Scott creates MLK Day videos, hopes to rebut Biden speech

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — With a video series on issues he sees as pertinent to the Black community, the U.S. Senate’s only Black Republican, Tim Scott of South Carolina, is putting forth what he characterizes as a positive response to partisan rhetoric on race that he’s best-positioned to rebut.

But that approach comes with some harsh words about President Joe Biden’s recent rhetoric.

In conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Scott told The Associated Press that he hoped recent constituent roundtables on topics like building generational wealth would refocus a fraught national conversation on race. The current climate, Scott said, was only exacerbated by Biden’s recent voting rights speech, which Scott called “misleading.”

For Scott, the speech was an overly impassioned stretch, or worse.

“To compare or conflate people who oppose his positions as being racists and traitors to the country is not only insulting and infuriating, it’s dead wrong,” Scott told the AP last week. “All you have to do is know the facts, and you realize that the president wasn’t misleading us only, he was actually fibbing to us, in order to amass political power — basically lying to us.”

Instead, the South Carolina Republican is framing his half-dozen videos, to be released between this week and the end of February’s Black History Month, as listening sessions that hit on many hard-pressed topics he knows first-hand.

Describing himself as “a guy that grew up in a single-parent household, mired in poverty, with really no prospect for something dramatically different,” Scott said that his own trajectory was turned around due to education, his supportive mother and mentorship.

“Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy, and the celebration of his life, and the contributions of African Americans to this country, is a very important time for us to highlight the progress that we’ve made and also some of the issues that stand in the way of even more progress,” Scott said. “I decided that the best way to do that is not just to hear from me but to actually listen to other folks throughout the community.”

Relying on the constituent concerns from his videos, Scott said he’s just as intent on finding more ways to encourage lasting economic changes in underserved and minority communities as he is on potentially more attention-grabbing issues like policing.

“So often, when you read the press and you’re talking about minorities, you’re particularly talking about issues around poverty or lack of access and not really focusing on the positive side or the constructive side,” Scott said. “That needs more attention.”