The Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina closed out Black History month with the official launch of their statewide “We Hear You” Minority Voter Listening Tour. The kick-off event was held in the fellowship hall of Reid Chapel AME Church, where the Revered Carey A. Grady is the Senior Pastor and a committed activist himself. He is an active member of the Faith Coalition on Gun Violence and is the Co-President of MORE Justice, a regional advocacy group that Rev. Grady helped bring to the Midlands. MORE Justice is dedicated to seeking justice for all residents of the Central Midlands area by holding systems accountable to fair practices and policies.
With the establishment of the organization in the area and by hosting the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina’s inaugural listening session, Grady harkened back to the days when the Civil Rights Movement was birthed and nurtured in the back rooms of black churches across the country and, in doing so, provided a symbolic start for what turned out to be a historic meeting in its own right.
The symbolism of the event came, not from the issues that were discussed or outcomes of the night, but came as a result of the people who were gathered in the room to discuss them. The attendees were as diverse as their issues. Present were senior activists who have been advocating for our communities for over three decades alongside an array of young upstarts – who’s organizations first started organizing on social media only a few years ago but who have since grown to be powerhouses in our communities. These nascent organizations have garnered media attention, praise from elected officials and community members, and most importantly, provided services to hundreds of children and other vulnerable citizens in our communities.
The listening session served as an opportunity for members of the newly formed Black Caucus of South Carolina Democratic Party and Trav Robertson, Chairman of SCDP, to sit down for a candid, round-table conversation with two dozen or so African American community leaders who head or work for some of the Midlands most innovative organizations that tackle an array of issues facing black communities today.
Participants were eager to bring to the table the often overlooked thoughts and concerns of the constituents they represented throughout the evening, they often delivered their messages to the group with heartfelt passion.
Robertson, Chairman of SCDP said, “This meeting is awesome. The organizations represented in the room are truly amazing. Every Democratic candidate running for president needs to be in one of these listening sessions.”
Johnnie Cordero, Chairman of the Black Caucus said,
“Our goal for the evening was to begin to get an idea of the issues for which we want to advocate as a caucus. There was a really lively exchange of ideas at our first event and it lets us know that people really are hungry to be heard and that there was truly a need for our caucus to be established. There is a lot of work to be done and we’re just getting started.”
Cordero also added, “the spirited conversation of the evening helped lay the groundwork for future events and set the tone for how members of the black caucus hope to execute its mission to be a voice for the African American members of the Democratic Party, who don’t represent the party elite. The average black voter whose not involved with the party on a regular basis but who pushes that Democratic button every election cycle regardless of the color of the candidate needs a voice in the party, and the Black Caucus is working to be it.”
Attendees for the evening included:
Chandra Cleveland-Jennings, Speaker and Private Investigator, Zakiya Esper of Sowing Seeds into the Midlands, Rev. Carey A. Grady of the Faith Coalition on Gun Violence, Vivian Anderson of Every Black Girl, Jacquetta Chatman of Mothers of Black Boys, Richard Barr of SC Center for Fathers and Families, Jonnieka Farr of Richland Democratic Women’s Council, Dexter Ashford of the Urban Farming Project, Lester Young of Just Leadership USA (JLUSA), Teshia Salters McSwain, Community Activist, Cecile Johnson of African Development Plan, Jennifer Clyburn-Reed of the Center for the Education and Equity of African American Students at University of South Carolina, Craig Khanwell of We Over Me, Lasenta Lewis-Ellis of LLE Construction Group, LLC and the former president of National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC), Regina E. Williams of Booker Washington Heights Neighborhood Association, David Edmond, Community Activist, Thomas E. Mosley, Lawyer/Community Activist, Torledo Wall of the Boy Scouts of America, Mustafa Abdullah, Community Activist and Takesha Brown of the National Action Network (NAN).
The caucus plans to hold listening sessions across the state in order to ensure all of the state’s black communities have an opportunity to be heard.
To learn more about upcoming events visit the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina online at www.dbcsc.org or join the Facebook group.