Fifty years after the end of segregation, Columbia is taking a hard look back at its civil rights struggles and racial progress.
Richland Library is a partner in Columbia SC 63, an initiative that will reconstruct forgotten 1963 Columbia events and exhibit rarely or never-before-seen images in order to piece together a more complete telling of Columbia and South Carolina’s place in the struggle.
“We are starting to piece together the texture of this great city,” said Columbia City Mayor Steve Benjamin. “All these things are a chance to connect Columbia’s past and present with the future, but it’s also a chance to leave a lasting legacy.”
Join the Conversation
Take a look back at race relations in the South during 1954—ten years prior to the eradication of segregation—with the help of Charlotte-based author Anna Jean Mayhew. Join your friends and neighbors in One Book, One Columbia as we discuss the riveting depiction of Southern life in the throes of segregation presented in her novel The Dry Grass of August. Keep the conversation going at a Town Hall meeting with Mayor Steve Benjamin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 21.
Columbia’s Civil Rights Activists:
Columbia boasted a number of American heroes who made it possible for citizens to join together as equals free from fear and violence. Local activists included the following:
(Links may require you to log in with your library card number and PIN, which is usually the last four digits of your home phone number.)
- Robert Anderson, Henrie Monteith, & James Solomon integrated USC in 1963 ("USC to Look Back on Segregation," The State, Wednesday, November 16, 1988)
- Ernest Finney, SC's first African American Supreme Court Chief Justice ("Finney: The Law Works," The State, Sunday, June 5, 2011
- Sarah Mae Flemming, who was expelled from a bus in Columbia seventeen months before Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat on an Alabama bus in 1955. Flemming's lawsuit against the bus company played an important role later in the Parks case. ("Film Hails Sarah Mae Flemming," The State, Thursday, April 7, 2005)
- The Honorable Matthew Perry, the South’s first African-American federal judge (Matthew J. Perry : the man, his times, and his legacy / edited by W. Lewis Burke and Belinda F. Gergel)
- Modjeska Simkins, teacher, political activist and writer, featured in American Tapestry: Eyewitness Accounts of the Twentieth Century, by Tom Tiede
Know of other activists not on the list? Make a suggestion.
Richland Library has thousands of resources for more information on Black History Month.
Discover and explore materials from leading books, magazines and newspapers from the time period using Accessible Archives.
Ancestry.com is free to library users (inside the library) and includes Social Security Death Index, WWI Draft Registration Cards, Federal Slave Narratives, and a strong Civil War collection -- research yourself!