Recently, the South Carolina general assembly of legislators elected 22 White men to serve as state court judges. Four well-qualified African American women were also candidates. None were elected.
In my opinion, this recent judicial election is an affront to the national and local efforts of equity and diversity that have been playing out in our county. It shows that the South Carolina general assembly is stuck in reverse.
Furthermore, I think this action is a backlash against the national presidential election and the control of the House and Senate that Democrats won in November. This is South Carolina’s way of reaffirming its Republican hold on the state, and in many ways, our state of mind.
I support our democratically elected president, Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and the strong Democratic team they are building. We know South Carolina played a significant role in the election of President Biden, and our Democrat citizens were the turning point in the primary election.
Black people, especially Black women led the charge to help Biden win the primary, and then the presidency. I think this move is largely punishment for the progress Black people have made. It is pushback on the impact Black women have had and stifling the impact they can have.
The monstrosity that happened last Wednesday reiterates to me that everything starts at the ballot box. Democrats lost ground in our state and this is a direct result of that.
So, how do we fix it? Simple. Our citizens have to get out and vote; give us some help. Everything is predicated upon voting. Boards. Commissions. Parole boards. Many of the things that are vital to our lives are appointed by the general assembly. It is important that we are fair to our citizens. The people we appoint should represent the People of South Carolina. Not just the White male population.
It is important to note that many of our citizens don’t know about this. They don’t realize what has happened. It didn’t make the newspaper headlines; it’s not breaking news on television. But it is real, and it has an impact on our state and community.
Some of these appointments last for 10 years. A lot of progress can be made in 10 years. But a lot of setbacks can be made also. And that is my fear with these appointments.
In the last election, we turned out and voted in record numbers. But there is so much more work that has to be done. The election season is over but we can never stop fighting, even in the off-season. Register your family and friends to vote. Explain to them how the obvious and not-so-obvious ways that voting impact their lives. And vote like our lives depend on it. Because it does.
Representative Leon Howard
SC House of Representatives
SC District 76