SC’s longest-serving Black legislator honored by lawmakers before retirement

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton embraces South Carolina State Sen....
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton embraces South Carolina State Sen. John Matthews, D-Orangeburg, as she is introduced before speaking during a campaign stop, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, in Santee, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)(David Goldman | AP)
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 12:25 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - After serving nearly 50 years in the South Carolina General Assembly, South Carolina Senator John Matthews was honored Tuesday by state lawmakers ahead of his retirement.

Matthews, who currently serves Senate District 39 (Berkeley, Calhoun Colleton, Dorchester, and Orangeburg counties) is the state’s longest-serving Black lawmaker in South Carolina history. He began as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1984 and went on to serve as a Senator since 1985.

“Senator Matthews has served the people of South Carolina well as a dedicated public servant and a tireless advocate for change,” said Minority Leader Nikki Setzler. “As our Assistant Minority Leader, his wisdom has been an invaluable resource to every member of the Senate. Through the most difficult of challenges and the best of wins, his steady determination has guided us. Senator Matthews is one of the greatest legislators our state has ever seen. It has been an honor to work alongside my dear friend. The institution of the South Carolina Senate is better because John Matthews served.”

Matthews is also the first Black lawmaker to serve as the Assistant Minority Leader in the state Senate. He currently holds that title.

In March, Matthews announced he would not seek re-election in 2020.

“This moment is bittersweet,” Matthews said during his remarks on Tuesday. “I’m saddened to be leaving you all and the tremendous work we continue to do, but I’m also so thankful for the opportunity to reflect on what we’ve accomplished. After 10 years in the House, and 36 here with you all in the Senate, the time has come for me to make way for a new generation of leadership here in South Carolina. I was given a chance to serve, which changed my life and gave my career purpose. I want every young, hopeful South Carolinian who is committed to making a difference to be given that same opportunity.”

Matthews was presented with a Senate resolution, the Order of the Palmetto (which is the highest civilian honor giving by the governor), and an official Congressional record from Congressman Jim Clyburn.

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