Mr. Brian Hicks,
My name is Sean Middleton. I am a member of the Nullification Party of Charleston. I am also one of the individuals that addressed Mr. Summey at the County Council Meeting that you referred to in your article about Councilman Darby.
Your comments showed that you are completely out of touch with black issues in Charleston/North Charleston and around the country in general. You really should not be writing on these topics until you do your job as journalist and get all of your facts straight. When I attended journalism school a decade ago, my professor always taught us to research and report objectively. Since you did not take the time to do that, I’m going to give you the other side of the story so that you can get the full picture.
Below are some quotes from your article followed by my responses to those quotes to give both you and the reader some clarification and understanding.
Brian Hicks (Quote 1)- “…….they were mad at Chairmain Elliott Summey. But really, they were just mad”
Response: Yes we were mad. We were mad at a system that has constantly deprived us of human rights and dignity, that has further deprived us of the right to prosper socially, politically, and economically.
Elliott Summey’s comments were a strict reminder to us that the segregationist mindset that stripped us of our very humanity continues to prevail to this day in Charleston and South Carolina at large. Black people in Charleston have been fully aware of these things but for the first time in 40 years (after it was no longer cool to be a racist publicly), we heard it with our own ears instead of having to experience it in the form of lack of education, police stops and brutality, and the uprooting of our communities (which can also be called Joe Riley 101).
Yes we are mad. But what are we really mad at? We are mad at the racism in Charleston, the racists that continue to enforce racist policies that affect man, woman, and child, and the black people that they use as pawns to sell out their own people to keep this racist system going.
Let me enlighten you on some historical facts going back more than 300 years that still prevail in Charleston to this very day. Then maybe you will see that we aren’t frivolously “just mad”……
- Police Departments (We are mad at them)
Do you know that Charleston/North Charleston spends the majority of their budgets on their police departments? This all started 300 years ago in Colonial Charleston. Back then, what we know today as police departments were called “slave patrols”. They were created to keep black people (both freed and enslaved) in line. They were authorized to capture, beat, maim, rape, or even re-enslave freed black people for virtually any reason. As slavery ended, Charleston was one of the first places in the nation to convert their “slave patrol” into police departments to enforce the Black Codes (Jim Crow), which would virtually enslave black people in Charleston until the 1960s. Many people believe that since the Civil Rights Act was signed that all of these things ended, but that is far from the truth in Charleston.
Lookup the statistics available that can be found of our slave patrols…….excuse me, I mean police departments. In North Charleston, police stops continue to fail to be proportionate to the population. Black people are approximately 47% of the population of North Charleston, while white people are approximately 37% of the population (10% difference). Despite this, black people are stopped by the police 32% more times than white people in North Charleston. No other major city in this state can compare to that racial disparity. Do you know this type of disparity is one of the reasons the Department of Justice was able to take over the police department in Ferguson, Missouri? There is Supreme Court precedent where such racial disparity can be used to prove bias and allow federal agencies to get involved, much like what they had to do all over the South 50 years ago.
The “slave patrol”…..I mean the police department (I’m sorry, sometimes I forget they aren’t slave patrols anymore), alone are enough for us to listen to what Elliott Summey had to say on those tapes and induce us to address him. His words are a reminder that the mentalities of local politicians in 2016 are much similar to the mentalities of Jim Crow era politicians in 1956.
Brian Hicks (Quote 2)- “They said Darby had done nothing for the black community, that he and colleagues Teddie Pryor, Anna Johnson- as well as the NAACP and NAN- had failed to do anything for them……….that is a sad , misguided opinion, part of a widening generational gap………and for making that proclamation, they got a little history lesson- one that people on both sides of the aisle needed to hear.”
Response: That was simply a history lesson that you liked and wanted to hear. The sad thing is that with history, the stories of the oppressed are often unwritten and disregarded. But let me give you a history lesson from the oppressed so that you why our FACTS were not sad, misguided opinions.
- Charleston/North Charleston population:
Elliott Summey admitted that Joe Riley purposely ran black people out of Charleston. He also admitted that Charleston had been 75% black and 25% white in 1975. Today, it is closer to 25% black and 75% white. Now, many of these prominent members of the NAACP and NAN like to talk about their 40 years of experience in the local civil rights movement. Where were they when black people were getting kicked off the peninsula? What were they doing the 30 years while these things were taking place? The same thing has been occurring in North Charleston since around the year 2000. What were they doing as Keith Summey has blatantly pushed black people out even further from Charleston/North Charleston? Where were they when majority black neighborhoods suffered from rezoning and gentrification? What have they done to help the black people being forced out of their homes on Spruill Avenue to make way for a railroad? The $400,000 that is being offered to build a few homes is a slap and is indicative of the slaps they have continued to let happen to the black community.
If you look at the report cards for Charleston county schools, you will find that majority black schools are virtually ALL failing. The county doesn’t offer multiple methods for students at majority black schools to achieve like majority white schools that offer multiple tiers with options to attend college or go into trades. Further, when you look at schools like the Academic Magnet, their black population is so low because majority black schools don’t offer the courses which are prerequisites to even be able to apply to attend that school. So essentially, black students in general are barred from the quality education they may receive at the Academic Magnet. The disproportions in suspension and expulsion rates between black and white children are more than ridiculous. Where has the NAACP and NAN been while this system of “separate but equal” has continued to flourish in Charleston County Schools?………Oops, I’m sorry, “Separate But Equal” was banned in 1954 during Brown vs the Board of Education. Forgive me if I can’t tell because schools today seem equally as segregated as they were in 1954. All of these disparities continue to prevail in Charleston County and around the nation. Where have the NAACP and NAN been to correct this?
The average black income in Charleston/North Charleston is $24,000 (which is below poverty) depending on what your source is. In some areas, the average income in a black neighborhood can be close to $10,000. Income in majority white areas exceeds $50,000 per year (well above the poverty line). Because they have done nothing about the inequities in education, it remains very easy to continue to deprive black people in this area economically as well. Elliott Summey said it out of his own mouth that people in North Charleston can’t get jobs at places like Boeing because of education. What type of programs has the NAACP or NAN put in place to make the state allocate funds to educate some of these poverty stricken people with no criminal records so that they can get decent wages at places like Boeing or the like? What have they done to help these people that they “represent” to help themselves socio-economically? Why do these issues continue to persist if the NAACP and NAN have been doing their job?
As a final point, statistics show the abuses of the police department on the black community going back DECADES! What have the NAACP and NAN done to address this issue which still exists to this day? My point is that our accusations against the NAACP and NAN ARE NOT opinions. They are statistical FACTS! If anything is a misguided opinion, it’s your misguided editorial which contained zero facts, outside of your skewed opinion.
You went on to talk about Mr. Darby’s fight against his internal hatred and how his followings of Martin Luther King delivered him. Martin Luther King helped us get integration and he taught us love, but this society didn’t return that love. Society desegregated schools but still achieved segregation by redrawing district lines (hence why in 2016 you can still have almost all black or almost all white schools), police departments continued to disproportionately profile and criminalize black people (every statistic in the world shows this), public assistance agencies continued to force black mothers to sterilize themselves so they couldn’t have children (Mecklenburg county (Charlotte) is notorious for this), and black income has continued a downward spiral and continues to plummet every year (it worsens when you adjust for inflation). We hit our economic peak in 1983 and fell off the map from then on. So you see, you champion King but this society found a way around the equality he fought and died for. We are in the same state that we were in when Lyndon B. Johnson passed federal laws to forever end racism in 1964………..#FAIL
Why should we follow King’s example when society compromised everything he fought for 50 years ago. This is another problem with the NAACP and NAN. They continue to follow a policy and belief that was compromised and nullified by white supremacists 50 years ago. That’s sad. Why didn’t America follow Martin Luther King’s message of forgiveness after 9/11? We are told to “never forget” that. How many innocent people died in Afghanistan and Iraq behind that? When someone does something to someone non black, this country surely gets pretty vindictive. But when it happens to black people, it’s never a message of “Never Forget”. It’s a message of forgiveness. You tell us that Jesus would forgive so we must forgive. Double standard? I think so.
Brian Hicks (Quote 3)- “Darby also noted Summey’s grandfather, Miner Crosby, took him to his first Democratic Party meeting and got him involved in politics”.
Response: David Duke (former grand wizard of the KKK) was a Democrat. Senator Robert Byrd (former KKK member) was a Democrat. Strom Thurmond (former segregationist and pathological racist) was a Democrat. George Wallace (former segregationist and pathological racist) was a Democrat. And guess what? All of these people were Democrats when Miner Crosby was a Democrat. Am I supposed to be impressed by this party affiliation? Historically, the Democratic Party has supported racism, segregation, and before the 1960s was anti-black in everything. In fact, it was the Democratic Party that brought the Jim Crow system to the South and used it to re-enslave and terrorize black people for 80 years. Ben Tillman, former Governor of this state, was the most well known Democrat of his era and on his death bed remained proud of the countless black people he terrorized and lynched. And sadly, he has a statue on the State House grounds. As far as Miner Crosby mentoring Mr. Darby, I will cite a famous quote about Southerners……………. “in the South, we hate the race but love the individual.”
Brian Hicks (Quote 4)- “Angry people will say Darby was simply talking about appeasement, but he wasn’t. He was trying to teach the audience about the need to avoid stereotypes, to talk to one another, and not give into hate that is tearing this country apart”.
Response: Elliott Summey himself admitted that South Carolina politics is about controlling race. Did you even listen to the tapes? Sorry but Charleston/North Charleston has a long history (which is proven by statistics) of NOT avoiding stereotypes, of NOT talking to or explaining their racially biased acts, and of giving into the hate that is tearing this country apart. Maybe you should shake your finger at this city, county, and state because available data shows them to be guilty of the tearing apart of this country that you describe above.
Brian Hicks (Quote 5)- “We need people who are going to preach diplomacy and common ground, someone who will ease tensions, not ramp them up”
Response: When this city, county, and state show diplomacy and common ground, as well as do their part to ease racial tensions, then maybe the people won’t get ramped up. We’ve been waiting for 400 years for them to show us something different. Please send me the memo when they decide to take your advice.
Mr. Hicks, you are extremely out of touch when it comes to the plight of black people in Charleston/North Charleston and where our anger is rooted. My advice to you is to hold off on writing articles of about how black people should conduct themselves in the face of insults and racism until you educate yourself more on the topic. Assumptions have never helped to solve anything, especially these types of subjects. Only knowledge, tangible solutions, and actions solve anything. If you want to help us and this community, use your ability to report the news to hold those accountable who fail to do their civic duties and refuse to represent everybody.
Sean Terrell Middleton
Nullification Party of Charleston