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Letters to the Editor | Opinion | The Press and Standard

by | February 28, 2016 5:00 pm

Last Updated: February 24, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Cast your vote, raise your voice
Dear Editor:
“Say it loud. I’m black and I’m proud. Say it loud. I’m black and I’m proud.”
James Brown, Godfather of Soul, 1968
“We’ve been ‘buked and we’ve been scorned,” James Brown sang. “We’ve been talked about bad just as sure as you’re born. Just as it takes two eyes to make a pair, we won’t quit until we get our share.”
When the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, shouted “Say it loud. I’m Black and I’m proud,” he was expressing the sentiments of his generation, just as our musicians, ministers, educators, journalists, and working men and women have always done. They helped shape and change our world for the better.
American women received the right to vote in 1920; Black men and women did not receive it until the 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed. This is why voting is and always be crucial for Black Americans.
“Once upon a time, there lived a great people — a Black people — who injected new meaning into the veins of civilization.” Martin Luther King said when he addressed the Montgomery, Ala., improvement association.
“Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist, who helped free Black Americans from slavery, put it this way: “Our destiny is largely in our own hands. If we find, we shall have to seek. If we succeed in the race for life, it must be by our own exertions. Others may clear the road, but we must go forward or be left behind in the race for life. If we remain poor and are dependent, the wealth of others will not avail us. If we are ignorant, the intelligence of others will do but little for us. If we are foolish, the wisdom of others will not guide us. If we are wasteful of our time and money, the economy of others will only make our destitution all the more disgraceful.”
“My race needs no special defense,” South Carolina statesman Robert Smalls argued at the state convention in 1895. “For the history of them in this country proves them to be the equal of people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life.”
Leading educator and civil-rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune was one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s foremost advisors in his unofficial black cabinet during his administration. President Roosevelt frequently consulted with her on minority affairs and interracial relations. Bethune founded Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Booker T. Washington founded Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala., and W.E.B. Dubois helped establish the NAACP.
So you see the intersection of politics and education, consider this excerpt from Dudley Randall’s poem, “Booker T. and W.E.B.”:

“It seems to me, said Booker T.,
“It shows a mighty lot of cheek
“To study chemistry and Greek
“When Mr. Charlie needs a hand to hoe the cotton on his land,
“And when Miss Ann looks for a cook,
“Why stick your nose inside a book?”
“I don’t agree,” said W.E.B.
“If I should have the drive to seek
“Knowledge of chemistry or Greek, I’ll do it.
“Charles and Miss can look
“Another place for hand or cook,
“Some men rejoice in skill of hand,
“And some in cultivating land,
“But there are others who maintain the right to cultivate the brain.”

I say the answer is both. We need everyone’s contributions, economically and vocationally, in whatever honest profession you choose to help uplift our world and communities.
We’re all familiar with Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. But King also said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
If you fail to exercise your right to vote, you are being silent about the things that matter.
Vasilisa Hamilton

Maryland resident wants answers
Dear Editor:
In my last letter, I provided an assessment of Andy Strickland’s performance as sheriff. The primary intention of the letter was to highlight the lack of leadership within the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO). The secondary intention was to motivate Mr. Strickland to be the leader that the citizens of Colleton County deserve.
Recently, a source informed me Mr. Strickland dismissed my article based solely on the fact that I live in Maryland. If a person forms any part of their argument around one small piece of information without further investigation, then they are deluding themselves and possibly deceiving others.
I still plan to move to Colleton County in a few years, as stated in my previous letter. Although I am returning, I should not have to worry about drug addicts/gang members attempting to steal my property while my wife and I are at work. Neither should I have to worry about several drive-by shootings (within the same week, mind you) that certain law enforcement leaders in Colleton County initially deem “not gang related.” If Mr. Strickland’s only defense to my letter is that I am an “outsider,” then his critical thinking skills appear to be severely lacking.
As a property owner and taxpayer in Colleton County, I did not expect an executive-level law enforcement officer to provide this type of response to my valid concern. Just because I am not a current resident, but own property in the county, does this mean I’m unqualified to point out an error? Am I to blame for his inaccurate statement? Do I have to currently live in Colleton County for my concerns to be addressed, or do I need to accept being ignored like many other residents these past four years? It is insulting for Mr. Strickland to think his response may appease voters. Fortunately, the citizens of Colleton County are smart, courageous and have common sense. They, like I, can easily see his crime statistic report is not only wrong concerning violent crime, but he failed to address serious concerns by the very same people who pay his salary.
I’ve monitored Mr. Strickland’s performance and assess it to be lacking. His record is public for all to examine. My next questions are simply these: Why is there the appearance of a drastic decline in violent crime when many citizens of Colleton County believe otherwise? And why are Mr. Strickland’s statistics on violent crime in Colleton County in disagreement with the FBI’s violent crime statistics in Colleton County for the same year? Did the FBI get it wrong? I think not!
This year, we have another opportunity to elect or re-elect a sheriff. Since we are faced with another candidate who, like Mr. Strickland, seems promising on the campaign trail, it is to our benefit to carefully examine the truth and ask the tough questions.
Chris Lovelace broadly defined what he would do if he were elected. All of his ideas seem really good on the surface, but let’s dig a little deeper. First, he wants an official audit of the department. Impressive. Next, he wants to get deputies out of the office and on the roads, disrupt gangs/drugs and fight corruption. Spot on. All of these seem to be great initiatives; however, Mr. Lovelace needs to better define how the citizens will pay for this endeavor.
As one who pays property taxes, I am also concerned about how the county decides to spend my money. Will these endeavors increase our taxes in general? Or are there other ways of training and delegating more responsibility to the deputies? Due to the type of crime in Colleton County and the evolving criminal element, our deputies deserve the opportunity to train with some of the best and most effective crime fighting law enforcement teams in the state. How can this be implemented and how much will it cost? I do not mind paying a little extra in taxes if I know the money is used responsibly and yields a good return (i.e. improving the quality of life for every Colleton County citizen.)
Mr. Lovelace, these are the questions I would like you to address:
Your audit is complete and you discover a corrupt deputy/police officer. How will you handle the matter? If he/she is involved in criminal activity, what sentence would your office recommend to the solicitor? If it’s one of your deputies, how will you replace that officer? If you put more deputies on the road, how will that impact your current budget? How will this impact current investigations? I still have family members waiting for the CCSO investigators to contact them with resolution on stolen property from two years ago. The investigators still ignore their phone calls. Another question is how will cases get resolved with more deputies on the road?
Recently, the mayor of Cottageville found nothing wrong with hiring his son with the Cottageville Police Department. The Cottageville municipal government has a poor history of finding good talent to protect its citizens.
So, the question remains, “Was this young officer hired due to his talent, or due to his daddy’s position?”
Can Cottageville or Colleton County afford another Officer Price incident due to poor hiring practices and questionable leadership? Since one of your priorities is to fight public corruption, what actions will you take to disrupt this type of behavior in the community?
One question stands out in my mind regarding the Cottageville elected officials’ inability to maintain simple records: Who has the primary motivation to ensure that the Cottageville town records before 2004 remain missing?
In conclusion, we have a sheriff who failed at multiple levels and a candidate promising to do what the incumbent botched. Mr. Strickland still owes the citizens answers, which I predict he will not provide. And, in my opinion, Mr. Lovelace needs to further define his position.
In today’s society, people are crying out for honesty, integrity, and courage. They want public officials to hear what they say by offering sincere responses and solutions. Regardless of the outcome of the 2016 election for sheriff, all of the people in Colleton County deserve to be heard by their public servants, not just the ones in the “good ‘ol boy click.”

Michael J. Garvin
Odenton, MD

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