From Racial Uplift to Protest Politics: South Carolina’s Teacher Salary Equalization Campaign

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By: Candace Cunningham
Ph.D. Candidate
University of South Carolina

South Carolina’s 1940s teacher salary equalization campaign was one of the state’s most vibrant and impactful moments of black teacher activism. The state’s first three equalization cases—Malissa Theresa Smith, Eugene C. Hunt, and Viola Louis Duvall—originated in Charleston, but Duvall’s case was the only one to make it to federal district court. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) won Duvall’s case in 1944, but they were eager to guarantee salary equalization. When Albert N. Thompson, a teacher at Columbia’s Booker Washington Heights Elementary School, submitted his salary equalization petition to the Richland County School Board on June 7, 1944, the NAACP was more than willing to offer legal support. Thompson’s case would serve as the final nail in the coffin for unequal teacher salaries in South Carolina. The NAACP abandoned the local appeals process, and instead directly petitioned the federal district court.

On May 26, 1945, Judge Waites Waring ruled in Thompson’s favor, concluding that Columbia’s black teachers were entitled to a fair salary plan. Waring believed that since Duvall’s case, the school district had made an effort to alleviate unequal pay, but there was still a “startling disparity” between black and white teachers’ salaries, even when they had the same amount of experience. The Board had to begin a new classification system, effective spring 1946.

The state based the new classification system on the National Teacher Examination (NTE). Some white officials, such as Columbia school superintendent A. C. Flora, were hesitant to support the exam out of concern that it could prove that black teachers were better trained than some white teachers. But despite the overwhelming evidence that black teachers were dedicated professionals, they were also the products of an unequal education system. Ben D. Wood, the NTE creator, predicted that black teachers would score lower than white teachers. The South Carolina State Board of Education did a two-year study that supported Wood’s prediction, and beginning in 1945 all the state’s teachers were required to take the exam. Rev J. A. De Laine—the Clarendon County teacher who became the foremost leader in the state’s desegregation case, Briggs v. Elliott—rightly called the new certification program an “effort to legally dodge an equal salary decision by the Federal Court.”

South Carolina’s use of the NTE not only facilitated unequal salaries between black and white teachers but also emphasized the black community’s preexisting economic disparities. The gap between the highest and lowest paid teachers widened. Those who did well on the exam and earned higher wages were better financially situated to pursue advanced degrees and increase their earning potential. These additional economic and educational achievements helped legitimize the state’s use of standardized testing since white officials could now present this as proof of the exam’s alleged objectivity. Therefore, while race remained the defining factor in teacher salaries, post-NTE remuneration was also bound to individual socioeconomic status.

Nonetheless, the teacher salary equalization campaign also revealed the shifting tides of civil rights activism. These suits helped to increase the NAACP’s southern membership. They were sometimes the first experience African Americans had in formal protests and provided the foundation for a broader protest movement. Indeed, those who participated in the campaign found it transformative and defining. For NAACP secretary Modjeska Simkins the equalization campaign served as a catalyst—a move from racial uplift to protest politics. Furthermore, many of the individuals who helped realize teacher salary equalization—civil rights attorney Harold Boulware, teacher/activist Septima Clark, journalist/politician John McCray, military veteran/activist Osceola McKain, and Modjeska Simkins—would become seminal figures in the state’s civil rights movement. As this campaign transformed activists it also transformed the whole movement.

These individuals are only a few of the people who played a vital role in Columbia’s rich cultural history. To learn more about them and other black Carolinians please join Historic Columbia for one of its Lunch & Learn Series as it celebrates Black History Month, February 21 & 28, 12-1PM at the Mann-Simons Site, 1403 Richland Street.

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Absolute Slaves: Race, Law and Society in Antebellum South Carolina

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By Rochelle Outlaw, J.D., Ph.D. Candidate, USC

Today, South Carolina remains one of the most diverse states in the union. According to the 2015 census, nearly 37 percent of South Carolina’s residents identified as a racial minority. Approximately, 28 percent of the state’s population is African American. The state’s racial diversity is grounded in the history of the founding of the colony.

 
Closely linked to the island of Barbados, South Carolina was the only colony where blacks outnumbered whites at the turn of the eighteenth century. The arrival of African slaves and free people of color from Barbados and a limited number of white women in the colony all contributed to a society that was accepting of racial diversity and interracial relationships. Unlike other southern states including North Carolina and Virginia, South Carolina never adopted a one-drop rule and did not have an anti-miscegenation clause in its constitution until 1865.

 
Indeed, South Carolina society had changed by the beginning of the nineteenth century. Racial slavery was embedded in its society and whites viewed slavery as their key to prosperity. What did not change about the state, however, was that as such, South Carolina offers a unique opportunity to study race, law and society during the antebellum period.

 
To learn about the common-law definition of race and how it related to social and political thought on race in antebellum South Carolina, attend Historic Columbia’s Lunch and Learn series from noon – 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21. This session will be led by guest presenter, Rochelle Outlaw, J.D., Ph.D. Candidate at the University of South Carolina and will be held at the Mann-Simons Site located at 1403 Richland Street. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit historiccolumbia.org/BlackHistory, email reservations@historiccolumbia.org or call 803-252-1770 x 23.

 

This article was originally published in the Columbia Star.

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Volunteer with Historic Columbia

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Historic Columbia was founded in 1961 by a group of concerned local citizens who volunteered their time, talents and passion for history in order to save the Robert Mills House and open it to the public. Ever since, volunteers have played an essential role in the organization. Today volunteers lead most of Historic Columbia’s house tours, walking tours and programs. They are instrumental in maintaining the vibrant gardens found on site, executing varied fundraising programs and making special events like The Jubilee Festival of Heritage and Candlelight Tours a success year after year. Needless to say, Historic Columbia wouldn’t be here today without decades of dedicated volunteer support.

Now it is your opportunity to join the legacy of Historic Columbia volunteers. Attend the next session of the Volunteer Orientation on Monday, January 23, 2017 from 10:00am to 12:30pm at the Seibels House, 1601 Richland Street, to learn more about volunteering and how to be involved. Volunteers are asked to commit at least nine hours a month to helping the organization in a variety of positions.

Currently there is there is a great need for Interpretive Guides to learn tours of the newly reopened Mann-Simons Site, which tells the story of the generations of entrepreneurial African American family who called it home. Interested volunteers will need to participate in one of the following all-day training sessions: Monday, Feb. 6, Saturday, Feb. 18 and Monday, Feb. 27. These training sessions will consist of the following: a sample tour of the site, an overview of the family, history of the site, broad topics related to the site- Slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights and Urban Renewal, and a day in the life of a volunteer, which will cover logistics of giving tours and other opportunities at the site. Volunteer training is free.

The gardening program will soon be embarking on several new projects across the grounds, including extensive plant labeling and a restoration of several historic elements on the grounds of the Hampton-Preston Mansion. Come be a part of these great programs! Volunteering with Historic Columbia is a great way to get to know the history of Columbia and Richland County through monthly volunteer meetings that feature visits to local historic sites, guest lectures and in depth discussion on the history of Historic Columbia’s historic sites led by HC staff members. In addition, all volunteers receive a ten percent discount at the Gift Shop at the Robert Mills House, complimentary admission to our historic house museums for yourself and members of your immediate family and a free subscription to Historically Speaking, Historic Columbia’s quarterly newsletter.

Be sure to attend the orientation to get started! Register today to reserve your spot by CLICKING HERE or contact Betsy Kleinfelder at 803-252-1770 x 24 or bkleinfelder@historiccolumbia.org.

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Call for Entertainment & Vendors for the 37th Annual Jubilee: Festival of Heritage!

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Jubilee marketplace

Be part of one of the Midlands’ most-anticipated festivals as an entertainer or vendor at Historic Columbia’s 37th annual Jubilee: Festival of Heritage on Saturday, September 19.

Historic Columbia is searching for entertainment acts that reflect Jubilee and African American heritage, such as drum and dance groups, gospel, jazz, blues and spoken word acts. The deadline for entertainment registration is July 15, and the entertainer application form is available at historiccolumbia.org.

Associations, churches, civic/service groups, health/medical organizations, charities and other businesses are all invited to participate in this year’s Jubilee. The cost to participate is $25 for non-profit vendors, $55 for marketplace vendors and $125 for food vendors. Spaces are limited and reserved on a first-come, first-served basis once approved by the vendor committee. One table and two chairs are provided at no charge; additional items such as electricity, extra tables and extra space are available for an additional charge of $15 to $25. Vendor application forms are available at historiccolumbia.org, and the deadline for registration is September 4.

Jubilee: Festival of Heritage celebrates the rich cultural heritage and entrepreneurial spirit of the Mann-Simons family. The festival is free and open to the public at the historic Mann-Simons Site at 1403 Richland St. For more information about Jubilee and the Mann-Simons Site, please visit historiccolumbia.org/jubilee, call 803.252.1770 x 36 or email jubilee@historiccolumbia.org.

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Celebrate the Holidays with Historic Columbia!

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HP Holiday Toys

The holiday season is nearly upon us, and Historic Columbia is pulling out all the stops. Starting Friday, November 21, see a variety of holiday decorations and traditions in the Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion and Mann-Simons Site. Guides will provide stories of holidays past in Columbia and discuss how families decorated and entertained during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Historic Holiday Tours are free for HC members, $5 for youth and $8 for adults, and tours run through January 4 with special events and programs happening along the way:

  • Santa Signing. Saturday, Nov. 22. Visit the Gift Shop at Robert Mills for a storewide one-day sale of 30% off all holiday trim décor and gift items! Our Victorian Santa will visit from 1 to 3 p.m. to sign free coloring pages for the little ones and take photos. Families will be able to buy a Santa Key and Reindeer Treats to help Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve and enjoy cookies and drinks while shopping. During this free event, register for giveaways for a great holiday stocking packed with or for a beautiful holiday wreath for Mom or Dad.
  • Historic Holidays Family Day. Saturday, Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. Enjoy the holidays in the decorated Robert Mills House and learn about the history of several holiday traditions while enjoying holiday crafts and activities as a family. Family Day is free for adults and HC member youth and $6 for non-member youth.
  • Choir Showcase & $1 Tours. Saturday, Dec. 6 at noon. Local elementary schools will provide musical entertainment in front of the Robert Mills House for the community. This event is free and open to the public, and HC invites you to enjoy special $1 Historic Holiday Tours during the event.
  • Candlelight Tours & Carriage Rides. Friday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. Visit the decorated halls of our historic house museums on a guided candlelight tour. Enjoy musical entertainment and children’s activities while celebrating the holidays with HC. Before or after your house tour, enjoy a carriage ride through the Robert Mills historic district. Carriage rides are $5 per person, and tours are $12 for adults, $8 for youth and free for HC members.
  • Breakfast with Santa. Saturday, Dec. 20 at 8 a.m. Enjoy a continental breakfast in our cozy Carriage House while listening to seasonal music. After breakfast, take a festive tour through Hampton-Preston Mansion, see a Victorian Christmas tree and make a holiday craft. Don’t forget to get a picture with HC’s Victorian Santa Claus! Admission is $10 for HC member adults, $3 for HC member youth, $12 for non-member adults, $4 for non-member youth ages 4 to 12 and free for kids 3 and under.

For more information on these events or to reserve your spot, please call 803.252.1770 x 23 or email reservations@historiccolumbia.org.

Events aren’t the only way to celebrate with HC this season. Give a one-of-a-kind present and support Historic Columbia by shopping at the Gift Shop at Robert Mills; visit historiccolumbia.org to find more about upcoming sales and events.

Thinking about renting a Historic Columbia property for your event this winter? Schedule your event by November 30 and save 15%! For more information, contact Heather Bacon-Rogers at hbacon@historiccolumbia.org, and learn more about the properties available for rent at historiccolumbia.org.

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Historic Columbia’s Jubilee: Festival of Heritage Celebrates 36 Years on August 23

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Celebrating the rich cultural heritage and entrepreneurial spirit of one African American family—who lived and worked on the same property in downtown Columbia, S.C. for more than 140 years—Historic Columbia presents the 36th annual Jubilee: Festival of Heritage. This free, family-friendly event will be held at the Mann-Simons Site at 1403 Richland Street from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, August 23.

For 36 years, families and friends have come from across the state to celebrate African American heritage at Jubilee. When the festival started in 1978, it was a small community celebration of African American heritage and history. Over the years, Jubilee has grown into a can’t-miss event that draws attendees from all over the state and region.

This year’s Jubilee celebrates the legacies of the Mann-Simons family as well as Modjeska Monteith Simkins. The expanded, two-block festival will span the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Marion Street, stretching from the Mann-Simons Site at the corner of Richland and Marion streets to the Modjeska Simkins House at the corner of Marion and Elmwood streets. Both sites serve as tangible links between early 19th-century African American life and the civil rights and social justice movements that arose from these roots.

More than 3,000 guests attended the festival in 2013 to celebrate the remarkable life of Celia Mann and her descendants with a variety of activities, including hands-on demonstrations, an array of musical entertainment, and vendors with African-influenced and traditional merchandise. This year, multi-generational crowds will enjoy the following:

Live Entertainment!

Demonstrations and Crafts!

Hands-on demonstrations and craft tents from some of the region’s most skilled artists and craftsmen, including:

Discounted Tours and Exhibits!

Tour the Mann-Simons Site ($1 admission), take the celebrated bus tour, “Home places, work places, resting places: African-American Heritage Sites Tour” ($2), and view the new exhibit at Modjeska Monteith Simkins House ($1), exploring the life of Modjeska Monteith Simkins, considered “the matriarch of Civil Rights activists of South Carolina.” The new exhibit and accompanying outdoor interpretive signage broadens audiences’ understanding of the past, present and future through disciplines of history, archeology, African American and southern studies.

Street Fair!

An assortment of exhibitors, vendors and purveyors of tasty food and drink will be on hand, and Marion Street between Richland and Elmwood will be blocked off for this vibrant fair! Historic Columbia is accepting applications for vendors until August 8 (applications can be found at historiccolumbia.org).

Friends of Jubilee

Are you interested in supporting this free community festival? Become a Friend of Jubilee! With your donation to Jubilee, you will receive recognition at the festival, free tour passes and more. Visit historiccolumbia.org to learn more and make a donation.

Jubilee: Festival of Heritage is sponsored by Publix Super Markets Charities; The LINKS, Inc.; Johnson, Toal & Battiste; AT&T; The Big DM and Hot 103.9; Carolina Panorama; McDonald’s; AARP of South Carolina; The Office of Jim Clyburn; Elam Financial Group; Palmer Memorial Chapel; South State Bank; Vista Smiles; Party Reflections; Ahern Rentals; City of Columbia; Richland County; and the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington.

For more information on the 36th annual Jubilee: Festival of Heritage, please visit historiccolumbia.org or call 803.252.1770 ext. 23.

 

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Call for Entertainment & Vendors for the 36th Annual Jubilee: Festival of Heritage!

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Be part of one of the Midlands’ most-anticipated festivals as an entertainer, demonstration artist or vendor at Historic Columbia’s 36th annual Jubilee: Festival of Heritage on Saturday, Aug. 23.

Historic Columbia is searching for entertainment acts that reflect Jubilee and African American heritage, such as drum and dance groups, gospel, blues and spoken word acts, and for demonstration artists who can demonstrate and engage guests in crafts that reflect African American arts such as basket weaving, print making or indigo dying. The deadline for entertainment registration is June 30, and the entertainer application form is available online here. Interested demonstration artists should apply at JubileeEducation78@gmail.com.

Associations, churches, civic/service groups, health/medical organizations, charities and other businesses are all invited to participate in this year’s Jubilee. The cost to participate is $25 for non-profit vendors, $55 for marketplace vendors and $125 for food vendors. Spaces are limited and reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. One table and two chairs are provided at no charge; additional items such as electricity, extra tables and extra space are available for an additional charge of $15 to $25.

Vendor application forms are available here, and the deadline for registration is Aug. 8. Please send vendor applications to JubileeVendors@gmail.com.

Jubilee: Festival of Heritage celebrates the rich cultural heritage and entrepreneurial spirit of the Mann-Simons family. The festival is free and open to the public, running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the historic Mann-Simons Site at 1403 Richland St. For more information about Jubilee and the Mann-Simons Site, please click here.

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Connecting Students with History

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This guest blog was written by HC Engagement Coordinator Celia Galens and originally appeared in The Columbia Star.

Last week, juniors from C.A. Johnson High School, explored their neighborhood armed with video cameras and tasked to create short documentaries about several historic sites they’ve chosen to cover. Accompanied by CAJ alumni and Historic Columbia staff, the students set off to find and shoot the different historic sites. While they traveled, the students spoke with the alumni (James Baker and Patricia Scott, class of ’59 and Phillip Perry, class of ’74) about what it was like to live in the neighborhood decades ago.

With their documentaries in mind, the students spent the day as historians. After filming in their neighborhood, they visited Historic Columbia and learned to ask questions as oral historians, researched in historic newspapers and spoke with historians, an archeologist and a documentarian. Through research and their conversations with alumni, they uncovered stories about their school, historic figures that influenced the neighborhood and its residents, sites that no longer stand today, and churches that have involved the community for decades.

Over the course of the day, students learned that being a historian involves more than dates in textbooks. “I’m not good at history, but I like this,” said one student after a conversation with the alumni revealed a previously unknown history. Another student learned that there used to be a building for elementary students where CAJ’s parking lot is today—surprisingly, he was the first historian to discover this fact!

At the end of the field trip, students narrowed down the many interesting stories they discovered to choose one to focus on in their documentaries. Over the course of this spring, they will work with Historic Columbia staff and partners to formally interview elders and edit their videos. Eventually, these documentaries will be added to Historic Columbia’s interactive maps, available at historiccolumbia.org. This will be the first time work done by local high school historians will be featured on our maps, which currently include six of Columbia’s neighborhoods.

Historic Columbia’s work with C.A. Johnson is part of the Mann-Simons Community Engagement Project, a project sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences to engage youth and elders in the local community through history. Throughout the school year, HC staff presents local history to students that connects with and gives depth to the national history students learn in class. By showing students how national history has impacted their local community, HC encourages them to use and interact with history not just as a subject, but also as a way to learn about your surroundings. Through examining historic documents, such as early maps or an account of a former slave who lived in Richland County, and interviewing elders to create oral histories, students are exposed to the ways historians learn about the world. In the process, these budding historians are developing skills they’ll use not only as historians but also as engaged citizens.

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Candlelight Tours & Carriage Rides Shine a Light on Historic Holiday Spirit

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Join Historic Columbia for its annual Candlelight Tours and Carriage Rides on Friday, Dec. 20.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., visitors can explore the Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion and Mann-Simons Site by candlelight. HC’s historic house museums are decorated for the season and give a glimpse into the holiday traditions of Columbians from 1825 to 1900.

During your visit to Historic Columbia, enjoy musical performances by Corner House at the Robert Mills House from 7 to 9 p.m. and by Jennifer Hill at the Hampton-Preston Mansion from 6 to 8 p.m. Before or after your house tour, take a carriage ride through the Robert Mills Historic District for only $5. Don’t forget to stop by the Gift Shop at Robert Mills for the holiday open house throughout the evening for a storewide sale as well as refreshments, holiday tunes and a chance for register for HC’s happy holiday gift basket giveaway!

Candlelight Tours are free for HC members, $8 for adults and $5 for youth. Reservations are not required, and the last tour starts at 9 p.m. For more information, call 803.252.1770 x 23 or email reservations@historiccolumbia.org.

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Date For 35th Anniversary Jubilee: Festival of Heritage is Set! HCF Seeks Vendors

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It’s one of the region’s most-anticipated festivals each year, celebrating the rich cultural heritage and entrepreneurial spirit of the Mann-Simons family. Historic Columbia Foundation’s 35th annual Jubilee: Festival of Heritage will be held on August 24, 2013 at the Mann-Simons Site in Columbia, SC. The festival is free and open to the public, running from 11 am – 5 pm.

Jubilee 2012HCF is seeking food, marketplace and non-profit vendors to participate in this year’s Jubilee: Festival of Heritage. Associations, churches, civic/service groups, health/medical organizations, charities and other businesses are all invited to participate. The cost to participate is $25 for non-profit vendors, $50 for marketplace vendors and $100 for food vendors. Spaces are limited and reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. One table and two chairs are provided at no charge. Additional items (such as electricity, extra tables and extra space) are available for an additional charge ($15-$25). Those interested in being a part of this year’s Festival are encouraged to download the vendor form on the Foundation’s website here. The deadline for registration is August 9.

2013 Festival activities include: 

?         Hands-on demonstrations from some of the region’s most skilled artists and craftsmen, 

?         Live musical entertainment including R&B, jazz, blues and gospel, 

?         Vendors with African-influenced and traditional merchandise,

?         Crafts and activities for children,

?         Tours of the Mann-Simons Site (adults $1/children free)

?         Bus tours of African-American heritage sites (adults $2/children free), the Modjeska Simkins property, and

?         Many other events throughout the day.

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