Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Desegregation in South Carolina Schools

Desegregation and Related Events in South Carolina Schools

Welcome to the South Carolina Political Collections (SCPC) subject guide for Desegregation and Related Events in South Carolina Schools. Below we've listed some of the topics from SCPC's collections that you might find useful.

  • School Desegregation: South Carolinians had a variety of responses to the desegregation of schools across the state.
  • Opposition to Desegregation: Throughout the twentieth century, particularly in the 1950s, white South Carolinians pushed back against desegregation efforts.
  • Harvey Gantt: Harvey Gantt was the first African-American student admitted to Clemson University in 1963.
  • Allen University and Benedict College: In 1957, faculty members at Allen University and Benedict College, two all-black institutions in Columbia, South Carolina, were fired for Communist ties.
  • Orangeburg Massacre: On February 8, 1968, South Carolina Highway Patrol opened fire on a group of approximately 200 protestors demonstrating against racial segregation on South Carolina State University's campus.

If you have any questions or comments about this guide please contact us. This guide isn't exhaustive, so check out our finding aids below.

School Desegregation Collection Connections

Opposition to Desegregation Collection Connections

Letters encouraging Olin Dewitt Talmadge Johnston (ODJ) in his opposition of desegregation are found throughout his collection and effectively capture the sentiment of the constituents at the time, including reactions to the Brown v. Board ruling (Box 40). There are countless requests and even petitions for ODJ to stop Congress and the Supreme Court as they attempted to desegregate the nation (Boxes 47, 89). For example, in 1953 student Larry Duncan wrote, “Perhaps I am prejudiced by my previous training however I think all races should be separate” (Box 35). Another constituent supported segregation in the form of an Aesop’s fable, titled “Aesop did not write this one” (Box 40). A copy of the anti-desegregation publication, The White Sentinel (August 1955), speculates on the effects of military desegregation. It is a useful sampling of the perspectives held by advocates of segregation (Box 46). An assortment of clippings relates to the closing of schools which refused to integrate as well as the issue of Federal School Aid in 1955 (Boxes 132, 133).

The William D. Workman Jr. Collection contains many pamphlets, booklets, and reports in response to desegregation which offer useful comparisons (Box 35). In "Eliminating Racial Segregation in the Baltimore Public Schools," a Baltimore superintendent says, “no effort will be made deliberately to transfer children of either race for the purpose of mixing schools.” (Box 34).

Clippings highlighting police brutality during the Civil Rights Era are located in the Workman Collection. The bulk of the articles have a heavy focus on arrests of African Americans at sit-ins, trespassing charges, and the Rock Hill protests (Box 47). In-depth insight into the issue is present in the book Violence and Dissent in Urban America and in an essay written by the Dean of Criminology at the University of California titled “New Dimensions of the Police Problems in Racial Tension and Conflict” (Box 35).

Harvey Gantt Collection Connections

Harvey Gantt, who studied architecture, was the first African-American admitted to Clemson University in 1963.

Allen University and Benedict College Collection Connections

In 1957, faculty members at Allen University and Benedict College, two all-black institutions in Columbia, South Carolina, were fired for Communist ties.

The William D. Workman Jr. Collection contains the majority of information on the dismissal of the three teachers at each of the schools (Box 27). There are clippings discussing how the schools lost their certifications, as can be seen in “S.C. No Longer To Accept Allen’s Education Courses: No Reasons Are Given For Action” (Box 48).


Much commentary can be found in the Workman collection about the eventual acceptance of white refugee students at Allen University. Clippings pertaining to a similar situation at Benedict College and relating to USC’s early refusal to accept black students are located in this collection as well (Box 48). 

The Orangeburg Massacre Collection Connections

On February 8, 1968, South Carolina Highway Patrol opened fire on a group of approximately 200 protestors demonstrating against racial segregation on South Carolina State University's campus.

Racial tensions over segregation had been increasing in Orangeburg for some time. Students from South Carolina State University, a historically Black college, had begun the protests in the fall of 1967. Students peacefully entered a local bowling alley, All Star Bowling Lane, to try to convince owner Harry K. Floyd to admit Blacks. He refused. The students returned on February 5, 1968, and were told to leave. They came back again the following day, and several students were arrested. Chaos broke out, and police beatings sent eight protestors to the hospital. Students continued to gather on the campus of South Carolina State University in protest of the segregated bowling alley.

On February 8, 1968, students started a bonfire at the campus. Police and firefighters responded to the fire, and, shortly after officer David Shealy was injured, South Carolina Highway Patrol Officers opened fire on the crowd. Twenty-seven people were injured, and three Black men were killed: Samuel Hammond, Henry Smith, and Delano Middleton.

Suggested Books