First NAACP chapters in South Carolina are established in Charleston and Columbia.
November 10, 1939
Twenty-nine representatives from branches around South Carolina met in library at Benedict College in Columbia and founded the South Carolina NAACP State Conference of Branches.
John Henry McCray establishes the Lighthouse and Informer which becomes the unofficial organ of the South Carolina NAACP Conference of Branches. Later this year, James Hinton is also elected president of the South Carolina NAACP Conference of Branches.
Columbia NAACP President Rev. E.A. Adams and other members of the state conference form the Negro Citizens Committee of South Carolina (NCC) to rally support
for a voting rights campaign.
Led by Lighthouse and Informer editor John McCray, the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) held its first convention in Columbia.
Following a successful suit by black teachers in Charleston, black teachers filed suit for equal pay in Columbia’s public school system. A federal judge ruled in their favor.
Southern Negro Youth Congress met in Columbia. W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson attended.
The Negro Citizens Committee conducted a voter registration campaign to open the Democratic Party primary to blacks. The committee organized teams of prospective black voters in Columbia to register including George Elmore, an entrepreneur and political activist.
Black voters, including George Elmore, attempted to vote in the August primary but were turned away by Democratic Party officials. Harold Boulware, the head of the state conference legal committee, filed a class action lawsuit, Elmore v. Rice. Declaring that it “is time for South Carolina to rejoin the Union,” Judge J. Waties Waring’s ruling opened the
primary to all South Carolinians.
Aided by the NAACP, John Wrighten sues to integrate the law school at the University of South Carolina. Rather than permit him to enter USC, the state of South Carolina funded the creation of a separate law school at segregated South Carolina State College.
At the annual convention of the South Carolina NAACP, Rev. James Hinton states that “the State Conference…would seek persistently to end segregation and discrimination in American life.”
1947 – 1950
The campaign to challenge “separate but equal” education began in Clarendon County, South Carolina. Led by A.M.E. minister J.A. DeLaine, the effort resulted in the filing of Briggs v. Elliott (1951), the first of five cases that comprised the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court case.
At its annual convention, the PDP elected twenty-eight delegates to take its case for black inclusion as party members to the Democratic National Convention.
July 13, 1948
The PDP delegation met political defeat at the hands of South Carolina Governor Strom Thurmond and the “States’ Rights” wing of the Democrats at the National Convention in Philadelphia.
July 15, 1948
After leading an exodus of “States’ Rights” Democrats from the convention floor in Philadelphia, Gov. Thurmond addressed the first convention of the new party in Birmingham. He declared that there were “not enough troops in the Army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the Negro race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into school and into our homes.”
July 16, 1948
Exasperated with the Democratic Party’s continued refusal to abide by the Elmore ruling, Judge Waring issues an injunction mandating that the state Democratic Party open its membership rolls and allow all parties, without regard to “race, color, creed, or condition,” to participate in the August primary. Before the books closed, thirty-five thousand African Americans ha registered as members of the Democratic Party.
South Carolina Governor James Byrnes supports a three-cent sales tax for education, mainly to equalize school facilities for blacks to avoid integration.
June 23, 1951
The South Carolina District Court rules in favor of the Clarendon County School Board in Briggs v. Elliott by 2-1 split decision. In his dissenting opinion, Judge Waring declares “segregation is per se inequality” and called upon the Supreme Court to render justice “for all men and all kinds of men.”
The city of Columbia hires its first black firemen (8 Total).
May 17, 1954
In the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court declared state laws establishing segregated public schools unconstitutional.
June 22, 1954
Sarah Mae Flemming, a young African American domestic worker, was struck by a Columbia bus driver for sitting in the front and ejected from the bus on the corner of Main and Washington streets.
February 16, 1955
NAACP lawyers file a lawsuit, Sarah Mae Flemming v. South Carolina Electric and Gas. The Lawsuit is filed nearly ten months before Rosa Parks’ famous act of civil disobedience.
January 26, 1956
Over 3,500 turn out to hear Mississippi Sen. James O. Eastland speak at a Citizens Council rally at Columbia’s Township Auditorium.
The Ku Klux Klan held two mass rallies at the State House in opposition to civil rights activities and labor activism in the state.
Five men are elected or appointed to the initial SC Civil Rights Advisory Board.
February 10, 1960
John McCray wrote to Mayor Lester Bates requesting improved bus facilities after a visit to the Greyhound station on Blanding Street.
February 14-15, 1960
Students at Allen University and Benedict College hold rallies to protest school and community segregation.
March 2, 1960
Approximately 50 students from Allen University and Benedict College conduct the first sit-in protests in Columbia at the Woolworth and S.H. Kress department stores. The next day, five hundred students gathered to protest; nearly two hundred of these students marched to the main business center of the city where businesses closed in preparation for their arrival.
March 5, 1960
The South Carolina Student Movement Association (SCSMA) is formed.
March 7, 1960
The South Carolina Council on Human Relations (SCCHR) announced the group’s support of the student led sit-in movement.
March 10, 1960
Governor Hollings warned students at Benedict College and Allen University that they would be arrested if they participated in a planned “pilgrimage” to the State House on March 11. The presidents of Benedict and Allen, John McCray, and other African American leaders publicly declared their opposition to the planned protest and the larger sit-in campaign. The SCSMA called off the protest.
March 14, 1960
Simon Bouie and Talmadge Neal, two college students, took seats in a booth in the restaurant department of Eckerd’s Drug Store and waited to be served. Bouie and Neal were also charged with criminal trespass and convicted. Their appeal was paired with those of Barr and his fellow students to be decided in the Supreme Court in June 1964.
March 15, 1960
Charles Barr, Milton Green, Richard Counts, Johnny Clark and another unidentified college student entered the Taylor Street Pharmacy and proceeded to the lunch counter after making purchases at the front of the store. After a brief exchange with police, the four were arrested and charged with criminal trespass.
March 15, 1960
Members of the South Carolina Student Movement Association held a protest in Columbia designed to take place on the same day as one scheduled in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Police arrested 11 students over the course of two days. In Orangeburg, more than one thousand students from Claflin and South Carolina State College were hosed and gassed. Three hundred and eighty students were jailed, including famed photographer Cecil Williams.
Rev. I. DeQuincey Newman led a four-mile march through Columbia to the Municipal Airport to desegregate the waiting rooms. Shortly afterward, Newman led a group of divinity students from Allen and Benedict Colleges to challenge the all-white policy at
Sesquicentennial State Park.
October 15, 1960
Students at Allen and Benedict formed the Student Conference for Human Rights in order to facilitate cross-campus and citywide organizing.
Columbia police arrest 12 students at a storefront sit-in. Thirteen others, who had gathered outside the jail in order to welcome back their fellow organizers, were also taken into custody.
February 5, 1961
The SCCHR Student Council hosts its first student workshop at Allen University. The theme was “The Role of the Student in Achieving Human Rights,” and featured a keynote address from Ella Baker.
February 18, 1961
Mounting pressure from the black community and the arrest of student demonstrators at bus stations force the Greyhound bus terminal in Columbia to serve customers on an equal basis.
March 2, 1961
Marchers consisting of African American high school and college students met at the Zion Baptist Church and marched to the South Carolina State House grounds. There, they sang various religious songs and conducted what the South Carolina Supreme Court described as “noisy demonstration in defiance of [the dispersal] orders.” 187 students were arrested along with Rev. Newman, Dr. B.J. Glover, and future U.S. Congressman James Clyburn. Those arrested later filed a lawsuit, Edwards v. South Carolina, which was heard in the U.S. Supreme Court in December 1962.
March 5, 1961
Two leaders of a student committee, Lennie Glover and David Carter, were on a routine check of a sit-in at Woolworth’s when Glover was stabbed by an unknown assailant. He eventually recovered and returned to rejoin demonstrations.
March 24-26, 1961
In response to the Glover stabbing, Black students led a boycott of Main Street businesses. The “Easter Lennie Glover No Buying Campaign” featured daily picketing and sit-ins.
Columbia desegregates its lunch counters. State legislators vote to raise the Confederate Battle Flag atop the State House in opposition to integration.
December 13, 1962
The Edwards v. South Carolina trial begins.
January 9, 1963
In his final speech as Governor, Fritz Hollings states that the day of segregation has passed. He calls for the integration process to be handled “with dignity.”
January 15, 1963
Donald Russell is inaugurated as Governor of South Carolina. At the inaugural barbecue, over 100 black citizens are in attendance.
January 16, 1963
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals orders Clemson University to admit Harvey Gantt.
January 22, 1963
Federal District Court Judge C.C. Wyche signs the order admitting Gantt to Clemson.
January 28, 1963
Accompanied by Matthew Perry, Harvey Gantt arrives at Clemson University and enrolls.
February 25, 1963
The Supreme Court rules in Edwards v. South Carolina that the Fourteenth Amendment does not permit the State “to make criminal the peaceful expression of unpopular views.” Civil disobedience is declared a legal act performed by citizens of the state to express their grievances.
April 17, 1963
Malcolm X gives a fiery address at a mosque in Columbia. The Muslim leader bitterly denounced Columbia’s political leaders and African American supporters of integration.
April 18, 1963
The Brown v. South Carolina Forestry Commission case opens
April 25, 1963
Robert Kennedy speaks at the University of South Carolina. In his speech, he explained that “the practical needs of the world today would compel our national government…to do everything possible to eliminate racial discrimination.”
John Pough, Jr. is named the city’s first African American bus driver by South Carolina Electric and Gas Company. In 1975, he became the city’s first Black Transit Manager.
May 20, 1963
Over 1,000 USC students participate in an anti-integration rally in Columbia. Students marched to the State House chanting “We don’t want to integrate.”
June 5, 1963
Rev. I. DeQuincey Newman announces that the organization will stage massive demonstrations in eight S.C. cities unless negotiations begin to “solve racial differences.”
June 19, 1963
Columbia Mayor Lester Bates announces that he sees no need for the city to appoint a bi-racial committee to negotiate the integration process.
June 21, 1963
Henri Monteith’s case to gain admission to the University of South Carolina opens in U.S. District Court.
June 24-26, 1963
The Most Rev. Francis F. Reh announces that South Carolina’s 37 Roman Catholic schools will desegregate by September 1964.
July 10, 1963
In the Brown v. South Carolina Forestry Commission decision, Judge Robert Martin orders all state parks in the state to desegregate within sixty days. Instead, the South Carolina Forestry Commission closes all of the state’s parks.
July 10, 1963
Judge Martin orders the University of South Carolina to admit Henri Monteith for the fall semester. The university’s appeal is denied on July 22nd.
July 25, 1963
Robert Anderson of Greenville, SC applies as a transfer student to the University of South Carolina. He receives his acceptance letter on August 2nd. The following day, James Solomon of Sumter applies to the graduate school at the university.
July 29, 1963
The University of South Carolina’s Board of Trustees announces that it will comply with the order to desegregate the university.
August 1, 1963
The “Committee of 85” in Columbia votes to urge the city council to adopt a non-discriminatory hiring policy.
August 12, 1963
Leading Columbia merchants announce that they have removed all segregation signs from water fountains, restrooms, and dressing rooms, and agree to adopt non-racial employment policies.
August 27, 1963
A bomb explodes near Henri Monteith’s home in Columbia. No one was injured in the blast.
August 28, 1963
Sumter NAACP chairman James T. McCain serves at a key organizer for the March on Washington.
September 9-10, 1963
Columbia experiences its first protest marches in over a year, as twenty-three blacks are arrested during a demonstration along Main Street. The next day, sixty blacks march along the same street but avoid arrest.
September 11, 1963
Henrie Monteith, James Solomon, and Robert Anderson enrolled as the first African American students at USC since the era of Reconstruction.
September 12, 1963
As protest marches continue in Columbia, the “Committee of 85” adopts a resolution calling on motel, hotel, and theater owners to desegregate. Later this month, the Downtowner Motel (corner of Lady and Main streets) agrees to do so.
October 14, 1963
South Carolina officially “runs out of courts” as the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Clemson University’s appeal.
November 18-19, 1963
The annual meeting of the South Carolina Council on Human Relations is held in the newly desegregated Downtowner Hotel in Columbia.
December 12, 1963
Five movie theaters in Columbia agree to admit one black couple each and announce they will fully desegregate effective January 7, 1964.
December 20, 1963
Reverend I. DeQuincey Newman announces that more demonstrations will be held despite objections from the “Committee of 85.”
June 1, 1964
South Carolina parks reopen on a restricted basis.
June 22, 1964
The Supreme Court reverses the convictions of Simon Bouie, Talmadge Neal, Charles Barr and the other participants in the “sit-in” protests of March 1960. The decisions in the two cases, Simon Bouie, et al v. City of Columbia and Charles Barr, et al v. City of Columbia, make it illegal to charge individuals with trespassing without prior warning.
The desegregation of public schools begins in Columbia.
July 20, 1966
South Carolina parks reopen as fully integrated facilities.
The Columbia Urban League is established.
Black United for Action, Inc. is chartered.
February 8, 1968
Three students at South Carolina State University were killed and dozens are wounded by National Guardsmen. Troops had been summoned as a result of protests against continued segregation at a local bowling alley. The event became known as the “Orangeburg Massacre.”
March 13, 1968
South Carolina State students demonstrate at the State House in response
to the “Orangeburg Massacre.”
The United Citizens Party is organized in South Carolina due to the Democratic Party’s refusal to nominate black candidates and support legislation to improve economic conditions.
Anti-war demonstrations at the University of South Carolina result in takeovers of the Russell House and Administration building. The National Guard is called in to end the protests and restore order.
The court ordered desegregation of 21 South Carolina school districts begins. The following month, black and white students clash at A.C. Flora High School in Columbia. Over the next few years, racial skirmishes are commonplace in high schools across the state.
I.S. Leevy Johnson, Herbert Fielding, and James Felder become the first African Americans elected to the State House of Representatives since Reconstruction.
Beaufort, S.C. native and World Heavyweight Champion “Smokin'” Joe Frazier becomes the first African American to address the State Legislature since Reconstruction, calling for racial reconciliation and tolerance among the state’s citizens.
The South Carolina State Fair ends its longstanding practice of hosting “Negro Days” and fully integrates.
November 5, 1974
Juanita Goggins of Rock Hill becomes the first black woman elected to the State Legislature.
September 22, 1979
Matthew Perry becomes the first African American federal judge in South Carolina history.
James E. Clyburn is elected to the United States House of Representatives.
Ernest A. Finney is appointed the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court.
After a lengthy protest campaign, the South Carolina State Legislature decreed that the Confederate Battle Flag atop the State House would be moved to a ceremonial plot on the capitol grounds. The NAACP declared that its statewide tourism boycott would continue until it is permanently removed.
April 20, 2010
Steve Benjamin, a graduate of USC Law School and former director of the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, wins a run-off election to become Columbia’s first African American mayor. Running on the campaign theme “One Columbia: Unity,
Hope, and Promise,” Benjamin won 56% of the vote.