SC sheriff candidate releases campaign ad disclosing he wore blackface about 10 years ago

A South Carolina sheriff candidate has released a campaign ad in which he discloses he wore blackface about 10 years ago.

Craig Stivender, a Republican candidate for sheriff in Colleton County, S.C., in the video reveals a photo of himself wearing blackface with his arm around an African American woman.


"I'll be the first to tell you I'm not perfect," Stivender says in the video posted this week. "I've made mistakes, and I wish I could change a thing or two."

He says he wanted to tell potential constituents at the beginning of the campaign "things that politicians would try to hide."

Stivender brings up a driving ticket, his divorce and fender benders "that were my fault" before mentioning that he dressed up as a member of the Black Mafia family for a law enforcement Halloween party about a decade ago, with a photo appearing in the ad.

"That was a different time," he says in the video. "Today we understand that type of costume is troubling for many. To those of you who may be upset, I understand your disappointment, but I value honesty, so I'm opening my campaign with transparency." 

Stivender said he dressed up to "disparage" Demetrius "Big Meech" Flenory, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2008. Stivender attended the party with the woman pictured, a friend since sixth grade, who he said did not question the blackface, NPR reported.

"To be honest with you, 10 years ago I had never heard of blackface," he told NPR. "I didn't know it was a legitimate thing."

Stivender said in an emailed statement to The Hill that he stands by his previous statements and campaign ad.

"I never intended for anyone to be offended and I would like to move forward with a positive campaign," he said. "I am a family Christian man and the people who know me will stand behind me."

—Updated at 3:03 p.m.