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Carlanna Hendrick talks about how she first became involved with politics in South Carolina.
RW: How did you get involved in politics?
CH: It seemed just the obvious thing. I teach American History, I love the academic awareness of politics as a sense of direction in our country. I had always been interested in politics, speaking out in high school for candidates, being certain I registered to vote. Do you really want to hear this story? This is my favorite story, one that I tell my classes. I had always voted in Columbia, but as a student at the university I had just been involved peripherally. When we moved into one of the suburbs as we stayed in Columbia, it occurred to me that I had never been to a precinct meeting. So I decided I would go and I looked in the paper and the precinct that I was in was a strong Republican one--the precinct meeting was held in a private home. So I went over-and I promise, I think they thought I was the Avon lady because I came to the door and they were all in the back room having coffee and it was 2 or 3 couples--people who had done it for years. I was the only other person who had not just done it forever who came. They were just as cordial as they could be and we did whatever one does at precinct meetings for 10 or 15 minutes, then we needed delegates to the county convention. All of us could go and we needed a couple of other people, their wife or their husband was going, so I got immediately elected a delegate to the county convention. When I went to the county convention I was sitting there next to one of the older gentlemen--they were getting ready to choose delegates to the state convention. This is when it was done by precinct rather than county wide. He nudged me and said, "Honey, you ever been to the state convention?" I said "No." I was impressed. I mean people I had done my dissertation on had it on their tombstone that they had gone to state convention. He said, "You wanna go?" I said, "yeah.” He said, "fine". So I went. Got to the state convention and here are all these people who think that people who go to the state convention earned the right through laboring in the vineyards. It was wonderful to suddenly be there with the movers and shakers in that very dim way. I was fortunate to be a token at a time when the Democratic Party needed tokens. The next year at county convention the power structure called and asked if I would like to run for vice chairman, they needed a woman. I said I would be delighted. The convention ran late so they called us all out and had our picture taken for the paper before the nominations and election took place. There was clearly not going to be any problem with that election.