In stark contrast to most of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) last week, Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott landed a most inspiring speech on the first night of the Republican National Convention (RNC), relaying his story from high school flunky to senator, and his family’s great advancement as African Americans in the matter of a lifetime.
“Our family went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime,” said Scott, who’s routinely maligned for being a black Republican. “And that’s why I believe the next American century can be better than the last.”
“Do we want a society that breeds success, or a culture that cancels everything it even slightly disagrees with?” Scott continued. “I know where I stand, because you see, I am living my mother’s American Dream.”
“My parents divorced when I was 7 years old,” Scott explained. “We lived in a two-bedroom house with my grandparents; me, my mom, and my brother sharing a room and a bed. My mom worked 16 hours a day to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. She knew that if we could find the opportunity, bigger things would come.”
The senator said he thought he had to use football as a way out after stumbling academically. In fact, Scott flunked school in the ninth grade.
“I failed my freshman year of high school — four subjects: Spanish, English, world geography, and civics. Trust me, after spending seven years in the Senate, I know I’m not the only one in Congress who failed civics,” he cracked.
However, Scott, supported by his mother, moved forward: “But even while I was failing the ninth grade, my mother always said, ‘When you shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will be among the stars.’ She never lost faith in me, even when I lost faith in myself. Because of her encouragement, I went to summer school and caught up.”
The senator then met his mentor: John Moniz, a Chick-fil-A operator.
“John saw something in me that I could not see in myself, and started teaching me valuable lessons in life,” he recalled. “Like, having a job was a good thing, but creating jobs would be better. That having an income could change my lifestyle, but creating a profit could change my community!”
The learning experience propelled Scott to eventually open his own small business, and, later, in the Senate, inspire what would be come “Opportunity Zones,” an initiative the elected official and President Donald Trump worked on together to bring “over 75 billion dollars of private sector investment into distressed communities.”
“You may be asking yourself how does a poor black kid from a single parent household run and win a race in a crowded Republican primary against a Thurmond?” he posed. “Because of the evolution of the heart, in an overwhelmingly white district, the voters judged me on the content of my character, not the color of my skin.”
“We live in a world that only wants you to believe in the bad news, racially, economically and culturally-polarizing news,” he continued. “The truth is, our nation’s arc always bends back towards fairness. We are not fully where we want to be, but thank God we are not where we used to be!”
“We don’t give into cancel-culture, or the radical, and factually baseless belief that things are worse today than in the 1860s or the 1960s,” Scott said. “We have work to do, but I believe in the goodness of America, the promise that all men, and all women are created equal.”
Closing out the speech, Scott said his late grandfather’s 99th birthday would have been Tuesday.
“Growing up, he had to cross the street if a white person was coming. He suffered the indignity of being forced out of school as a third grader to pick cotton, and never learned to read or write.” Scott emphasized: “Yet, he lived to see his grandson become the first African American to be elected to both the United States House and Senate.”
“Our family went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime. And that’s why I believe the next American century can be better than the last,” the senator said.
“There are millions of families like mine across this nation, full of potential, seeking to live the American Dream,” Scott concluded. “And I’m here tonight to tell you that supporting the Republican ticket gives you the best chance of making that dream a reality.”
“God bless you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”
Partial transcript via CNN