Old SC legislative manual still uses 'Negro' political labels

Saturday, May 30, 2009 6:29 AM
Last updated 6:58 AM
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COLUMBIA – The official manual of South Carolina's Legislature continues to label some of the state's former politicians as "Negro" or "scalawag" – apparent remnants of disgruntlement over Reconstruction that nobody has bothered to change.

A spokesman for the state's lieutenant governor, who is eyeing a run for the top office, has sent a letter asking for an update. But civil rights leaders don't seem too bothered by the listings, which even led to portraits of the state's two black speakers being hung in the chamber of the South Carolina House.

The lists of former governors, lieutenant governors and speakers included in the nearly 700-page manual are taken from historical documents maintained by the state, said House Clerk Charles Reid, who is in charge of compiling the book.

The reason why "Negro" and "scalawag" are included – when the first woman to be lieutenant governor or a recent officeholder convicted of a felony isn't noted – is lost to history, although historians have long noted the people who took power after Reconstruction took great steps to discredit those who ran South Carolina immediately after the South lost the Civil War. During that era, the term "scalawag" was used to refer to white Southerners who supported the federal government's actions in the region.

"It's a historical document. We didn't create it. It's just there," Reid said. "I don't want to impose my judgment on something that is a historical record."

Staffers in Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's office said they first became aware of the racial notation when they were contacted by a reporter from the Aiken Standard. Spokesman Frank Adams sent a letter to Reid saying the office "felt that racial designations were irrelevant" and should be deleted from future editions.

"It is an anachronism," Adams said. "Do we really need to worry about this kind of thing in this day and age?"

Bauer wouldn't elaborate Friday and said the letter speaks for itself.

The leader of the state NAACP said the listings shed light on the people who made the entries and the people who keep them there, but said the organization has more important issues to deal with, like disparities in education.

"It's a not a reflection on the people who served. I'm not going to waste any time on it," said Lonnie Randolph, president of the South Carolina branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

A review of legislative manuals since the mid 1960s shows at least one of the lists has been published in most of the books. But the past chairman of the Black Legislative Caucus had no idea about the listings until told by a reporter. Rep. Leon Howard said he would take it up with the caucus the next time they met.

"I hope it's there for historical purposes," the Columbia Democrat said. "I don't think anyone would purposely demean African Americans openly like that."

The lists served the state well about 10 years ago when a black lawmaker found out there had been two black House speakers, Reid said.

"Nobody knew who they were. We actually went to that list, and because that list listed 'Negro' we were able to discover who these two African-American speakers were and have portraits made of them and hung in the House chamber," said Reid who added whether to leave the terms in the book is always up for debate.

The lieutenant governors and speakers with "Negro" beside them are the only blacks to ever hold those offices in the state. Reconstruction was by far the peak of black officeholders in South Carolina, where at one point more than 60 percent of the Legislature was made up of black lawmakers.

"Scalawag" Franklin Moses is different matter.

Moses was a South Carolina native and served in the Confederate military during the Civil War, but supported the Republicans during Reconstruction. After four years as speaker, Moses was elected governor in 1872. He was indicted for misappropriation of state funds two years later, but avoided prosecution when he won a ruling saying a sitting governor could be impeached, but not tried in court. After leaving office, Moses moved to the Northeast, where he was convicted of petty fraud several times.

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patriciathomas
43
Points
patriciathomas 05/30/09 - 08:42 am
0
0
This article raised more

This article raised more questions than it answers. Who would commission a portrait of the two black speakers being hung? Why were they hung in the chamber of the South Carolina house? Did the hanging take place while they were on the job? Will today's S.C. congress be referred to as "scalawags" because of their defiance of Gov. Sanford? Would this document be improved if the word "negro" (which means black) were replaced with the word black (which means negro)?

bone
24
Points
bone 05/30/09 - 09:37 am
0
0
oh boy

oh boy

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 05/30/09 - 10:23 am
0
0
How about reporting on some

How about reporting on some real news. It seems the only articles that the Augusta Chronicle takes up most of it's space on are the ones that pretty much mean nothing. Is it because the articles are written by others who can actually spell?

colcamp1
10
Points
colcamp1 05/30/09 - 11:26 am
0
0
What????????

What????????

confederate american
0
Points
confederate american 05/30/09 - 02:01 pm
0
0
naacp another waste of time

naacp another waste of time and money,they are not doing anything for the black people they are to busy worrying about a flag

viningblt
0
Points
viningblt 05/30/09 - 04:52 pm
0
0
PT, The Speakers werent hung,

PT,
The Speakers werent hung, The PORTRAITS of the speakers were hung in a place of honor in the statehouse.

GGpap
528
Points
GGpap 05/31/09 - 12:42 am
0
0
If Andre Bauer supports

If Andre Bauer supports revisionist history (deleting the term "Negro" from future additions" of the legislative manuals he has lost my vote for any public office he may choose to run for in the future. As pointed out by another poster, the term Negro is the correct term for "black;" and the designation of Black, in my opinion, is FAR SUPERIOR to, and deserves MUCH GREATER RESPECT from my side of the fence, than the insipid, un-American term, "African-American." GGpap

concerned voter
0
Points
concerned voter 05/31/09 - 09:20 am
0
0
So, does this mean we won't

So, does this mean we won't hear the word United NEGRO college fund anymore MR. Reporter? The NAACP-the National Assoc. against Caucasian people are an ignorant bunch...
Are they Negro? Colored? African-American? How can that be? You are either from one or the other...with that logic they spew, then I must be a Confederate-American? My family is originally from England, lived here through the War of the Northern Aggression--so I must be European-Confederate-American. How long would Negroes allow that? I mean colored, nope I forgot African-Americans...oh wait. Maybe it's [filtered word]...that is what I hear blacks call each other often--you my [filtered word]--that [filtered word] is crazy....What about the mulatto President--can we say that? What does he think about this situation? I think the Rev. Manning is right; their minds are messed up--they call her Ms. Ann video from him really puts it in perspective.

justus4
124
Points
justus4 05/31/09 - 02:41 pm
0
0
This is a missed opportunity
Unpublished

This is a missed opportunity for the NAACP because this information is southern history and should be taught is public schools. The NAACP is failing miserably to advance anything significant and can't seem to appoint the best & brightest. And the quote, "I don't think...demean African- Americans openly like that." What?! Of course "they" will not only demean African Americans, but falsely accuse them (visit a jail), violate their Constitutional rights and everything else. What kinda idiot thinks that much progress have been made? Look at that state and its no wonder minorities are suffering, with leaders like him. This guy needs to be replaced for cause. His priorities are all wrong alnog with his flawed comprehension of the value of historical accuracy. The minority citizens deserve better.

bcs2k
0
Points
bcs2k 06/01/09 - 06:49 am
0
0
The correct term is American

The correct term is American idiots. Ethnicity is whatever country your people are from. Is that simple enough for ya?

Negro means black -- as in a color. White is a color. Some lazy goof-off decided to wrongly identify individuals by color hundreds of years ago. We've use these terms all the time because we (primarily Americans) have always been lazy or ignorant.

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