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Desegregation in South Carolina Schools: School Desegregation


Get a quick overview of school desegregation in South Carolina and browse SCPC's relevant holdings below.

Collection Connections

Box 75. Civil rights records including CORE pamphlet about early school integration.

Boxes 28, 36. Includes speeches on school desegregation.

Boxes 99, 117, 144. Contains correspondence about implementing desegregation plans, statistical reports on the racial balance of some South Carolina school districts, and letters about district failures to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Box 107. Contains general civil rights records including educational desegregation, governor's meetings, the Lamar Incident (1970), and the boycotts at Voorhees College (1970). Some correspondence about school desegregation is also included in the Staff Files: County Files (Box 23-5).

Box 1. Selection of political cartoons about state and national civil rights.


About School Desegregation

Basic information on early school desegregation efforts can be found scattered throughout the collections, including items such as a CORE pamphlet labeled “First step toward school integration” and the Southern School News issue from March 1960 featuring news about school desegregation across the region (both Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston Collection, Box 75). The William D. Workman Jr. Collection has several school desegregation speeches (Box 28). “The Legal Standing of the South’s School Resistance Proposals,” published in 1954 by the S.C. Bar Association, offers an alternative perspective on how and why some Southern states planned to dodge the new rules for desegregating (Workman, Box 36).

As schools began to desegregate, many were not following the laws of desegregation properly. This general “confusion” about how to desegregate is reflected in various political cartoons in the Walt Lardner Collection (Box 1). The Robert E. McNair Collection contains material on McNair’s choice to lead the citizens of South Carolina to accept the rulings of desegregation, despite strong opposition. A February 1, 1970 article in the Detroit Free Press, reports that the “big question, of course, is whether most white children will show up for totally integrated classes.” McNair hoped this would not be an issue, adding: “We must adjust to new circumstances,” and “We don’t want to bring up another generation of illiterates” (Box 107).

The Ernest F. Hollings Collection is home to a substantial number of documents that address the plans for Freedom of Choice Schooling across South Carolina. Questions and rules about forced busing are included (Box 117). The Hollings Collection contains correspondence on enacting desegregation plans regarding teacher ratios, including a “Beaufort County Analysis of Staff,” which highlights the district hiring plans to balance the ratio (Box 144). Another piece, the "S.C. Terminal Plan Districts," lists the racial identity of teachers by school district for the 1969-1970 school year. Merely two districts saw a net gain in the number of black staff members from the previous year (Box 144). Additionally, there are letters from the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent to the Lexington County school district and several other districts about failures to desegregate and noncompliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 during the 1967-1968 school year. The collection holds a general statement from the Department describing the new policies, as well as examples of the letters that were sent home to parents informing them that separate schools would no longer exist (Box 99).