By Barney Blakeney
The S.C. NAACP State Conference of Branches April 27 joined forces with the S.C. National Action Network and others to protest S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster’s relaxing of Covidvirus guidelines allowing limited reopening of the state’s nonessential businesses. SCNAN President James Johnson said a convoy of some 10 cars left Charleston Monday morning to join about 20 others for the vehicular noon protest at the S.C. State Capitol.
Johnson said the protest was held to put greater focus on health and safety issues disproportionately impacting communities of color in light of McMaster’s decision to reopen the state despite concerns from community leaders, associations, and faith-based organizations. He noted while African Americans in South Carolina represent only about 27 percent of the state’s population, African Americans represent about 46 percent of Covidvirus related deaths.
In an April 17 press statement Murphy said, “This pandemic has exposed the underlying inequality that exists everywhere, particularly in the U.S. healthcare system, resulting in harm to African Americans at a drastically disproportionate rate. The nation has seen only a small glimpse into the reality that has resonated within the Black community for decades. Our communities remain marginalized, underfunded, and largely forgotten on every imaginable scale.
“While South Carolina’s administration and federal agencies work to address the pandemic in the U.S. overall, the SCNAACP continues to focus on the needs of African Americans and other people of color during this crisis. As a civil rights organization and as stewards of human rights, this outbreak calls on us to maintain vigilance and lift our voices to demand the policies and practices that will preserve the wellbeing of all.
“Disproportionately, we’re already seeing injustices that must be addressed before they worsen and cause further damage within the African American communities. We must recognize and stand up against racial/ethnic discrimination and stereotyping. It is my position that our state and local governments must ensure necessary policies, practices, testing of all citizens, ensuring proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health professionals and that needed information, training, resources, and care are available equitably and reach all people in all communities.”
Johnson said reopening the state’s businesses to soon will exacerbate the already disproportionate impact the virus is having in Black communities. Speakers from around the state joining him included: Dr. Cindy Collins, president S.C. Cosmetology Association; Anthony Gibson, president S.C. Barbers Association; Rock Hill Councilman William Bump Roddey; Richland County Dist. 76 Rep. Leon Howard; and Chester/Fairfield/Richland counties Dist. 41 Rep. Annie McDaniel.