Original Document
Original Document
Democrat Back After Walkout," Philadelphia Bulletin, June 25, 1936

Senator Smith of South Carolina Says He'll Leave Again If Negro Takes Part


Senator Ellison D. Smith, of South Carolina, describing himself as a "Reconstruction Democrat," returned today to the Democratic National Convention which he left yesterday in protest against Negro participation.

Smith walked out when the Rev. Marshall Shepard, colored pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Tabernacle, 42d and Wallace Sts., offered the invocation.

Smith expressed satisfaction over reaction from the South to his "walk out." "Whenever a Negro takes a part of this convention I'll walk out again," he said. Smith exhibited about 20 telegrams from the South congratulating him.

One from Ludowici, Ga., said "Congratulations. Keep walking as long as Negro prays or stays."

From W. H. Perrin, chairman of the Democratic executive committee of Union, S.C. came the following: "Congratulations on your walk. I admire your spirit."

"We rejoice in your stand for white government and self government in South Carolina," telegraphed J. Ross Hanahan, Charleston business man.

Officials said it was the first time a Negro ever had offered prayer at a Democratic Convention. Even as Smith and one or two others from the South Carolina delegation strode toward the door, the minister finished his prayer and the band swung into the strains of "Dixie."

Explaining his attitude, Smith said: "There isn't a man in America that has more regard for the Negro in his place than I have." But, he said, the situation in the South "before and since the Civil War makes it impossible for the South to recognize and accept the Negro as an equal political factor."

He denounced what he called political "catering" to the Negro vote, declaring the party didn't need it.

The walk-out of Senator Smith was interpreted by the minister today as "simply an indication that Brother Smith needs more prayer."

"If that is the way he feels, I don't see what he can do," he said. "If he goes to the Republican Party he will find Negroes in their convention and if he goes to the Socialists or any left-wing parties he will find them even more important in the activities.

"If he is looking for a party without Negroes it looks like he will have to form his own little party right there in South Carolina."

Questioned on his personal reaction, Shepard said he was "not bitter" but thought the incident "unfortunate."

"Rather than being bitter about it," he continued, "I feel sympathy and pity, for him and pray to God that he may be emancipated from his prejudices."

Philadelphia Bulletin, (AP, Columbia, S. C.), June 25, 1936.

South Carolina's State historian cited records today as showing that U.S. Senator Smith once sat in the South Carolina Legislature with a Negro member.

A.S. Salley, secretary of the state Historical Commission, said Smith served as Representative in 1898-1900 along with R. B. Anderson, Negro Democrat from Georgetown County.

Anderson, he said, "was elected by the white people on a fusion platform, to prevent the Negroes from getting all the offices, and had served as a delegate to the convention of 1895.

"A great many of the most respectable white people of the early ‘80s and ‘90s sat in the Legislature with a dozen Democratic Negroes. Ben Tillman served in the constitutional convention with Negroes, both Democratic and Republican.

"It was this constitutional convention that excluded the Negro from voting. As Joseph W. Barnwell, of Charleston, the eminent lawyer who served in the radical Legislature, put it, 'We don't want the Negro an arbiter in white men's squabbles.""

Under present party rules, Negroes may vote in the Democratic primary only if they voted for General Wade Hampton 1876.


Mrs. Roosevelt Also Mentioned In Prayer by Rev. M. L. Shepard

The Rev. Marshall L. Shepard, pastor of the Mt. Olivet Tabernacle Baptist Church (colored), 42d and Wallace Sts., and a member of the State Legislature, delivered the invocation at today's opening for the Democratic Convention.

"Most Holy and All Wise God," he prayed, "Our Heavenly Father we worship and adore Thy name for the manifold blessings Thou dost bestow upon the children of men. We pray thy blessed benediction upon this convention, the officers, delegates and visitors.

"Grant them the realizing sense of Thy Presence that they may be guided by Thy wisdom and supported by Thy never-failing strength. Bless the President of these United States and all the officers of our Government.

"We thank Thee for the significant contribution that both the President and Mrs. Roosevelt have made to the general welfare and happiness of the Masses of citizens throughout this nation.

"May our country be an agent of good-will among the nations of the world to the end that under the leadership of Thy spirit righteousness, peace and true holiness shall cover the earth as the waters cover the bosom of the mighty deep.

"Now as we shall proceed with the work of this convention may the words of our mouths and the mediations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord, our strength and our Redeemer."

South Carolina Delegate Walks out of Convention

"I'm Sick and Tired of the Whole Thing," Says Senator Smith

Aroused by the presence of Negro delegates and other things, Senator Ellison D. Smith, a delegate-at-large from South Carolina, said today he was "through" with the Democratic National Convention.

Smith and other members of the South Carolina delegation left the convention floor when today's session was opened with a prayer by a Negro minister.

"The situation in the South before and since the Civil War makes it impossible for the South to recognize and accept the Negro as an equal political factor," Smith said.

"There is not a man in America that has more regard for the Negro in his place than I have.

"But realizing as I do these unspeakable dangers inherent in this thing I cannot and will not be a party to the recognition of the 14th and 15th amendments.

"Nor will I support any political organization that looks upon the Negro and caters to him as a political and social equal.

"I'm through. I'm sick and tired of the whole thing. I'll go home and do some talking."

Credit: Philadelphia Bulletin
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