From ‘victim’ to ‘victor,’ Sen. Tim Scott shares his life’s story

 U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., returned to his roots Thursday, speaking at Wagener-Salley High’s Black History Month program.

Scott’s family is from nearby Salley. His mother still owns property there.

“Every family reunion I went to early on brought us back to the land of the Chitlin’ Strut. Had a good time,” said Scott, whose family later moved to North Charleston.

During his motivational speech, Scott told the student’s his life story and how he became a victor instead of a victim.

He recounted how he failed four subjects as a freshman in high school.

“I was on the wrong side, not of the tracks, but my own potential,” Scott said. “I was totally lost, flunking out of school, going nowhere very quickly.”

He failed world geography and civics.

“Civics is the study of politics. Now, that is problematic,” Scott said. “I may be the first United States Senator who ever failed civics.”

He also failed English and Spanish.

“Now, when you fail Spanish and English, they do not call you bilingual. They call you ‘bi-ignant’ because you can’t speak in any language,” Scott said.

Two of Scott’s best friends died young. One was shot through the chest, he said, and was buried before he was 20. Another died in a drug transaction. A third spent 84 months in prison.

“I was losing the internal war with myself. I was on the same road as my friends, but what happened that made me different? It wasn’t that I had better stuff because I don’t,” Scott said. “I’m a boy from North Charleston who struggled, but what I had was people who believed in me enough to look me in the eyes and tell me I could do better.”

And a mother who believed in him, too, Scott said.

“My mama was a brave woman. I thank God for a woman who knows how to pray,” he said. “She introduced me to a new form of encouragement, something called a switch. Anybody familiar with the switch? A switch is a Southern apparatus of encouragement. It is applied from belt to you ankles, and I was thoroughly encouraged to go to summer school.”

After freshman year, Scott said he changed his friends, started going to class and earned a football scholarship to Presbyterian College.

“I got an education,” he said. “Ten years later, I opened a business and went in to politics to try to make a difference because so many people saw something in me that I could not see in myself and decided to invest their time, energy and talent to make me a better person.”

Scott told the students today’s talent is in America’s schools.

“The most talented people in this nation are in somebody’s classroom, they’re not in Washington, and I know Washington,” he said. “You all have amazing potential that goes undiscovered sometimes, but I’m here to tell you that the future is as bright as you’re willing to make I.”

To end, Scott told the students, “You can be the difference” to the challenges – the internal and external wars – that America is facing now.

“We’re having dozens of tough conversations that have been delayed for decades that we’re having now from school shootings to racial challenges to economic instability to outstanding debt to North Korea, Iran and folks who may want to blow us up. This is an interesting time to be alive,” he said. “And what you guys and gals are going through on a daly basis, I can’t imagine, but I do know that each and every one of you can be the difference for somebody.

“Take the time to make someone feel special. Take the time to make someone feel loved. And take the time to make sure that somebody includes you, and if it does, our nation will win this war.”