Tim Scott made history in Washington Tuesday when he was sworn in as the first African-American U.S. Senator elected in the South since Reconstruction.
Scott began his political career in 1995 on the Charleston County Council. In 2008 the Republican Scott won the Charleston area's state representative's seat in the South Carolina Statehouse. Two years later he ran for and won South Carolina's 1st Congressional District race, going to Washington as one of two African Americans to win House seats in 2010.
Governor Nikki Haley chose Scott to fill Jim DeMint's U.S. Senate seat in 2013. DeMint resigned to become the president of The Heritage Foundation.
Scott is one of two African-Americans serving in the Senate, and the first African-American to have been elected to both the U.S. House and Senate.
“I think that it says a lot about South Carolina, not that they chose me, but they have aligned their values and their issues and made those priority in making their decisions in electing people and not the complexion,” said Scott.
Scott grew up in North Charleston, and he says the state has come a long way since his grandfather's generation.
“My grandfather grew up in the deep South, in a segregated world, where he was picking cotton as a kid. That in one lifetime you can go from cotton to Congress; that is remarkable, said Scott.”
USC Political Science Professor Todd Shaw says that Tim Scott was a great test to see if race still matters in elections.
“That's the interesting period we are in, that we will see candidates of different racial backgrounds on both sides of the party lines, where party will matter most in some regards and it won't be simply the question of, not that it always has been, but simply the question of race,” said Shaw.
Scott says our values and concerns are central to his job as Senator. What we have to offer comes from the inside.
He says he wants to help others beat the odds and have opportunity to succeed. Scott's focus is developing an Opportunity Agenda that helps future generations succeed through education.
“What can we do to make sure kids growing up in single family house holds, like I did. In poverty, like I did. How can we make sure the American dream is accessible to those kids,” said Scott.
He says we need innovation in the space of education so the state can compete in a global way.
“To have the chance to represent the greatest state in the nation in the United States Senate, it is an amazing honor; afforded to me by you,” said Scott.
Scott says he doesn't want to be remembered by the color of his skin, but by serving as many people as possible and having the largest impact on serving the people of South Carolina.