Skip to comments.Alvin Greene’s Big Debut: Manning NAACP Hosts Candidate's First Public Speech
Posted on 07/21/2010 5:28:39 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
About an hour after a bustling bubble of cops, retired military personnel and handlers hustles Alvin Greene out the door of the Manning Junior High gymnasium following his first-ever public speech like a perp walk is how one TV reporter puts it the candidate is holed up in his living room with the barebones staff that makes up his current campaign.
Greene, it appears, now has something of a spokesman: Felipe Farley, a 46-year-old Upstate attorney who says his title, technically, is campaign adviser.
Back in the gymnasium, Farley was wearing an emerald T-shirt with the words Greene Senate and standing near the back of the room. He fielded questions from one reporter after another as a Baptist choir whooped it up near the stage and Greene delivered his much-anticipated inaugural stump speech, coming after stunning political observers worldwide on June 8 with his nomination for the U.S. Senate by the South Carolina Democratic Party.
Farleys been with the campaign for about a week, and hes been doing a lot of commuting from the Upstate to Manning. As a relatively well-known attorney in the patent industry and a graduate of Harvard Law School, Farley might be in a good position to offer Greene some advice if he ever does want to create those action figures.
Farley says Greene wrote his speech himself, which he read off of a spiral notebook pad.
I think hes got a good strong message and well be hearing more and more of it, Farley says after his candidate receives a standing ovation from an audience of more than 400 mostly black residents from nearby towns who came to hear him as the guest speaker at the Manning NAACP meeting.
But not much later, at the door to the small ranch-style house Greene shares with his ailing father about five miles away from where he spoke, Farley says the candidate wont be speaking to reporters.
Farley smiles and his demeanor is extremely gracious.
He appreciates your interest, but he wasnt going to be doing interviews today, Farley says, positioning himself between the partly opened door and the inside of the house. He obviously wants to keep especially the local press very informed because hes proud to be the candidate from Manning. Its just that today he wasnt going to take interviews.
A woman who had been filming Greenes speech earlier pokes her head out from around the garage. A man later identified as Columbia defense attorney Eleazer Carter, who had been sitting and speaking with someone inside the house, comes out briefly to move a shiny beige Mercedes sports car out of the driveway before heading back inside.
He does want to pay close attention to local reporters, Farley says and smiles. Just not today.
The Center of the Universe
A little over a mile from where Greene is holding his speech, a woman working the counter at a gas station says motorists have been asking her for directions to Manning Junior High all afternoon.
At the well-manned police barricade leading to the school, an officer smiles at the mention of the world-famous speaking engagement.
Its the biggest thing in the world for the small town in Clarendon County, says Manning branch NAACP press liaison Dwayne Ismail as he shakes hands with reporters.
Indeed, it might have been the first time so many had been treated to a meeting of the Manning branch of the NAACP certainly when it comes to press. The third-Sunday-a-month meeting had been moved twice because of the attention.
About a dozen TV cameras rings the outer edge of the gym like a shark net as lens-toting reporters for the Associated Press, Reuters and news organizations from as far away as London weave in and out of the crowd, gathering quotes, capturing images and cultivating comments to placate the insatiable media beast that is The Story of Alvin Greene.
There is church music. Elderly women fan themselves. There are scripture readings that audience members pepper with Mmm-hmm, Yes, preacher and Amen.
South Carolina Rep. Cathy Harvin, a white Clarendon County Democrat and a member of the Legislative Black Caucus, speaks about discrimination and diversity. Special interests use candidates like puppeteers use puppets, she says. Slick politicians captivate the masses. We dont look past pretty words to know who a candidate really is. We dont look past TV commercials to understand personal character.
Dont let the small-minded take us backward, Harvin says.
William Bethune, a man who once picked cotton for Alvin Greenes father, stresses from the stage that the NAACP is nonpartisan.
We dont endorse political candidates, he says, but we make sure rights are protected. Bethune says, Greene didnt just win it he whupped his opponent.
Bethune doesnt believe things just happen. It is, he says, the will of God.
No Stage Fright
When Alvin Greene approaches the podium, he doesnt look like he has other times on TV. The vacant stare sharpens, the stone face seems to crumble away. He looks ready for this. And when he says Good afternoon to everyone, looks down at his notes and gives a sputtering kick-start to his seven-minute speech, he does perhaps the best job hes done so far in a public setting.
Not that its classical rhetoric, exactly. But Greene hits his points. He even gets a couple yuks.
I am the best candidate in the United States Senate race here in South Carolina, he says. I am also the best choice for the image award next year.
He offers mostly vague one-liners.
My campaign is about getting South Carolina back to work; The punishment should fit the crime; Fairness saves us money; Lets reclaim our country from the terrorists and the communists; Lets get South Carolina back to work and lets move America forward.
South Carolina deserves a lot more than six more years of my opponent, he says. We cannot let my opponent keep this country hostage.
He talks about alternative energy like solar, wind and methane. Greene says parents must take a more active part in their childs education, which brings perhaps the loudest applause of the night.
He says we need justice in our judicial system. First time non-violent offenders, he says, should be granted such programs as pre-trial intervention.
And then it gets awkward. He lifts his eyes up from his notes and into the crowd.
I know this guy that got in trouble, he says. This guy happened to be a person of color. This was in the 5th Judicial Circuit. Anyhow, this guy met the criteria for pre-trial intervention, but was denied. That same guys trial was scheduled for last week but was put off. Anyway, moving on. Lets get South Carolina and America back to work.
He doesnt speak anymore about his own problems. He tells everyone to check out his website.
Alvin Greene waves to the crowd in what looks like it could be the happiest moment of his life. He lingers for an awkward few seconds and shakes some hands on the stage. And then hes gone.
What Was That?
Why Alvin Greene chose the Manning Branch of the NAACP for his first speech he hasnt said, but hes familiar with some of the leadership, according to branch president Bobby Fleming.
Greenes mother went to Allen University with Flemings mom. Greenes father and Flemings father were active in the American Legion post in town together.
Asked how he scored such a sought-after guest speaker, Fleming says he just made a call.
He is no stranger to me, Fleming says. For whatever reason, why hes turned everyone else down and why he consented to accept our invitation, I dont know why, but Im most appreciative.
On her way out of the gymnasium, Berthina White, a 68-year-old Democrat from Sumter, said she thought Greene looked a little nervous.
But it was the first time he was in a crowd like that, she says.
White didnt vote for Greene. Shed never heard of him and she doesnt vote for people shes never heard of.
But hes a good fellah, she says. He will make it. Hes got the message of what he wants to do; hes got to put a little more power to it.
Greene might have that power in him somewhere. He has, in fact, already made history once. And it seems he now has people around him people who went to Harvard, people who drive shiny new sports cars to help him out.
But Greene still wasnt talking to reporters the next day.
Im busy, he said, Im busy. And then he hung up.
If you had submitted the real nightmare of the Kenyan president as a script to Hollywood just a few years ago, you would have been laughed out of town too!
Calling him a deer in the headlights is an insult to deer.
Until the vote is taken away from non taxpayers, this country will continue to deteriorate.
THIS IS, however, very similar to the way our forefathers used to 'campaign' for office.
He sounds awfully bright to be a Democrat....
Al Green is running?