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Protesters Challenge Elliot Summey’s Disrespect Of Black Female Councilwoman
10/19/2016 3:57:10 PM

Elliott Summey
By Barney Blakeney

Comments made by Charleston County Council Chairman Elliot Summey demeaning some of his colleagues may hurt his targets personally, but many of those responding to those comments think Summey’s remarks raise much larger issues.

A recent daily newspaper report revealed Summey previously made disparaging remarks about several other county council members during a clandestinely taped conversation about completion of I-526. In one remark, Summey called Anna Johnson, the council’s only black female representative ignorant, and likened her to a five-year-old child. Summey since has apologized for making the remarks. But some critics say the disrespect requires far more.

Committee On Better Racial Assurance Executive Director William ‘Bill’ Saunders said Summey’s remarks about Johnson demonstrate a lack of respect for women, and black women especially. Summey, the son of North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, has stepped into his father’s footprints by assuming a role as a county councilman and now as council’s chairman. The pair has consolidated political power in an extraordinary fashion that’s moving the region’s economic and financial building blocks. Although still a young man, Elliot Summey’s influence has made him a man to be feared, Saunders said.

“People around him are afraid of him. Although there are nine people on county council, it’s like he has all the power.” And while this most recent media event is highlighted by his remarks regarding Johnson, Summey’s disrespect toward her is demonstrative of the disrespect he has for citizens generally, Saunders said.

Community activist Shakem Akhet of North Charleston said that disrespect must be challenged. He and others, including members of the South Carolina Chapter of the National Action Network, led a protest targeting Summey at council’s Oct. 18 meeting.

“Come out tomorrow!! We are going to put pressure on Elliott Summey to step down. It's no way in hell he should be able to call a sister who has been fighting for our people on Johns Island a five-year-old.

"Where are you black man?? So Summey just gets a free pass to disrespect our women??? I’m there by any means necessary!!!” Akhet said in an Oct. 17 Facebook post.

In an earlier interview, Akhet said Johnson has proven herself a tolerant and talented champion for the citizens of County Council Dist. 8 which includes James Island and Johns Island. Not only was Summey’s comments disrespectful to her and the black community, the comments were disrespectful all citizens, he said.

South Carolina National Action Network President and Field Coordinator Elder James Johnson echoed Akhet saying they want Summey’s resignation. Summey’s disrespect for the black community goes back to his initial election to county council when he was elected as a Democrat in 2008, Johnson said noting that Summey switched political affiliations when he sought his second term in 2012.

“Summey’s not our friend. He got our vote to get in then, switched parties,” said Johnson. But that observation may come too late. Summey’s seeking a third term on the council as an unopposed incumbent in the November general election. He was elected chairman in 2015.

Anna Johnson said she was hurt by Summey’s remarks, but she’s moving forward.

“There was an attempt by Chairman Summey to apologize for the comments he made about me. I refused to hear it. His apology just did not feel genuine to me. When a person causes you to lose trust in him or her, it is hard to regain that trust. And he can't just say ugly things about me and expect me to forget what he said. I think this whole thing is disgusting. I believe the Mark Clark is needed and for a long time, the people on James Island and Johns Island have been expecting it to be completed. Let's get the Mark Clark built and stop playing games. The citizens deserve better,” she said in a prepared statement last week. 

North Charleston Branch NAACP President Ed Bryant added that while Summey’s characterization of Anna Johnson was insulting and demeaning, he also feels an apology is insufficient. Summey’s apology should be coupled with economic reciprocity, he said.

“No apology can be given for the things Elliot Summey said about Anna Johnson, someone whom he works with everyday. But if he truly wants to atone for that, as chairman of county council he can put policies that provide economic reciprocity to the black community on the table. That would be a tangible response to such insulting and degrading comments,” Bryant said.

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: John WilsonSubmitted: 10/25/2016
I don't agree with a lot of what Ms. Johnson has said and done but Summey is just a moron[and please - I apologize in advance for that word - but if it quacks like a duck---] - plain and simple. The only reason he is where he is politically is because of his father and that sure doesn't say much either - apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

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