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Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson  AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File

Housing Secretary Dr. Ben Carson has canceled his appearance as the keynote speaker at the Charleston County Republican Party's second annual black history recognition event next week.

Party Chairman Larry Kobrovsky said the local political group learned of the change late Wednesday that will prevent Carson from being in Charleston. 

The news comes one week after the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history.

"Due to scheduling, Dr. Carson will be serving the president and the American people," Kobrovsky said the Charleston Republican group was told by Carson's office. 

No replacement has been announced for the second annual Black History Month Celebration.

"Every challenge presents an opportunity. I see this as an opportunity for us to now more fully focus on the wonderful people we are honoring. After all, the event is meant as a tribute to them and their contributions," Kobrovsky told The Post and Courier.

Carson was named Housing and Urban Development secretary by President Donald Trump. He previously was a 2016 GOP candidate for president but dropped out in early March after conceding he didn't see "a political path forward" as his campaign fell apart.

Despite the loss of the high-profile speaker, Kobrovsky said he is hopeful the event will sell out.

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"It will be a slightly different evening than originally planned, but it does not make it any less worthy," he said.

The organization’s celebration of black history will include recognition of several civic leaders, including Ken Battle, the commissioner for South Carolina Minority Affairs; the Rev. Dr. Eric Mack, chairman of the Charleston County School Board; Tamara Curry, Charleston County associate probate judge; Art Gilliard, director of Art Forms and Theatre Concepts; and former state Rep. Samuel Rivers Jr.

The event is 6-9 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Holliday Alumni Center, 69 Hagood St.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.