EDITORS NOTE: Each day of the Democratic National Convention, The Post and Courier will feature a different delegate representing the Palmetto State.
BY EMMA DUMAIN
PHILADELPHIA — State Sen. Margie Bright Matthews was at a Trial Lawyers’ Association conference in Montreal when she announced she would run to succeed the late Sen. Clementa Pinckney, a close friend who was among the nine gunned down last year in the Emanuel AME Church shooting.
“We were supposed to have lunch the next week so we could work on his reelection bid,” Matthews recalled. “Needless to say, when I realized what had happened that night, and after trying to reach him via text and getting really frantic, going through a myriad of emotions over the next week or so, I decided it was time.
“Yes, I was angry,” she said. “But I was resolute that I had to do something.”
Matthews posted news of her candidacy on Facebook on July 1. By the time she arrived home on July 10, her daughters had set up her website, planned a campaign kickoff event and set up a PayPal account for contributions.
“They were working on my logo by the time I got back.”
Her oldest daughter, Jessica Bright, was especially bitten by the politics bug by helping her mother run her successful campaign. According to Matthews, Bright went on to start a young Democrats’ organization in Walterboro.
“She was a year old when I entered law school as a single mom,” Matthews said of her daughter. “She has a son who is 10 years old. But she’s very driven, and she is very socially conscious of what’s going on in the community. I just never realized that she wanted to be politically active. She has always been worried about crime and what the young folks are doing with themselves.
“As a single mom, I went to law school. She went to public school. I took her out of private school, into public school, so she has seen the differences in the two types of education, and why it’s so important that we try to help the folks here in Walterboro in public school and help them in our community.”
And when Matthews went to put herself in the running to be a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, she found that Bright already had beaten her to the sign-up sheet.
“Colleton County hadn’t have many delegates at all,” Matthews said, “and now we have two: A mom and daughter.”
Matthews also said that being in Philadelphia for the nomination of Hillary Clinton, the first woman to lead a major party ticket, was thrilling. Back when Matthews was admitted to the South Carolina bar in 1989, she said the state had fewer than 150 female attorneys practicing law.
“This opens the door to a lot of women,” Matthews said.
Emma Dumain is The Post and Courier’s Washington correspondent.