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Julia Graham, mother of Desialin McFadden, the woman who was the recipient of a racial slur, leaves the courthouse loggia after her daughter makes a tearful plea for peace.  

Photo by Michaele Duke

A news conference was conducted June 24, on the grounds of the Public Services Administration building on Main Street, Kingstree, in regards to a racially charged statement made by business owner Clinton Crick and captured on voicemail. Senator Ronnie Sabb, along with the recipient of the voice message, Desialin McFadden and others addressed the incident and the harm it has caused. Though McFadden was deeply hurt by the use of the “N” word, she appealed to the community to pray and come together as a town not separate in color. The community responded with a rally against hate.

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Several hundred citizens walked in unison to protest a business owner’s racial slur captured on voicemail. The group gathered at the courthouse where they heard from the family, clergy and elected officials asking for unity and dialog.

Photo by Michaele Duke

A diverse crowd came together June 27, and walked from Lexington Avenue to the courthouse where several guests, including Senator Ronnie Sabb, NAACP President Joe Castel, and clergy spoke. Kingstree Mayor Darren Tisdale was one who struggled with his emotions during his speech. “As mayor of this town, or in my county, we will never stand for hate towards an individual. It will never happen, we will not let it happen,” he said. The mayor then turned to McFadden. “Words kill every day, words kill every day and I pray, Ms. McFadden, that you and your family will have healing.”

NAACP President Joe Castle saw the incident as a new beginning. “The mayor and I were talking this morning. This is only an opportunity for us to get started, that we may should have been doing all along, to support these young people, ” he said. “And I promise you she will be the first.”

A tearful McFadden described how the voice mail effected her. “These are words I will remember forever. And although I will forgive him, it will still hurt, and they are very hurtful words,” she said, standing in the courthouse loggia and surrounded by her family. “I did nothing besides being a black woman. This made me realize no matter how much us as a people try to better ourselves it still may not be enough to the next person.”

The business owner provided the following statement:

“The Kingstree Laundry expresses a heartfelt apology for the inexcusable choice of words used by Clinton, during a voicemail exchange regarding a property he has for sale. This has been a harsh reminder of a painful past that our country and community still have not fully reconciled. Clinton’s words are not representative of our values, and we stand in solidarity with the Black community. While it is no excuse, please know that Clinton is heavily medicated. He retired several years ago due to his battle with multiple-organ, stage 4 cancer, and is currently receiving palliative care. As a small business that has served Williamsburg County for more than 70 years, we stand against racism and with our neighbors and fellow small business owners. Again, we offer our deepest apologies.” The owner also said the family reached out to McFadden on the same day.

Williamsburg Hometown Chamber Director Martha Burrows also provided a statement the day of the event, “Our organization is troubled by the racism that still exists in our community.  We will not tolerate any form of racism as it goes against our very purpose in this community.  We reject racism in all forms.  We stand in solidarity with our members to work to fulfill the mission of our organization. 

The Williamsburg HomeTown Chamber’s very purpose is to foster growth and improve the quality of life in our community.  We seek to be the principal advocate for businesses in our community, and in order to promote economic prosperity for all of Williamsburg County, we stand for justice, equality, diversity and inclusion in our organization and community.  It is our desire to bring about positive changes in Williamsburg County.  Our business community benefits from diversity. 

Diversity adds to the social, cultural and economic well-being of all of our citizens. We must all work together as Americans, and as neighbors, friends, business leaders, and decision makers to stop racism and discrimination and to promote reform in business, economic opportunity, education and job creation.  We must work together to unify our community and insist on respect and equality for all of our members and community as a whole.”

A video of the conference can be viewed at The News’ website at www.kingstreenews.com. A photo gallery can also be viewed online.