The Fight inside the SC Democratic Party to make Black Voter Input Matter as Much as Black Voter Output
By: Dr. Johnnie Cordero
To the members of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina, Black Voters of South Carolina, Fellow Democrats, and Allies.
When I founded the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina (DBCSC) in 2019, we took great pains to outline a mission statement that spoke to the heart of what we wanted to achieve for South Carolina’s Black Democrats. The end result reads, in part, as follows:
“The mission of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina is to promote and encourage all state-registered African American Democrats to actively participate in the party’s operations, planning, and outreach activities and pursue leadership positions within the South Carolina Democratic Party. We work with party leadership and elected Democratic officials to introduce and support policies that benefit the interests and welfare of the African-American community while serving as a vehicle for the implementation of these policies. We exist to provide guidance and offer advice regarding the concerns of the African-American community.”
As a devoted Democrat who wanted to strengthen the Party by advocating for our base. I completed the official application to create the caucus. I then followed all of the required protocols and made a motion at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the South Carolina Democratic Party to create the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina. The motion was unanimously approved by the full Executive Committee.
In the years since its inception, I have remained steadfast in my commitment to the DBCSC mission. It has been the driving force behind every action that we have taken. It is why I demanded that Party leadership honor the DNC’s call for increased diversity and equity in the 2020 Democratic President delegate selection process. It is why I spoke up for black voters and refused to turn a blind-eye to the deliberate disenfranchisement of over 100,000 South Carolina democratic voters, mostly of whom were black.
It is why I fell out of favor with the SCDP leadership. And it is why I refuse to be the South Carolina Democratic Party’s version of Tim Scott.
While I commend Senator Scott for his historic accomplishments and respect the office he holds as an elected official of the great state of South Carolina, his Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address last week equated to tokenism. He was a black leader whose talking points were not his own who did not have black voters’ best interest at heart.
It has become clear that Chairman Robertson wants that same tokenism for the “South Carolina Democratic Party Black Caucus.” He wants a black face that’s willing to stand at a podium and recite whatever whitewashed black issues or anti-progressive talking points he hands them.
Chairman Robertson had the opportunity to prove otherwise when I raised my concerns about the lack of diversity in the 2020 Democratic President delegate selection process and other actions that equated to the deliberate disenfranchisement of the Party’s own voters. Instead, he made it clear that he believes the black vote in South Carolina has always been controlled by white party leadership and the few black democratic elites of their choosing.
I realized that Chairman Robertson was not interested in strengthening relations with African American voters, despite the fact, Black voters make up 66% of the democratic electorate in South Carolina. He was only interested in black voter output, not black voter input. Under his leadership, the concept of “Plantation Politics” is to remain the standard in South Carolina Democratic politics.
As a result of Chairman Robertson’s failure to act and his decision to willfully ignore the disenfranchisement of black voters, I sought the courts for redress. And in further action, on March 17, 2021, the Executive Board of the Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina voted to remove our caucus from under the umbrella of the Democratic Party of South Carolina.
The Caucus now stands as an independent 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.
(DBCSC) still remains a democratic organization but we are no longer governed by the rules of the Democratic Party of South Carolina. It is the official position of the Executive Board that, as an independently black-owned organization, the caucus can more freely represent the true voice and interests of black democratic voters of South Carolina.
In turn, Chairman Robertson created a puppet organization called the “South Carolina Democratic Party Black Caucus” which was conceived in secrecy. It amounts to nothing more than the political version of ‘Black Face.’ It was not formed out of concern or love for black democrats. It’s a deceitful and deplorable symbol of Jim Crow Democracy. Its concept was born in a backroom by those masquerading as allies for the sole purpose of confusing African American democrats and diluting the authentic black progressive voices of the party.
It is worth noting that there are several independently organized democratic organizations, such as; South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council, Richland County Democratic Women and a host of other local and statewide democratic clubs and organizations.
The only organization that specifically speaks for black voters is the only one Chairman Robertson is trying to silence by using the antebellum strategies of Willie Lynch, to divide and conquer and dilute black voting power by creating a white owned and controlled organization and saying that this is the only organization they will officially recognize.
The Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina, however, will continue to build statewide chapters and advocate for the African-American democratic electorate to ensure that the South Carolina Democratic Party does not take black voters for granted. We will stand with the young black activists of today who picked up the torch of our civil rights legends. And we will remain true to our mission. The Democratic Black Caucus of South Carolina was founded by a black man, governed by a board of devoted black democrats and activists, and exists to speak and serve the black voters of South Carolina.
Therefore, I strongly urge, with the most sincere sentiments of love for my brothers and sisters and undying and unyielding love for the black community of South Carolina that any African American democrats seeking to join or lead Chairman Robertson’s “South Carolina Democratic Party Black Caucus,” don’t! I beg of you, don’t be Chairman Robertson’s Tim Scott.