Tim Scott, the U.S. Senate's sole black Republican who has been outspoken on issues of race during the Donald Trump presidency, will headline the Charleston County Republican Party's second annual Black History Month event Friday.
Party Chairman Larry Kobrovsky said the program plans were finalized late Monday.
The local political group found itself scrambling to find a replacement speaker last week after learning U.S. Housing Secretary Dr. Ben Carson would be unable to headline the event as originally planned.
"We wanted to have somebody transcendent," Kobrovsky told The Post and Courier. "This event is in its crucial second year, and we wanted to make sure it remained memorable and inspirational."
Kobrovsky credits Maurice Washington, first vice chairman of the Charleston party, for getting Scott to come and speak on such short notice.
Scott, who grew up in nearby North Charleston, returns to South Carolina this week after he has become the Senate's go-to arbitrator on race relations under the Trump administration in recent years.
In the past year alone, Scott has voted down two high-profile judicial nominees due to what he viewed as "questionable track records on race." In a Washington Post op-ed, Scott urged his Republican colleagues to stop putting such nominees forward and called on the GOP to do better on issues of race.
Scott also met one-on-one with the president after Trump cast blame on "all sides" for a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017.
"He sees this as an opportunity. I think he feels he has something important to say and will speak from the heart. That's who he is and who he has always been," Kobrovsky said.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Scott opened up about his decision to speak out on issues of race in recent years.
"I am not 'the black senator.' I am not 'the black Republican,'" Scott told the national news outlet. "I am a United States senator with the responsibilities of every other senator, and in addition to that, I have the unusual position of being the only conservative African-American in the Senate."
Kobrovsky also confirmed the updated program lineup will also include two additional speakers.
Lt. Gov. Pam Evette will open the event and the Rev. Eric Manning of Charleston's Emanuel AME Church will serve as the inspirational closer, Kobrovsky 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. Friday at the Holliday Alumni Center, 69 Hagood St.