Black History Month takes place every February as a way to celebrate and remember the achievements and central roles that African Americans have had throughout American history. Usually, a respected and well-known figure is brought to the forefront of our minds, and their work is praised, as it should be. This week, The Manning Times has decided to focus on the success and path of a younger individual, someone who is expanding out of Clarendon, and hoping to leave a legacy in her wake.
Taylor Bradley became a student at East Clarendon High School as a freshman, just after leaving Sumter School District, and she got to work instantly. By the end of her four-year run, she was a decorated student on the path to success. Bradley would continue her education at the University of South Carolina, finishing with a degree in Political Science. Shortly after, she began work on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
"I spent my first few months here as a staff assistant for a Congressman from Alabama," said Bradley.
Bradley went on to explain the different paths one can take when entering into the workforce at Capitol Hill, as well as the one she chose, communications. Bradley's current position is Press Assistant for a senator out of Oklahoma. Her job is to act as a liaison between the senator and the press.
"I write a lot of press releases," said Bradley. "I work with local and national media to get the member's message across to whatever audience needs to be reached."
Bradley didn't know that this is what she would be doing at 22 when she was in high school, but she is proud of where she is.
"Up until high school, I was convinced that I wanted to be an actress," said Bradley. "I ended up deciding on working in politics, but it just seemed so unrealistic. That has changed now, obviously, and I am so happy where I am. If I could talk to myself in high school, all I would say is 'thank God you found Jesus and let Him guide this journey.'"
Clarendon County is known for its part in Civil Rights. While that era seems like its the distant past to some, it happened fairly recently. In fact, the very first African American to attend East Clarendon did so in 1965, only 54 years ago. Clarendon and ECHS have come a long way from this, and Bradley knows it. However, she also recognizes that it is still affecting rural communities across the nation.
"To us, when we learn about this issue, it seems so long ago," said Bradley. "But 1965, that was yesterday. My grandparents lived through that; my mom was born the year racial segregation was deemed unconstitutional."
Bradley is grateful to the community of Turbeville, and the almost negligible amount of racism that she found within it. She noted that while she was there, she rarely received discrimination, and it seldom crossed her mind.
"One of my biggest concerns was that I was coming to a very rural community," said Bradley. "A lot of people brought up that EC still had a black and white prom separately up until the 90s. However, when you compare race reconciliation in our town to the rest of the world, you see that we are at a very good pace."
While Bradley was grateful that she didn't experience discrimination, she also realizes that her experience isn't the same as everyone else. And while she didn't have negative outward influence, she still doubted herself at times.
"There have been times where I worried that I couldn't do anything I put my mind to," said Bradley. "Growing up, we always said, 'you have to work twice as hard to get half of what you want.' That held great weight with me."
This is why she wants to leave her legacy so that her nieces and nephews can see her example and know that they can achieve anything, regardless of what challenges they may face.
"I want to set the example to my nieces and nephews that they can do anything," said Bradley. "I want them to know that if they work hard, they can get where they want to be."
Bradley extends this example to her peers, as well as future generations of Wolverines. Her message to the rest of her community? Don't let anything stop you from making your dreams your reality.