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Black History Month, 2017: Clarendon County, SC, the Briggs v. Elliott Case, and the Road to Brown v. Board of Education: Notable African-American Educators from SC

This guide was created for Black History Month, 2017.

Augusta Baker

Although not born in SC (rather Baltimore, Maryland), Baker ended her career as a librarian and storyteller here, becoming Storyteller-in Residence at the University of SC.  A yearly storytelling event, called A(ugusta) Baker's Dozen, is held in her honor.

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune

Born in Maysville, SC in 1875, Dr. Bethune was 15th of 17 children born to freed slaves.  In 1904 in Daytona, Florida, with only $1.50 and six young children, she founded the Daytona Educational and Industrial School for Girls.  That school later merged with the Cookman Institute and became Bethune-Cookman College.  She later served as advisor on racial affairs to Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower.  She also founded the National Council for Negro Women in Washington, DC.

James A. Blake

Born in Marion, SC, James A. Blake, Sr. was the first African American appointed to the SC State Board of Education.  In 1974, he was Chairperson of that board and, as a result, his signature can be found on every high school diploma and every teacher's certificate awarded that year.

Among many of his awards and honors are those of Martin Luther King Award for Excellence in Education and the Allen University Doctorate of Humane Letters degree.

Septima Poinsette Clark

Septima Poinsette Clark was a teacher and civil rights activist whose citizenship schools helped enfranchise and empower African Americans.  In the 1920's she advocated for Black teachers to be allowed to teach in Charleston public schools.  After being named Vice President of the Charleston branch of the SC NAACP, she was barred from public teaching in South Carolina altogether. She went on to train students on the sea islands and she formed schools for illiterate adults.

Allen Lewis Code, Sr.

"Fessor Code," as he was known by his students, was born in Pinewood.  He earned his BA from Benedict College, his MA from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an Honorary Doctorate from Wofford College.  He held many educational positions in the state and went on to win the Order of the Palmetto Award and was chosen by President George Bush as one of the "Thousand Points of Light" for his contributions to his country.

Marian Wright Edleman

Born in Bennettsville, Ms. Edleman attended Spellman and graduated from Yale Law School. She founded the Washington Research Project which became the Children's Defense Fund in 1973.  She has received the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was awarded the MacArthur "Genius Grant" in recognition of the importance of her work.

Linda Dingle Gadson

In 1966, Ms. Gadson was one of nine students to desegregate the College of Charleston from which she graduated with a degree in political science.   She serves as Executive Director of the Rural Mission on Johns Island, where she is counselor, doctor, minister, teacher, lawyer to people on Johns, James, Edisto, Wadmalaw, and Yonges Islands.

Harvey B. Gantt

Though not an educator in the traditional sense of the word, Harvey Gantt opened the door for thousands of African-American students when he became the first Black to enter and graduate from a white college in SC.  In 1961, he was admitted under court order to Clemson and graduated from there in 1965 with a degree in architecture.  He then received a Masters in city planning from MIT.  He moved to Charlotte, NC and started the Gantt Huberman Architectural Firm.  He also served on Charlotte's City Council and was elected Mayor for two term.  He continues to be interested in the Arts and in politics and speaks and many colleges and universities about his experiences.

James T. McCain

Born in Sumter, James T. McCain graduated from Morris College and then earned a Masters in Education from Temple University. in 1955, he was barred from teaching in SC because of his affiliation with the NAACP.  He was instrumental in bringing the values and goals of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) into the South.

Dr. Maceo Nance

Born in Columbia, Dr. Nance received degrees from SC State and from NY University.  In 1968, during his first year as President of SC State, he had to commandeer the campus community through the "Orangeburg Massacre" and its fallout. Under Nance, the school’s enrollment more than doubled. S.C. State added about two dozen degree programs and the university underwent an aggressive building campaign that modernized the campus. His courage, intelligence and political talents helped him start dialogue between the races in SC.

Wilfred Junius Walker

Born in Manning in 1912, Mr. Walker taught masonry, plastering, English, drafting and mathematics in the Greenville County School District. Many of his students went on to work on structures like the Peace Center and won recognition for the high quality of their work. Walker also had a love for music and for broadcasting and became the first African American radio sports broadcaster in SC.  In his lifetime, he won numerous awards for his work both education and broadcasting, including the Order of the Palmetto from Gov. Mark Sanford.