South Carolina Civil Rights Leaders

Bernice Stokes Robinson | Courtesy of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, College of Charleston, SC, USA

In continuation of celebrating Black History Month, we are honoring the life + legacy of some Black Civil Rights leaders and activists from South Carolina

Here are key facts about important Black figures from the Palmetto State whose legacy lives on today.

Septima Clark | Charleston

Septima Poinsette Clark | Courtesy of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, College of Charleston, SC, USA

Mary McLeod Bethune | Mayesville

Mary Mcleod Bethune | Courtesy of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, College of Charleston, SC, USA
  • Educator who taught at schools in South Carolina + Georgia and established schools in Florida 
  • Started a small school for Black girls that became Bethune-Cookman University
  • First Black woman to serve as a college president
  • Established programs to end segregated education, improve healthcare for Black children + help women use the voting ballot
  • Eighth national president for National Association of Colored Women 
  • Created the National Council of Negro Women
  • President Roosevelt electer her as the first Black woman to head the Federal Council on Negro Affairs, a federal agency also known as the “Black Cabinet” 
  • Portrait hangs in the State House in Columbia

Bernice Stokes Robinson | Sumter County

Bernice Stokes Robinson | Courtesy of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, College of Charleston, SC, USA
  • Educator involved with voter-registration drives
  • Selected by Highlander + the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to set up voter-registration workshops across South
  • Established Citizenship Schools to teach Black people how to read the Constitution, so they could register to vote (required at of the time due to discriminatory laws)
  • First teacher for the Citizenship Schools on Johns Island
  • Along with  Esau Jenkins + Septima Clark, credited with helping two million disenfranchised citizens earn the right to vote
  • First Black woman to run for the state House of Representatives

Modjeska Monteith Simkins | Columbia

Modjeska Monteith Simkins | Courtesy of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture, College of Charleston, SC, USA

Harvey Gantt | Charleston