Pictured above (left to right) Cedric Blain-Spain, Councilman Larry A. White, Nancy Anderson, Rev. Dr. Preston L. McKever-Floyd (seated) and Don Kohn.
Horry County Democrats commemorated Black History Month on February 26 with two outstanding programs at the HCDP office in Conway.
The first featured speaker was Veronica Gerald, assistant professor/director of the Joyner Institute at CCU. Don Kohn, HCDP Chairman, Cedric Blain-Spain, state executive committee member from Horry County and Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy also spoke at the event.
Cedric Blain-Spain, made opening remarks and led the gathering in a rendition of the Negro National Anthem.
Mayor Blain-Bellamy, a former social worker and attorney, noted the achievements of several black Horry County women.
Professor Gerald spoke of the rich Gullah-Geechee heritage of Horry County. She capped her speech with a moving personal story, told in the Gullah language, of her ancestors who were slaves on a plantation in Surfside.
In the evening attendees heard an inspiring keynote address by Rev. Dr. Preston L. McKever-Floyd, professor emeritus at CCU.
“We can make a difference” Dr. McKever-Floyd said. “In the worst conditions, people have not just survived, they have thrived.”
McKever-Floyd continued by saying “From the rivers of Africa, the Caribbean, to the low country of South Carolina, Africans came. Rice was king, and Africans from the Congo and Gola regions were rice growers, so 80 percent of African slaves were from there because they had the necessary skills.”
Dr. McKever-Floyd recalled that in the early 1960s, there was a “reign of terrorism in South Carolina” when members of the KuKluxKlan promised that if blacks attended white high schools, “blood would run in the streets.” However, he added, in 1965 schools in the state were desegregated and there was no such violence, largely because white leaders worked to prepare the city of Conway for integration.
In 1968, the young Preston McKever-Floyd was one of five African Americans who graduated from Conway high school, just one month after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Eventually, he became the first African American to chair the Department of Philosophy at CCU.
Another speaker, Councilman Larry A. White, painted a portrait of African American life in Conway, where he grew up. He gave an example of how blacks were unable to try on clothes in Conway’s clothing stores and “When you got home, if they didn’t fit, they were yours”.
Today, White is an African American city councilman in a city where he was once harassed by police simply because of his race.
HCDP Chair Don Kohn and State EC Cedric Blain-Spain urged Democrats to support the party’s voter registration initiatives during the 2019 – 2020 election cycle.
“We need to register thousands”, Kohn said.
Blain-Spain, who organized this outstanding Black History Month program, stressed the importance of African Americans registering to vote and voting. He said great strides have been made over the past 50 years but warned that “now it’s happening all over again”, referring to actions and policies of the Trump administration and Republicans.
Blain-Spain ended by saying “The path to 2020 begins with the municipal elections in 2019”.