There was a time, not so long ago, when black folk had difficulty voting in South Carolina. But, today, in that state’s Republican primaries, an African-American man, Tim Scott, appears likely to win the GOP nomination to run for Congress in the First Congressional District, defeating, of all people, the son of Sen. Strom Thurmond who ran for President on a segregationist platform as the candidate of the Dixiecrat party in 1948.
In the state’s GOP gubernatorial primary run-off, Nikki Haley, a first generation Indian-American, appears likely to win the nod to run for Governor, despite having been called a “raghead” by one opponent and facing charges about the sincerity of her conversion to Christianity by two pastors and allies of her opponent. Haley, however, won the only endorsement that seems to count for anything in the GOP these days, that of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
I would not vote for Haley or for Scott because I find their politics objectionable. But, it is a measure of how far the nation has come that two minority candidates can compete and win in a primary in South Carolina, and in a Republican primary at that. The Palmetto state is the land of the “fire-eaters,” those politicians who were chomping at the bit to secede from the Union in the 1850s and, indeed, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union after Lincoln’s election. The Civil War began with the shelling of Fort Sumter.
There were always more important things to know about a man than the color of his skin. But, that fact was obscured for decades in the Jim Crow South. That fact is obscured no longer. All Americans can take heart in the candidacy of Mr. Scott and Mrs. Haley. The wound has healed, and the scar that remains cannot be ignored, but it must be acknowledged that a scar is the mark of a wound that has healed, or is at least still healing.