October 12, the Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III, national vice president of Religious Affairs and External Relations of the National Action Network (NAN) met for more than one hour with elected and appointed leaders of the Town of Hilton Head Island, SC to discuss complaints about disparate and discriminatory treatment of African American citizens by town officials.
Representing the town were Mayor David Bennett, Council Member Marc A. Grant, the only African American on the seven-member council, and Assistant Town Manager Joshua Gruber. Also representing NAN were Hilton Head Island Chapter President Taiwan Scott and Trudy Grant, manager of Religious Affairs and External Relations who serves with Rev. Rivers.
Mr. Scott invited Rev. Rivers to investigate complaints, including his, about discriminatory treatment of him and other African American owned businesses by the Town of Hilton Head Island. Mr. Scott’s complaint included disparate code enforcement, discriminatory treatment of black owned and native island owned businesses by a variety of town officials including the town attorney.
After hearing the serious concerns from Mr. Scott and visiting the business locations that appeared to represent disparate treatment, Rev. Rivers agreed to return to Hilton Head in the near future to participate in community meetings at one or more of the local churches to hear directly from the African American community.
“There appears to be significant issues of discrimination still present. The time has come for the town’s economic and political leadership, and particularly the town council, to get serious about eliminating official discrimination and disparate treatment in this booming tourist and vacation location,” said Rivers. “I am grateful to Mayor Bennett and Council Member Grant, as part of the elected leadership of the town, for taking time to meet with us today. We were encouraged by comments from the mayor and Mr. Grant,” Rivers also said.