January 12, 2020

Article at Graham on Authory

Delaine

OPINION

 

A racial injustice in South Carolina

is laid to rest 45 years after the fact

 

By GRAHAM OSTEEN

Editor and Publisher

 

On Tuesday afternoon, an amazing thing happened in the town of Summerton, South Carolina. First some background.

The late Rev. J.A. DeLaine of Summerton ultimately helped lead the fight for the integration of schools in this country. It started in Clarendon County with the Briggs vs. Elliot petition. This laid the groundwork for the famous Brown vs. the Board of Education case in Topeka, Kan., which forced the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court to end separate schools for black and white children.

Rev. DeLaine was run out of Clarendon County, and he became pastor of a church in Lake City. He was not a popular man, and on Oct. 10, 1955, a group shot into his home. Fearing for his family’s safety, DeLaine shot back and was ultimately forced to run for his life.

There was a warrant issued for his arrest, and because of that warrant he was never able to return to his native state. He died in 1974 in New York.

What happened Tuesday was the righting of a 45-year-old wrong. The warrant for the arrest of the Rev. J.A. DeLaine on charges of assault and battery with intent to kill was disposed of.

Sonny Dubose, a South Carolina writer and historian, has been instrumental in making this happen. Sonny is an amazing man. I’ve known him for years. He’s this big, strong, former football-playing white guy who can suddenly break down crying just talking about the injustices done to blacks in his state. It hurts him more personally than any person I’ve ever met.

At the ceremony, he said the example DeLaine set in fighting for equal education for all the children in South Carolina represents the best of humanity.

 “(DeLaine) took the leadership role, and he was a mentor before that word came into being,” he said. “This is a great event in America today because it’s justice, recognition, a great, great submission for the right principles. For people of principle, if you remain committed and you don’t lose focus, it can happen, and justice has prevailed in South Carolina.”

Annie Gibson, the last remaining petitioner from the Briggs vs. Elliot suit, was asked what this should mean for young people in South Carolina.

“We had this struggle just for them to help them in the days to come,” she said.

We can only hope that all children, black and white, recognize and appreciate how hard it was to get to this point. What I see are far too many kids who aren’t taking advantage of the educational opportunities available to them, teachers who are overburdened and parents who don’t care enough to understand their own kids’ lack of progress.

We can talk about it in racial terms, which makes most people combative and uncomfortable, but there’s more to it than that in the year 2000. Lazy, stupid people come in all colors, and they are not good citizens. The worst kids in our schools are the products of just such unaccountable parents.

If the Rev. J.A. DeLaine were alive today, I think he’d tell us all to take advantage of what we have and quit making excuses for failure.

 

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