MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Bennie Swans, a longtime community and civil rights activist as well as a former chair of the Horry County Democratic Party, has died according to a statement from the party.
The HCDP said Saturday that Swans passed away after a battle with a lengthy illness.
“My sincere condolences to Marcella and Bennie’s family,” wrote Swans' successor as chair, Don Kohn. “Bennie was an important voice for the Horry County Democratic Party and a community activist. We all benefited from knowing Bennie. May he rest in peace.”
Swans served as party chair from 2016 until 2018 and was a driving force behind the annual Martin Luther King Freedom Rally events and parade in Myrtle Beach.
“He wanted to give back. And with the MLK Celebration, it was his way of uniting people across the county because he believed in diversity. That was one thing about Bennie. He was a staunch civil rights activist and the MLK celebration was a way to say thank you,” said Cedrick Blain-Spain, a friend of Swans' and a State Executive Committeeman for HCDP.
Blain-Spain added that Swans always wanted to help others and get work done.
“'What are we gonna do about it? Well, let’s get the job done!' And he went ‘let’s get the job done!’ That’s my memories of him. Let’s get the job done," he said.
Blain-Spain said he was much more than just the former chair of the Democratic Party in Horry County.
“He didn’t mind doing what needed to be done when it came to the community," he said.
More recently, Swans was the social action chairman for Mount Olive AME Church in Myrtle Beach.
Swans was also a veteran of the Vietnam War and received a Purple Heart for his service.
But Blain-Spain said over anything, he hopes Swans is remembered by his passion for making the community better.
“We want him to be remembered as a trailblazer, and as an activist," said Blain-Spain.
“Bennie liked people. And he just wanted people to get together and work together and achieve things. That was Bennie,” said Khon.
“We remember him by hitting the ballot box. After we voted there’s more work to be done," said Blain-Spain.