Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina has taken the high road after being left off the invitation list for the 50th anniversary celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march on Washington, despite being the only African American currently serving in the Senate.
"The senator believes today is a day to remember the extraordinary accomplishments and sacrifices of Dr. King, Congressman John Lewis, and an entire generation of black leaders," his spokesman Greg Blair said in a statement released to The Wall Street Journal
confirming he had not been invited.
"Today's anniversary should simply serve as an opportunity to reflect upon how their actions moved our country forward in a remarkable way."
Scott commemorated the day with an op-ed piece in his home state's major newspaper The State,
pointing out that he had been born two years after the historic march that included King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
"I am living my mother’s American Dream," 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. The persistence and strength embodied in those coming of age in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s defined a generation of black leaders, and led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. In 1967, it gave us a Republican from Massachusetts, Edward Brooke, as the first black U.S. senator since reconstruction. And it gave my mom, working 16-hour days to keep food on our table in North Charleston, that extra push to keep moving forward."
The anniversary event, headlined by President Barack Obama, included many Democratic and liberal speakers, including former President Bill Clinton, Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, Oprah Winfrey, and Jamie Foxx. Republicans were not entirely excluded, as former President George W. Bush was invited, but was unable to attend because he was recovering from surgery.
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor were also invited, but were unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts.
Making Obama, the first black president, the keynote speaker at an event remembering the civil rights leaders and their work makes sense, The Washington Examiner notes
, but "wouldn't it have made sense to have the first black president joined by the first black senator from South Carolina, which was a Jim Crow state when the original march on Washington took place?"
In a discussion on CNN on Scott's absence, the only rationale USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham gave was that the senator was appointed.
"He should have been invited to speak for what reason?" Wickham asked. "He's one of 50 senators, and he's appointed, not elected."
Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, the first black chairman of the GOP organization, also was not invited to speak at the event because he does not currently hold that or any other elected position, The Washington Post reported
"But if I were the current chairman and hadn't been invited, that'd be a different story," Steele said. "If I hadn't been invited, I would have forced myself on them."
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