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State legislative manual removes tags of 'Negro,' 'scalawag'

The official manual of the South Carolina Legislature no longer references "Negro" or "scalawag" in historical listings of Reconstruction leaders.

The words quietly disappeared from the 2010 manual, a year after drawing scrutiny.

House Clerk Charles Reid said the listings of lieutenant governors and House speakers, which included the references, were first produced in the early 1900s and simply transferred to the book as is. African-Americans who held the offices from 1870 to 1876 were noted as "Negro" in parentheses beside their names. The word "scalawag" denoted the House speaker who served from 1868-72. The term referred to white Southerners who supported the federal government's actions in the region.

Despite the documents' historical nature, Reid said, he decided to remove the terms from the 700-page manual distributed this week because they're now irrelevant.

"It's past time. I applaud Charles Reid for doing it," said Rep. Todd Rutherford, a black Columbia Democrat, adding he hadn't realized the words were ever in the manual. "It went unnoticed for many years. It's beyond shocking that it had to be removed in 2010."

Rep. Joe Neal, who is black, said he first came across the words four years ago but didn't make it an issue.

"In the larger scheme of things, I chose not to focus on it," said Neal, D-Hopkins, who called their ousting appropriate. "It's reflective of an era and mindset that doesn't fit well in the 21st century."