NY Post: How Tim Scott rose from poverty to become our only black GOP senator
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) discussed his life story and path to becoming a conservative leader in a recent interview with Salena Zito for the New York Post. Read excerpts from the interview below.
How Tim Scott rose from poverty to become our only black GOP senator
The New York Post
By Salena Zito
May 28, 2022
Tim Scott knows the hassle that comes with being both black and conservative. Recently “The View” host Sunny Hostin said that being a black Republican is an oxymoron, and Scott, who is the only black Republican in the US senate, just shook his head.
“The comments are ridiculous,” he said.
The GOP has “championed causes for underserved communities and minority communities that have been really hammered under President Biden,” he said, before pointing to rising inflation and how the average person can barely afford to put gas in the car, use energy in their house, pay for their health care and take care of any other expenses.
“Contrast that against what happened when we were in the majority for 2016 to 2020, where we saw African American unemployment go to the lowest level ever recorded in the history of the country,” he said.
“The only question I have for those pundits on TV is why aren’t they conservative?” he asked.
The Seacoast Church in nearby Mount Pleasant is “the most powerful force in my adult life,” added Scott of the Christian congregation that had less than 1,000 members when he joined in 1997 and now boasts over 25,000.
Despite having risen to become the most prominent elected black Republican in the country, Tim Scott has never forgotten where he came from. After his parents separated when he was a child, he grew up sharing a single bedroom with his mother and older brother in North Charleston.
His home — which was little more than a shack — was located on a dirt road. Scott said his mother worked double shifts as a nursing assistant at a Charleston hospital, and his grandfather left school in third grade to pick cotton. Even though he was illiterate, his grandfather would hold up the newspaper to “read” in front of his young grandsons just to instill the importance of knowledge and education in them.
“My grandfather … had a passion for progress that was palpable,” Scott said.
“My grandmother who cleaned houses taught me the importance of a work ethic and individual responsibility, and my mom, who is my true ultimate American hero … she taught me the dignity of work.”
“Yet all three of them were always laughing and joyful, even in the midst of poverty as if to suggest that your circumstances don’t determine your outcome. There’s something on the inside of you that is more powerful than the circumstances around you and that really is the basis of my happy warrior approach,” said Scott, 56, who is not married and has no kids of his own.
“The one thing all three of those powerful people had in common was the importance of faith. Through faith, all things were possible.”
Nothing remains of the place his family called home except the dirt and gravel from the old road, but poverty still remains in the neighborhood — and the crime that goes along with it. Which is why Scott said he always keeps his mind on “people who live on the edges.”
“Not just because I’m black but because [of] my lived experience as a person in poverty, living paycheck to paycheck. Coming home and the phone not working. Coming home and the electricity is not always on, coming home and sometimes being hungry with no food coming that night.
“That experience … is now one of the reasons why I fight the way I do for people living in tough communities. I don’t really care whether you’re a white person in rural South Carolina or whether you are someone living on the border in Texas, a Hispanic, or someone living … in one of the inner cities and you’re black,” he said.
Every day, he asks himself, is the American dream real for him? “And then I put myself in those different shoes so that I know that the answer is yes. And that’s my responsibility.”
“My mission statement is to positively impact the lives of a billion people with a message of open opportunity,” Scott said.
As for being the only black Republican in the US Senate, Scott deadpans, “Let’s not forget that the Democrats only have two black senators. Let’s not pretend our margins are drastically different.”
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