A powerful op-ed from The State newspaper by state Sen. John Matthews. (I wonder if he sent it to the Post and Courier. I haven’t seen it!) As Matthews points out, quite accurately, the GOP Voter ID Bill is all about keeping blacks from the polls and nothing more. It is not about preventing voter fraud, because there is no voter fraud in South Carolina — certainly not enough to warrant disenfranchising 178,000 voters. That’s the number of people who will effectively lose the right to vote in this state under this law, according to the Associate Press. www.thesunnews.com/news/local/story/1285109.html

To see the full State op-ed, go to webmail.aol.com/30462-111/aol-1/en-us/Lite/MsgRead.aspx?folder=NewMail&uid=1.26792117&seq=6&searchIn=none&searchQuery=&start=0&sort=received

On a sunny day, the monuments of war heroes and other historic South Carolinians cast long shadows over all who walk beneath them on the State House grounds.

For legislators, no monument casts a shadow longer than that of “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman and his legacy as the architect of our current form of government.

Tillman was one of South Carolina’s earliest segregationists. A former governor and U.S. senator, Tillman helped craft our 1895 state Constitution to make it unlikely that a black person would become South Carolina’s chief executive. If by chance a black person did become governor, he or she would be ineffective because Tillman and others stripped the position of virtually all power and gave it to the Legislature.

As Tillman explained to his U.S. Senate colleagues, it was purely a matter of race and numbers: South Carolina had 135,000 “negroes of voting age” and 90,000 to 95,000 white voters. “Now, I want to ask you,” Tillman said in a March 1900 speech before the U.S. Senate, “with a free vote and a fair count, how are you going to beat 135,000 by 95,000? How are you going to do it? You had set us an impossible task.”

Well, ol’ Ben found a way to disenfranchise black voters. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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