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Photo by Cecil Williams - "Lenny Glover, April 1961"

Freedom and Justice: Cecil Williams Captures Columbia's Civil Rights Movement

Most histories of the American civil rights movement focus on places like Montgomery, Little Rock, Birmingham, and Selma. Our hometown of Columbia, SC is a lesser recognized but important hotbed of meaningful civil rights activism in the 1960s and surrounding decades.

South Carolina students, attorneys, and civil rights groups organized sit-ins, marches, pickets, protests and legal battles here in Columbia in order to end segregation and economic disparities, and gain social justice and equal access to quality education. These efforts did not go unnoticed by civil rights leaders and supporters such as W.E.B. DuBois, Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John F. Kennedy, who visited the city to lend their assistance and encouragement.

Photographer Cecil Williams, a native of Orangeburg, SC, was a participant and witness throughout Columbia's and the state's civil rights movement, capturing this struggle for fundamental human rights in a series of striking images.

Freedom and Justice: Cecil Williams Captures Columbia's Civil Rights Movement, illuminates the local campaign for equality and tells the stories of those who risked everything to break through racial barriers in South Carolina's capital city. This exhibit, also including video footage and news coverage from the time period, is on display now through September in the Gallery at Richland Library Main, 1431 Assembly Street, on the Garden Level.

This exhibit is made possible through a partnership with the Columbia SC 63 Initiative, with support from the University of South Carolina's Moving Images Research Collections.


Amazon Says: The 1949 Briggs vs. Elliot case that originated in Clarendon County and the Orangeburg selective buying campaign were both crucial events in the creation of the civil rights m more...
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Amazon Says: Orangeburg 1968 documents one of the least remembered chapters of America's Civil Rights history the Orangeburg Massacre. On February 8, 1968, over 150 students gathered on th more...
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Columbia by Vennie Deas-Moore
Amazon Says: South Carolina's capital city enjoys a strong African-American presence, one that has had considerable influence on the growth and development of Columbia's commerce and cultu more...
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Amazon Says: Two classic collections of freedom songs by historians Guy and Candie Carawan, We Shall Overcome (1963) and Freedom is a Constant Struggle (1968), are reprinted here in a single edition. Sing for Freedom includes a major new introduction by the editors, as well as words and music to original songs from the Civil Rights movement. The book also offers documentary photographs and scores of firsthand accounts by participants in the movement. less...
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