Although ‘cotton was king’ in South Carolina prior to the Civil War, the cotton industry rose and fell in South Carolina in the late 19th and 20th centuries

It is essential for students to know

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It is essential for students to know

It is important for students to understand that the movement for civil rights for African Americans was continuous from the time of the first abolitionists. Organizations and individuals were actively protesting

the Jim Crow laws and restrictions on voting long before the post World War II Civil Rights movement

started with a court case in South Carolina.

Although their schools were far inferior to the schools provided for white students, the parents of some

African American children in Clarendon County, South Carolina just wanted a bus to take their children to their all-black school. The school board provided busses for all of the white children but not for the African American children. Parents bought a used bus themselves but asked the school board to pay for the gas. The school board denied their request. With the assistance of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the parents brought suit against the district school board in a case called Briggs v Elliott for equal treatment under the law as required by the 14th Amendment. The state court ruled in favor of the school district. The parents appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States. The NAACP had four similar cases before the Supreme Court from other parts of the country. Briggs became part of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision reached by the Supreme Court in the early 1950s. In Brown, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools was inherently unequal and that African American students should be integrated into classrooms with white children with “all deliberate speed.”

However, this decision did not change conditions and was not immediately enforced. Segregation continued in schools and all other parts of Southern life. Rosa Parks was a member of the NAACP who was tired of segregation. When she refused to move from her seat on a bus she started the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This peaceful protest against segregation started a series of protests throughout the South that included sit-ins, marches and boycotts. Martin Luther King, Jr. became a leader of the non-violent protest movement and made the famous “I Have A Dream” speech at a protest march in Washington, D.C. South Carolina also had protests. Pictures of protesters being attacked by police dogs and sprayed with fire hoses in places such as Birmingham and Selma, Alabama were carried on nationwide TV and in newspapers. This news coverage led to greater public awareness of racial discrimination and sympathy for the conditions of African Americans in the South. It also led South Carolina leaders to be concerned that these protests would hurt their efforts to attract businesses to the state (3-5.3). So South Carolina government and business leaders began to deliberately and peacefully integrate public facilities in the state. Although the state of South Carolina resisted integration of Clemson University all the way to the Supreme Court, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina were peacefully integrated. Stores and restaurants opened their doors to African American customers. This peaceful integration was eventually marred by the ‘Orangeburg Massacre’, when black students were shot by the South Carolina highway patrol and the National Guard after a protest about a segregated bowling alley.

As a result of the civil rights protests, the national government passed laws that protected the rights of African Americans. The Civil Rights Act [1964] made segregation illegal in all public facilities. The Voting Rights Act [1965] outlawed literacy tests and the 26th Amendment outlawed poll taxes. African Americans were allowed to vote and elected to state legislatures fro the first time since Reconstruction.

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