S.C. DNC delegate spotlight: Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines


Each day of the Democratic National Convention, The Post and Courier will feature a different delegate representing the Palmetto State.

PHILADELPHIA — Ra Shad Frazier-Gaines said he was always known as the “weird kid,” the “crazy kid.”

But vindication came last November in an unexpected form when Frazier-Gaines was asked to introduce a Democratic presidential contender during a rally at the University of South Carolina-Aiken.

“I feel like my hometown doesn’t know me,” he said. “It was thrilling to introduce a bona fide, legitimate candidate for president in my hometown in front of my family and friends. It was a really big honor, and I was grateful to do that.”

That candidate was Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist who might be considered, like Frazier-Gaines, an outlier in South Carolina politics.

In aligning himself with the Vermont senator, however, Frazier-Gaines was showing Aiken exactly the person he himself had become. He describes himself as “activist,” “blunt” and “in your face.”

At 30, he is the chairman of the Black Caucus of Young Democrats of America and a graduate student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He developed his “progressive” politics during the course of his upbringing in the Pentecostal Holiness Church, where his takeaway more than anything else was “Jesus is love.”

As a pledged delegate for Sanders, Frazier-Gaines has no interest in entertaining the possibility that he could soon be forced to choose between Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, and Republican Donald Trump.

“I am prepared to vote for the candidate that best represents what I believe is important for the next president. And hopefully Hillary Clinton will embrace those ideas and things that are important to me before November,” he said. “We’re saying to the Democratic Party, ‘If you want our votes, you need to fix some things.’ ”

Emma Dumain is The Post and Courier’s Washington correspondent.