COLUMBIA -- A third-party gubernatorial candidate is lashing out at South Carolina's political establishment, saying he is not getting the attention he deserves because of racism, hypocritical black leaders and censorship under a two-party system.
In an effort to grab attention, Morgan Reeves picketed Wednesday in front of a federal building named after the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, demanding that Thurmond's name be removed from it and other buildings and parks across the state.
As the 51-year-old divorced father of three rebuked others, his demands and claims raised questions about his own biography.
Reeves will be listed twice on the ballot, with the Green and United Citizens parties. As of July he had less than $500 in campaign cash. He said there's a direct connection between his treatment and Thurmond's racism more than 60 years ago as he ran for president as a Dixiecrat.
Reeves said it doesn't matter that Thurmond later renounced his segregationist views during decades in the U.S. Senate, or that he was revered across the political spectrum by the time he died seven years ago.
"His ways have influenced legislators in the state of South Carolina. For instance, right now, I am sitting here, an African-American running for governor, and they don't even ask me my opinions."
Reeves, who is also running for a Lexington-Richland school board seat, is quick to blame discrimination for his not getting the same attention as Republican Nikki Haley and Democrat Vincent Sheheen.
He has called reporters racist and demanded their resignations, and disparaged black politicians and ministers for backing Sheheen, who is white, saying such behavior turns back the civil rights movement.
"African-Americans who live on the plantation will vote for him. They are the Uncle Toms," he said this week.
Reeves said he is the only candidate who can bring races together. He is convinced that if black voters saw him in debates, they would vote for him en-masse, and he would win in this conservative state because Republicans love him too.
Yet his platform includes ending tax incentives for corporations -- blaming them for poverty and crime -- and requiring any companies coming to South Carolina to meet new expectations, such as his idea that banks waive residents' debts.
He wants to encourage labor unions and complaints against the police. He wants year-round schooling, funded through voluntary $100 donations. Students would learn to build ethanol and solar plants, grow vegetables as fuel, and lay a 550 mph high-speed rail linking every city, possibly on plastic tracks, he said.
"I'm going to invest in the children of South Carolina and they will work as if they're building the pyramids of Egypt," he said, later explaining that he meant they will learn trades and have a better work ethic.
Reeves said his work on the football field, behind the pulpit and in business demonstrate why he should be governor.
The owner of a land-clearing company, he played football at Irmo High and Michigan State. He frequently cites his time in the NFL, saying he was drafted by the Detroit Lions and played for the Baltimore Colts.
But neither team has any record of him. Asked about that, he acknowledged he never played in the regular season, saying he didn't recover from a late-hit injury and operation. Newspaper articles show he played in the preseason for the Colts in 1982, and the team briefly signed him again in 1984, but cut him again by June after he failed a physical.
He said it worked out well, because he went on to be senior pastor at five small churches. But he said he left the African Methodist Episcopal ministry about a decade ago, upset that church leaders didn't appreciate him.
He does not regularly attend any church now, he said, and accused some black pastors of being "pimps in their pulpits" for the way they raise money.
A spokesman for the local AME district did not return messages.
He said he learned the hard way that people should live frugally. Records show that he was in bankruptcy several times.
"As a pro football player, I had three Rolls Royces and lived in a million-dollar estate in Irmo," he said.
A picture of his dream house, a four-column antebellum home, is featured on his website, though he hasn't lived there in a decade. Records show that he didn't own it long, and according to bankruptcy filings it was worth far less than $1 million.
No one is spared from his criticism. He is upset with U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and other South Carolina Democrats for asking surprise Democratic primary winner Alvin Greene to get out of the Senate race after it was reported that Greene faces a felony count of showing pornography to a college student.
Clyburn said last week he will not vote for Greene. His office did not comment on Reeves.
Reeves weighs Greene's legal troubles against Thurmond's fathering a child with a teenage black maid in his parents' home. Upon Thurmond's death, then-78-year-old Essie Mae Washington Williams came forward as the biracial daughter of the state's longest-serving senator.
"They want Alvin Greene to step down for just showing a picture, and is Alvin Greene less than Strom Thurmond?" Reeves said.
A retired juvenile justice chaplain with whom Reeves volunteered for a couple of years said Reeves means well, but he can't handle problems well.
"He is as sincere as days are long," said James Pilgrim of Columbia. "I don't think he would be a good governor, but I think he has the right to run."