Posted by CNN Capitol Hill reporter Lisa Desjardins August 28th, 2013 07:30 PM ET
Washington (CNN) – Organizers of Wednesday’s 50th anniversary March on Washington did not invite the nation’s only African-American senator to speak at the civil rights commemoration, his office said, a sign of the complicated politics of racial equality.
Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina was appointed to the position in January, is currently the only black senator and is one of only eight African-Americans to ever serve in the U.S. Senate.
“Senator Scott was not invited to speak at the event,” his press secretary, Greg Blair, told CNN in a statement about the 50th anniversary gathering in Washington. Blair would not say if Scott would have accepted an invitation to speak, nor if he was disappointed at the lack of an invite.
“Today’s anniversary should simply serve as an opportunity to reflect upon how their actions moved our country forward in a remarkable way,” Blair demurred.
March organizers responded that they invited every member of Congress to attend the event, but anniversary spokesman Sarah Coppersmith told CNN she did not know whether Scott was invited to give remarks.
President Barack Obama was the prime speaker at the Lincoln Memorial event Wednesday, heading up a list that skewed Democratic, including Reps. Donna Edwards, D-Maryland, and Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, former Democratic presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and the leaders of two major unions.
Some others at the podium, including Oprah Winfrey and actor Jamie Foxx, came from outside of politics.
But out of three dozen speakers, none was a Republican.
Coppersmith insisted that event planners invited several GOP leaders to speak, but none could attend. That list included former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
“This event had a bipartisan outreach,” Coppersmith said. “We all really wanted this to be a bipartisan event. It was not meant to be a political event at all. It was about Dr. King.”
Scott did not attend the Washington commemoration, but did write about the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech in an op-ed published Wednesday South Carolina’s The State newspaper.
“I am living my mother’s American Dream,” the senator wrote.
“That dream was strengthened by the efforts of Dr. King, Congressman John Lewis and the countless other civil rights leaders who gave so much to build a better future,” he wrote. “The leaders of the civil rights movement taught us the value of belief, discipline and hard work and that, when put together, those traits can change the world.”