‘Our Family Went from Cotton to Congress’: Tim Scott Celebrates America’s Racial Progress during Convention Speech

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) speaks to the 2020 Republican National Convention in a live address from the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C., August 24, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Senator Tim Scott on Monday rebuked Democrats for what he described as their bleak outlook on race relations in the U.S. and shared his family’s story as a testimony to the progress the country has made.

“We don’t give in to cancel culture or the radical, factually baseless belief that things are worse today than in the 1860s or the 1960s,” said Scott, who is the lone black Republican in the Senate, during his address to the Republican National Convention Monday evening. “We have work to do, but I believe in the goodness of America, the promise that all men and all women are created equal.”

The South Carolina senator’s grandfather, who Scott said would have turned 99 tomorrow, “had to cross the street if a white person was coming. He suffered the indignity of being forced out of school as a third-grader to pick cotton, and he never learned to read and write. Yet he lived long enough to see his grandson become the first African American to be elected to both the United States House and the United States Senate in the history of this country,” Scott said. “Our family went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime.”

Continuing his optimistic note on the progress of race relations in the country, Scott credited his initial election to the House as a representative from South Carolina before he ran for Senate to the “evolution of the Southern heart.”

“In an overwhelmingly white district, the voters judged me not on the color of my skin but on the content of my character,” Scott said. “We live in a world that only wants you to believe in the bad news, racially, economically, and culturally polarizing news. The truth is, our nation’s arc always bends back towards fairness.”

In June, Scott led Senate Republicans in introducing their police-reform bill and criticized Democrats for what he saw as their relentless focus on race, advocating a discrete approach to policy solutions designed to address police brutality. Democratic senator Dick Durbin dismissed Scott’s efforts as a “token, half-hearted approach,” a remark for which he later apologized.

Scott also said Monday night that he believes the current administration has built the “most inclusive economy ever,” noting that many new jobs created during the Trump administration have gone to minorities.

“We are not fully where we want to be, but I thank God almighty, we are not where we used to be. We are always striving to be better. When we stumble, and we will, we pick ourselves back up and try again,” Scott said.

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