“In life you’ve got to find your calling,” he said. “I knew that being a banker was not my calling. Why? Because when you find your calling, you don’t mind putting the time in whatever it is you do. You’re not looking at the clock.”
The Senator from South Carolina confessed he found his calling while attending Morehouse College.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a graduate of Morehouse,” noted Kimpson. “Benjamin Mays from Greenwood was president of Morehouse College. Maynard Jackson, the first African American mayor of Atlanta, went to Morehouse,” said Kimpson. “He taught me that it’s not good enough to be number two, you got to be number one; you want to be great. I don’t accept mediocrity, not in my law practice, not in my home. I challenge my children to be great.”
During law school, Kimpson applied for a federal clerkship and worked under the Honorable Judge Matthew James Perry Jr. The work transformed his life, personally and professionally.
“Now why is he important?” asked Kimpson. “No. 1, Judge Perry was the first African American federal court judge in South Carolina. He was a civil rights icon. He desegregated schools. He went to jail for standing up for injustice. The federal courthouse in Columbia is named after Judge Perry.
“He couldn’t sit at the same lunch counters that his colleagues. He couldn’t swim in the same pool,” said Kimpson. “He was denied many of the opportunities of his white counterparts. Imagine fighting a fight with your hands in cuffs tied behind your back? But he didn’t complain. He just did his job and became great.”
Kimpson said the clerkship and mentorship under Judge Perry taught him two important values: character and relationships. The future senator said whenever he had the opportunity to be around the legendary judge, he would watch, listen, and learn.
“He was so courteous,” remembers Kimpson. “We would go to lunch and it would literally take us 20 minutes to get outside the courthouse because he was holding the door for everybody. So, my education at Morehouse College and the mentorship of Judge Perry, I learned mediocrity was not an option for Marlon Kimpson.”
Kimpson leaned in and urged the law students to invest in each other. Build relationships with colleagues and faculty.
“You can do good in school, but there’s so much more to practicing law than just getting a good grade,” he said. “You got to take the time to know your colleagues first year. Relationships matter.”
Kimpson, a member of Motley Rice Law Firm, his legal work has been dedicated to serving asbestos workers injured by occupational disease, employees and investors whose retirement funds have diminished due to fraud, families devastated by transportation accidents, and students whose civil and human rights were violated. He was elected to the State Senate in 2013 and serves the residents of Senate District 42 and all South Carolinians.