Sen. Tim Scott says he is living the American dream and cites "the evolution of the Southern heart" as the reason he, as a Black man, was able to win a primary election against a son of Strom Thurmond.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Congress's only Black GOP senator gave the prominent primetime closing speech on the first night of the 2020 Republican National Convention Monday.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott recounted growing up in a single-parent household and failing out of ninth grade before finding a mentor and becoming a small-business owner.
"We live in a world that only wants you to believe in the bad news, racially, economically and culturally-polarizing news," Scott said. "We don't give into cancel culture, or the radical - and factually baseless - belief that things are worse today than in the 1860s or the 1960s." He added that Biden would turn the U.S. into a "socialist utopia."
Scott blasted Democrats for taking minority voters for granted and for not doing more to stop what they depicted as lawlessness in American cities amid the protests that have swept the nation after George Floyd, a Black man, died under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer.
The campaign touts Scott for his work in creating legislation for Opportunity Zones, a federal program that offers tax incentives to promote private investment in economically distressed areas.
"Scott also plays a critical role in issues regarding workforce development, education and diversity," the campaign's website reads.
VIDEOS: Speakers on the 1st night of the 2020 RNC
Scott is one of a diverse group of Trump supporters to be featured at this year's Republican convention.
Kim Klacik, a Black Republican running to fill the late Rep. Elijah Cummings's seat representing Maryland's 7th District, is scheduled to speak Monday. Alice Johnson, a Black nonviolent drug offender Trump pardoned in 2018, is set to appear on Thursday.
One of several African Americans on the schedule, former football star Herschel Walker, defended the president against those who call him a racist.
"It hurts my soul to hear the terrible names that people call Donald," Walker said in prepared remarks. "The worst one is 'racist.' I take it as a personal insult that people would think I would have a 37-year friendship with a racist."
The opening night Monday highlighted the "Land of Promise," aiming to show how Trump helped renew the American dream.
Its speakers include some of the president's staunchest supporters, such as Reps. Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz; Charlie Kirk, the president of the pro-Trump organization Turning Point USA; the president's son Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is also the campaign's national finance chair.
Others include former Ambassador to the U.N. and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.