Aired Sept 5 – Clemson Prof. Orville Vernon Burton on my discussion with South Carolina Reps Horne and Neal

Today on Equal Time for Freethought… after my recent interview with South Carolina Representatives Jenny Horne (R) and Joseph Neal (D) on the Confederate Flag, voter ID laws, and religious tolerance, ETFF digs a bit deeper and speaks with life-long South Carolinian and Clemson University professor, Orville Vernon Burton.

Professor Burton is an expert on the South, focusing on race relations, the Civil War, and the civil rights movement. He has written numerous books including The Age of Lincoln, has provided expert testimony in high profile voter ID cases including the South Carolina v Holder 2011 case, has previously served as president of the Southern Historical Association and the Agricultural History Society, and has received myriad awards for his work.

Prof. Burton listened to our show with the SC representatives, and gives us his take on the program as we address the issues of culture, law, and history of the South.


“There is a long history of when there is a perceived threat by whichever party is in power, Democrats or Republicans or it could be Martians as far as I’m concerned, you see that literally they bring in restrictive laws to someway disadvantage African American or minority voters…” – Vernon Burton

Robert Smalls – Member of South Carolina House (1868-1870), South Carolina Senate (1870-1874), US House (1882-1887)

“In 1895, African Americans were still voting. They were electing people like Robert Smalls, the black civil war hero, to Congress, and in certain areas they had power and could make a difference. You had the third party political movement commonly known as the Populist party, that is the People’s party which was calling in many places for allowing African Americans to vote and doing fusion tickets with the Republican party.” – Vernon Burton

The recent South Carolina voter ID laws “would not allow a South Carolina State government ID and they would not allow student ID’s… and it’s very clear that is because there are a larger proportion of African Americans who have those. The classic one is Texas, where they allow a gun permit but not a State of Texas or student permit for voting and the statistics there are very clear.” – Vernon Burton

“It is a tragedy I think that the grand party of Abraham Lincoln, started with Barry Goldwater, Strom Thurmond’s changing to the Republican Party, then with the Southern Strategy of Richard Nixon and you move from there to Ronald Reagan’s speech at Neshoba County, Mississippi where he talks about state’s rights, that the Republican Party in the South decided to become the party of white people and identify the Democrats as the party of black people. So it’s become so that you can hardly separate partisan politics from race itself because to disadvantage the Democratic party, you disadvantage minority voters.” – Vernon Burton

“I’ll tell you, these politicians who have taken issues like race and who have taken issues such as abortion and gay rights or women’s rights and use those in a religious context to manipulate people to often vote against their own economic and social interests, if there’s not a hell for them, I’m not gonna be happy in heaven.” – Vernon Burton

My newest interview with Reps Jenny Horne and Joseph Neal on the Confederate Flag

Confederate_Rebel_Flag.svgListen Here The state of South Carolina has taken a positive step towards combating discrimination as state representatives came together to remove the Confederate flag from the State House lawn. But other potentially discriminatory practices, such as voter ID laws and South Carolina’s constitutional prohibition on non-theists holding public office, remain intact. Matthew LaClair speaks with two members of the house of representatives, white Republican Jenny Horne and black Democrat Joseph Neal, who came together on the issue of the Confederate flag, while disagreeing vehemently on issues such as the voter ID laws.

Be sure to join us for our post-show discussion with Professor Orville Vernon Burton, who delivered expert testimony on behalf of the Department of Justice on the issue of South Carolina’s voter ID bill.

Jenny Horne

Jenny Horne

Republican - South Carolina House of Representatives

Jenny Horne is serving her fourth term in the South Carolina House of Representatives for House District 94 in Dorchester and Charleston Counties.  She serves on the Judiciary Committee where she chairs the Special Laws Subcommittee.  In 2013, Rep. Horne was elected by her peers to serve on the House Ethics Committee.

Representative Horne is the managing partner of the Jenny Horne Law Firm, LLC in Summerville where she practices in the areas of real estate, family law, employment law, and general litigation.  She is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina Honors College and a 1997 graduate of the USC School of Law.  After graduation, she clerked for federal trial Judge Margaret Beane Seymour.  She and her husband Marc live in Summerville with their two children and their spoiled Maltese Baxter.

You may recognize Rep. Horne from the passionate speech she delivered on the floor of the house on the Confederate flag issue. Matthew asks her about this speech, her views on the Confederate flag both before and after the shooting in Charleston, SC, her justification for passing a voter ID law that was proposed just a few weeks after the first black president was sworn into office, and her views on the South Carolina constitution.

Rev. Joseph Neal

Rev. Joseph Neal

Democrat - South Carolina House of Representatives

Joseph Neal is a Democratic member of the South Carolina house of representatives. Rev. Neal was chairman of the South Carolina Black Legislative Caucus back in 2000, when citizens gathered before the State House demanding that the Confederate flag be removed from the State House dome. The decision to remove it from the dome to a flag pole out front was challenged by Neal and the Black legislative caucus, where it remained until last month. Matthew discusses this experience with Rev. Neal, and asks him about the walkout staged by the 2009 Legislative Black Caucus in opposition to the voter ID bill.

Rev. Neal is Minister and Vice President of New Horizons Systems and Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church. He is the founder of Area Communities in Economic Development and Rural Sumter Communities for Economic Development, two non-profit community development organizations and co-founder of the South Carolina Environmental Watch Network.  His numerous affiliations include membership in the NAACP, Moving Forward Community Group, Lower Richland Water Authority, Lower Richland Community Council and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.  He serves as Chairman of the Citizens for Hopkins Neighborhood Associations; co-chair of the South Carolina Progressive Network, a statewide grass roots organization; and as a board member of the Carolina Peace Resource Center.

Imposing Science on Others Since 2006

Here it is, my first blog post. My intention is to write more substantive pieces than this one, but I suppose a funny, personal piece is an acceptable way to start.

I received a message on Facebook recently in regards to the documentary (watch here) on the battle between myself and my junior year US History teacher who told us in class that evolution and the big bang are false and unscientific, that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s Ark, and that if we reject Jesus as our personal savior, we “belong in hell.” These were only a few of the remarks he made during class, and my challenge to his proselytizing led to a media firestorm, and eventually to the documentary that covered the mess.

Most people outside of my hometown of Kearny, New Jersey felt that the teacher, Mr. P, had crossed the line. The New York Times, The Rutherford Institute, Neil deGrasse Tyson, even Bill O’Reilly all agreed that this teacher had gone too far.

But a young gentleman just reached out to me on Facebook after watching thefacebook hilarious message no name documentary on the case and expressed his views, saying “you don’t want god ‘imposed’ on to you but you expect that you can impose science on to others? I don’t think so…”

Yes, how dare we teach kids science…

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