I offer the following in response to the comments made by Dwayne Green in his Charleston City Paper column ("A Bad Idea: Sen. Ford's letter to Boeing is the wrong message at the wrong time," Nov. 25)
When Boeing and Vought Aeronautics decided to relocate to Charleston several years ago, two of their officials met with me for several hours regarding whether they should come to South Carolina in light of the Confederate flag issue. They stated that they knew that I had sponsored the legislation that put the flag at its present location. I was able to convince them that it would serve them well to come to Charleston and, particularly, the proposed site in my district. Once again, I was on the cutting edge of positive things that have transpired during my lifetime. This meeting on the Confederate flag issue with Boeing and Vought has never been made public.
I was the only African American out of several hundred thousands of people who observed the raising of the H. L. Hunley Submarine. When the General Assembly decided to petition the Navy to keep the submarine, I lobbied Sen. Glenn McConnell to keep it at the Charleston Navy Shipyard. Thousands of African Americans resented the concept of a black senator participating in any activities related to the Confederacy.
Last week, it was announced that the Navy base which is located in Senate District 42, was on the verge of gaining 20,000 plus jobs as a result of the H. L. Hunley. Once again, I was on the cutting edge of things that happen in my lifetime that help make a major difference in the lives of everyday people.
When I wrote the letter to the CEO of Boeing on behalf of the S.C. Legislative Black Caucus and as chairman of the Affirmative Action and Civil Rights Committee, it was not supposed to be made public. It was an entire month after the writing of the letter that Yvonne Wenger, a Post & Courier reporter, ran a story about the letter. She was the only the only eporter with whom I discussed the letter after it was made public. I turned down 17 television interviews and 11 radio talk show interviews.
If this was an effort to gain publicity for my candidacy for governor, I would not have turned down the interviews. I can assure you, Boeing expected this letter based on the political and work force demographics of South Carolina.
I find it shocking that Mr. Green with all of his education is not astute enough to know the enormous sacrifices made for him by others. The Civil Rights Movement was fought and won to give him the freedom and dignity to allow him to be a proud man. For those of you who are interested in the process that evolved to open the doors, I would be more than happy to conduct a series of workshops to apprise you of the many sacrifices that were made.
My brother, you ran for Senate District 42. You ran to represent people for which you obviously have so little respect. We would never approach a company or business on diversity without the number one goal of hiring fully qualified applicants.
In closing, let me answer a question that many of your white colleagues always ask me: "Senator, with all that you have done for black people and this country, why don't they support you when you run for office?" Mr. Green, your column and your response, is the answer to that question. You are the reason why, now, they don't have to ask that question any more. The people that benefit the most from the things that we in the movement fought and went to jail for usually don't have a clue. Apparently, they lack the knowledge or regard for what we as pioneers did.
Since South Carolina's incentive package to Boeing equates to over a half-billion of dollars, to ask equality and fair play is not playing the race card. Constructive dialogue is positive, and those who think otherwise are shortsighted and buried in self-hatred.
By the way, Mr. Green, you are correct, I don't have any money for my governor's campaign, but I am still leading in the polls.