Civil Rights

Charleston Employment Service White & Colored

Casimer Kowalski. Solid South. 1983. Glass & wood. 49" x 59". Image courtesy of the SC Arts Commission.

Many South Carolinians participated in the struggle for equal rights, including Septima Poinsette Clark, Modjeska Monteith Simkins, and the participants in the landmark Briggs v. Elliott court case.

Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina

  • Harvey Gantt 
    Harvey Gantt was the first African American student to attend Clemson University when he began classes on February 1, 1963.
  • Orangeburg Massacre
    On the night of February 8th, 1968, three students were killed by police gunfire on the South Carolina State University campus in Orangeburg. Find out more about this incident that became known as the Orangeburg Massacre.
  • Martin Luther King speaks in Kingstree, SC May 9, 1966
    Watch a video of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Kingstree speaking on voting.
  • The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
    Read stories of people and personal narratives, explore the interactive maps, and learn about the struggles of African Americans against government-sanctioned segregation.
  • Friendship 9
    Students in Rock Hill went to jail after staging a sit-in at a segregated McCrory's lunch counter in 1961.  


  • Mary McLeod Bethune
    Mary McLeod Bethune opened a school for poor African American children in Daytona, Florida and worked as an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Septima Poinsette Clark
    Septima Clark was an African American educator and activist for equal rights who worked with the NAACP and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Sarah Mae Flemming
    Sarah Mae Flemming sued bus owners in Columbia for an incident which occurred 17 months before Rosa Parks took her stand in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Isaiah DeQuincey Newman
    Isaiah DeQuincey Newman was a minister and civil rights leader who became the first African American since 1887 to serve in the state Senate.
  • Modjeska Simkins
    Modjeska Simkins was an African American civil rights activist who was the Secretary of the NAACP in South Carolina and helped write the court case for Briggs v. Elliott.

Briggs v. Elliot

briggs versus elliott medal

Medal from the US Mint to commemorate Reverend Joseph A. DeLaine, Harry and Eliza Briggs and Levi Pearson for their contributions to the Nation as pioneers in the effort to desegregate public schools that led directly to the landmark desegregation case of Brown et al. v. the Board of Education of Topeka et al.

Briggs v. Elliott was a court case from Clarendon County that was one of the five cases combined into Brown v. Board of Education in which the U.S. Supreme officially overturned racial segregation in U.S. public schools.

Native American Civil Rights


Sit-ins were an integral part of the mass protests during the Civil Rights Movement. In the South, groups would seat themselves at a restaurant or other location until they are evicted or arrested, or their requests have been met. Sit-ins were effective because they are a non-violent way of protesting but often led to violence against the participants. There were sit-ins in several cities around the region, including Rock Hill, Charlotte, and Orangeburg.