Making a difference for 50 years

More than 200 guests came together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Democratic Women of Greenville County. South Carolina leaders joined the celebration with national political leaders including Jesse Jackson, Joe Biden, and Nancy Pelosi, sending video messages of congratulations.

Party luminaries help Democratic Women of Greenville County celebrate

Charter members, left to right, seated: Emilie Theodore, Sondra Umsted, Floride Carter; standing, left to right, Lib Hunter and Margaret Paylor. Charter member, Davita Abrams, had already departed.

1967 was a politically charged and dangerous time. 475,000 American troops were in Vietnam, 7,000 National Guard members were called to Detroit to quell rioting, and Muhammad Ali was stripped of his world boxing championship title for refusing to be inducted into the Army.

Amid the turmoil at home and abroad, a group of 67 committed women came together to form the Democratic Women of Greenville County, which celebrated its 50th anniversary at an elegant dinner at the Poinsett Club on October 5.

More than 200 guests, including six of the founding members – Davita Abrams, Floride Carter, Lib Hunter, Margaret Paylor, Emilie Theodore, and Sondra Umsted – attended the celebration.

Several state and national Democratic leaders contributed to a video commemorating this milestone. South Carolina congressman and civil rights activist James Clyburn; the Reverend Jesse Jackson (a Greenville native); former Speaker of the House and current Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright; Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, former Vice President Al Gore; and former Vice President Joe Biden all contributed congratulatory messages.

Ann (“Tunky”) Riley, the late wife of former South Carolina governor and President Clinton’s U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley was one of the founding members of the organization. Riley honored the group as he recalled the profound and indelible influence it has had on the quality of life in the community and across South Carolina. He noted that the group paved the way for electing many women to state and local public office.

After an invocation by Rev. Deb Richardson-Moore, pastor of Triune Mercy Center, Inez Tenenbaum, former state superintendent of education and President Obama’s chairman of the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission, delivered the keynote address. Tenebaum focused on the many achievements of South Carolina Democrats and challenged the audience to overcome present-day obstacles and forge ahead with renewed inspiration and passion.

Linda Hardman, president of Democratic Women of Greenville County, gave a brief history of the founding of the organization, highlighting the contributions of several members, including Joanne Montague, the organization’s leader and driving force until her death three years ago.

In closing, Hardman urged those present to “continue the legacy of our visionary founders and to go forward, upholding the progressive ideals of the Democratic Party and making a positive difference in the lives of our fellow citizens.”

Keynoter Inez Tannenbaum, left, former SC governor and US Secretary of Education Richard Riley, and Betty Farr

The 50th anniversary of the Democratic Women of Greenville County was celebrated with an elegant dinner at the Poinsett Club.

Chairman of the Greenville County Democratic Party, Kate Franch, left, and Paula Catterall, who led the planning of the event for Democratic Women of Greenville County.

President of the Democratic Women of Greenville County Linda Hardman and her husband, Bill.

Keynoter Inez Tannenbaum urges the Democratic Women to continue to move forward with “inspiration and passion.”

Former SC governor and US Secretary of Education, Richard Riley.