did not go.

    August 29, 2013 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
  25. krhodes

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

    Race is not the issue evidently but political party is. Who is the racist party again?

    August 29, 2013 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
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